TCS Daily

The Crash of Big-Government Conservatism

By S.T. Karnick - May 15, 2006 12:00 AM

Recent polls show support for Republicans is still declining, and President Bush's approval ratings are the lowest for any president other than Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter in the past fifty years. The New York Times summed it up well recently:

Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans.

This decline is fundamentally not a matter of PR or press bias but of policy and the philosophy behind it. Bush and the Republican Congress have had a difficult time selling themselves to the public because their policies have not been appealing. They have adhered to a philosophy, big-government conservatism, that has finally alienated nearly everyone. The War on Terror delayed the effects of this alienation for several years, but ultimately the Bush administration's errors and Congress's addiction to big spending -- which was based on this big-government conservative philosophy -- alienated both those outside the party, first, and then a great proportion of Republicans themselves.

Big-government conservatism has a few main aims: to preserve the welfare state while mitigating its ill effects, to preserve the present American culture while mitigating its bad effects, to preserve the present international order while mitigating its bad effects, and to preserve the present system of national politics while mitigating its ill effects.

The economic premise of big government conservatism is that the welfare state benefits from free markets and is not in dire conflict with them. Their social premise relies on the same utilitarian calculus as that of their opponents on the Left, but the big government conservatives hold that although antinomianism is not good for people, nothing can really be done about it except to try to ease government restrictions on religion. The international affairs premise is that liberal democracy is the best thing for all nations and imposition of it on other nations is the solution when they become threats to U.S. interests.

The Democrats and the Left in general, by contrast, say that the system of free markets and human welfare are in inevitable conflict, and the latter must always be the higher priority. They believe in expanding the sexual revolution. They believe that the moral problem with America is not antinomianism but the intractable intolerance of monotheists. And they believe that the real problem with the international order is that war is inevitable when people don't see residents of other nations as being of equal importance as oneself and one's family, neighborhood, and nation. Other nations, they say, are basically rational and hence always amenable to good-faith negotiations, meaning ones in which the United States is willing to make big concessions when necessary for an agreement to be reached.

The Democrats have a definite philosophy that creates a vivid picture of a good world, and that is appealing in itself. The Republicans' present philosophy is simply a watered-down version of the Democrats'. For a party in power, that is disastrous, as it lets the opposition set the agenda and measure success.

The solution for the Republicans, then, must be philosophical at heart, and that philosophy must drive the party's policy prescriptions. Their only real answer is to embrace classical liberalism. This includes in particular embracing its crucial components of individual rights, personal responsibility, the belief that human life in general and every human life in particular has meaning, and respect for the reality of nationality.

This vision of classical liberalism derives from Edmund Burke and Adam Smith and their contemporaries, and incorporates the insights of subsequent great thinkers such as Booker T. Washington, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Thomas Sowell. It is a vision of a true opportunity society, open to all who agree to play by the rules, and one in which the rules are sovereign.

Such a vision provides a comprehensible, consistent, and sensible view of the world and the nation. In this worldview, the nation is a society of free individuals brought together by a common heritage, living under laws that free people to achieve the best that they can and that prevent them from unfairly exploiting one another, a society that respects the need for personal morality regardless of one's religious background. Classical liberalism provides a way to find clear answers in all policy matters by asking the following question: Which policy approach will create the greatest amount of both individual liberty and social order?

Such a vision is by no means a theocracy; it is in fact based largely on utilitarian concerns. However, it also includes a respect for religion because the latter is part of mankind's perpetual search for truth and meaning and because religious faith can encourage personal morality and social charity and give great comfort and purpose to individuals in times both good and bad. In its great and abiding respect for the good things religion brings, however, classical liberalism never allows the two kingdoms (in Martin Luther's great distinction), the City of God and the City of Man, to be conflated or confused with each other.

Classical liberalism holds that the Christian religion is good for society because it encourages the intellectual foundations for an orderly society of free individuals. Whether a particular religion's claims are true or not is a matter for the Church to decide, as Luther pointed out, not the state; and whether a particular policy or political philosophy is good is a matter to be decided by an empirical calculus, as Luther likewise noted, not religious laws developed for a very different group of people six thousand years ago.

About religion, classical liberalism says: Encouragement of religion, yes; imposition of religious-based laws, no.

This philosophy is much more likely to appeal to disaffected Republicans and others on the Right than the watered-down postmodernism now offered by the Grand Old Party. Classical liberalism is the philosophy that Ronald Reagan eloquently represented, and the party of Reagan could rely on that history to provide quick credibility to an effort to renew a commitment to his approach to government. But rhetoric won't be enough. A Bush veto of the bloated, pork-laden spending bill recently passed by the Senate would go a long way toward restoring the GOP's credibility as the party of Reagan, especially if it is followed by a better bill and an intense congressional debate over spending. The policy approach for the rest of the summer and thereafter should likewise be based on the Reaganesque, classical liberal principles outlined here.

The one positive element for Republicans at this point is that they are learning today, almost six months before the coming elections, that their philosophy has run its course. There is time for them to change. Whether they will in fact do so is another question entirely, but one thing is certain. They have nothing to lose, and they have something big to gain: retention of their hold on Congress and state legislatures and executive mansions.

S. T. Karnick is an Associate Fellow of the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research and Editor of The Reform Club blog.



Excellent analysis, thanks
Bush gets a pass in the sense that the alternative is left wing disaster and military defeats; and, his supply-side economics and tax cut policy is bringing us unequaled prosperity.

Where is the classic liberal potential candidate in the Republican party? Even the Libertarians have gone off the deep end. George Allen, the exgoveroner of Virginia & senator seems the best of a motley field.

We cannot afford to succumb to the the deadly lure of socialism and atheism that is driving the Ruskies and Oldeurope repidly into demographic oblivion. Freedom lovers, arise!

fundamentally not a matter of PR or press bias
I think the press has had a effect on Bush’s approval rating.

Sense the first day he was elected they have hounded him and picked at every decision. It is almost impossible to find a story that says anything good about what he has done.

Tax cuts:

If you read all the stories about what would happen if he got these thought you would think we would all be bankrupt and living in cardboard boxes. Six years after getting them though we have the best economy in years, the lowest unemployment rate in years, but you never see any stories on that in the news.


After a brief period of showing him in a good light after it happened all they could do was look to see how it could be pinned on him. Even when it was pointed out that most of the problems that allowed it to happen had been in places for years before.


I have yet to see a positive story from any major news agency other then Fox on this subject. There have been many great things that have come out of this and the picture over there is not as bleak as they portray it. But when you only see the bad side of the issue on the news every night…

The list goes on and on. They have focused on every negative aspect of every policy he has put out. From him “stealing” the election to the present problems with immigration it just bad press.

An artificial paradise
You cut to the core of the problem when you say Bush's "supply-side economics and tax cut policy is bringing us unequaled prosperity."

How hard can it be to promote the illusion of prosperity when you just pull free money out of your hat? Isn't our entire boom premised on the endless supply of borrowed money? When do you suppose we are going to have to start paying all this back?

It's an artificial prosperity, much as though someone supporting a large family on $30,000 a year had access to an unlimited line of credit. We've purchased our prosperity by stealing it from our children.

The proper medicine for this sort of thing is for the country to continue voting Republican. That way when we inevitably have to start raising taxes to pay down the debt, it won't be a Democrat as the sitting duck up there, giving us the bitter tasting pill.

Pinkly befuddled brain
Roy, Roy, I'll do you the undeserved favor of a response. The deficit is going down, get it? down! It's becoming a smaller and smaller portion of the economy all the time.

If supply-siders stay in power to lower tax rates even further, both the economy and tax receipts will rise, then it'll become even smaller. Look at the numbers. Think about it a little. Cheer up.

The MSM party
Good point. I used to think that the MSM was just a whollly owned subsididary of the Jackass Party. Now I see it's the other way 'round.

deeply unpopular
The Republicans have made a mess in Washington. Now you'r esaying true conservatives can clean it up. But they've had their chance. To quote another unpopular Republicn: "You can't trust those who made the mess to clean it up." (Nixon, Checkers, about Truman).

Find me an honest conservative, someone who will propose specific cuts that add up to your vision of small government, and I'll show you a single digit politician.

Martin Luther, the original
I was glad to see Martin Luther receive a few kudos for the expansion of human liberty. His book on Christian Liberty was very useful.
While the liberals will love to pile on the classical liberals criticism of the Republicans, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Leadership is currently lacking from both parties. As a classical liberal, I will support the republicans because is will be easier to get them to change to a classical liberal philosophy than the democrats. They are still to far in the communist camp and have little historical philosophy for smaller government.

Oh thank you sir
Thank you for snidely consenting to respond, Don. The Debt is the important thing, not deficits, and it is going straight up. Every dollar in there is going to have to be paid back some day, unless we decide to welsh on our debts to ourselves and to others. But more to the point, until it does we will be paying interest on it.

How much interest? Lets look at fiscal 2005, with its record low interest rates. $352 billion. For nothing but the privilege of spending borrowed money for our living expenses. This is credit card madness on steroids.

Wait until interest rates go up, and more trillions are added to the pile. By them the interest payment will be the largest thing in the budget-- bigger than either the military or entitlement programs. Soon, if nothing else, we'll have to raise taxes just to pay interest.

Think I'm kidding? Check out the Debt Clock:

Finally, I see you still believe the Laffer Curve can just increase revenues indefinitely. You don't understand the legerdemain involved? Without the constant supply of free money coming in at the top, there would be no "profits" coming out at the bottom. You can't just charge less for your services (lowering tax rates) indefinitely, and continue making it up in volume. That stuff is known as voodoo economics.

" But they've had their chance. "

When has a classic liberal Congress been in power the last 50 years? 100 years?
The closest time in recent history is the '94 Congress. But they lost their nerve or were corrupted by the DC cesspool.
The only solution I can see is to eliminate the income tax, and substitute a sales tax with everything specifically detailed in the Constitution make it very difficult to change.

You would have to be a real sucker
You would have to be a real sucker if you would still vote Republican if your main desire is smaller government. The Republicans have shown that they see vote buying as the only way to hold their offices.

If you want smaller government at least your position will be known if you vote libertarian. Perhaps libertarians who vote republican should switch to the Democratic Party they are so low right now that they may be open to change. They may move to the libertarian position on the war on drugs. Or perhaps an effort to split one of the 2 big parties would be a good move.

Turning the Ship Around
I agree with the analysis. The Big Government Republicans aren't really conservatives. However, we live in a two party system and there needs to be a big grass roots movement to eliminate the BGR from office. Term limits would be nice as most small government conservatives become BGR if they remain in DC for too long. So the ship needs to be turned around and it takes a great deal of energy to do so. How to get it going is a big issue. hmmm.

fundamentally is a matter of incompetent leadership
(Here is dismanrc's post redone without the rosy delusional filter in place)

I think Bush has had an effect on Bush's approval rating.

Since the first day he was elected he has made poor decisions, and even good decisions have been so poorly executed they become bad results. It is almost impossible to find a decision or policy of Bush's that has turned out to be a good thing.

Tax cuts:

If you listened to Bush promote his tax cuts you would think we would have 6 million more jobs today than we actually do, because of the tax cuts. You would think everyone is getting great benefit from the tax cuts if you listen to right-wingers. Unfortunately, the reality is the rich are getting huge benefits, the poor are next with some moderate benefits, and the middle class are being sucked dry and forced to scrap to stay out of poverty. You never see right-wingers talking about the reality of the tax cuts.


After a brief period of good leadership, going into Afghanistan and routing the Taliban and hunting down terrorists across the globe, Bush decided to go into Iraq, only he and God really know why. Regardless, through that action Bush has destroyed America's reputation in the world, wasted billions of OUR money on failed reconstruction and spent hundreds of billions more on the occupation effort, increased the influence of terrorists, taken a sovereign nation to the brink of civil war, directly and indirectly caused/allowed the deaths of many thousands of innocent Iraqi's, caused the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of American soldiers, allowed the destruction of Iraq's feeble infrastructure, etc. (I'll stop there for the sake of time)


I have yet to see a positive story actually happen in Iraq. What is the good news exactly?? Is the good news that Iraqi's now have 10 hours of electricity per day versus 6 hours 2 years ago? Is the good news that they only have to wait in line for gas for 4 hours today, compared to 8 hours 2 years ago? If we hold hands and sing koombaiya because we re-built a school in Iraq, should we also get to hear when the school is blown up 2 weeks later because of a firegight?
(Actually dismanrc, I would venture to guess things are more bleak in Iraq than what is portrayed in the news. News outlets can't even go out of the Green Zone to get the real stories going on in Iraqi society because ITS TOO DANGEROUS. But, tell yourself what you have to, to deal with it. Just try to keep your delusions to yourself, sharing is not good in this case.)

The list goes on and on. Bush creates a positive spin of every policy he has put out. From cherry picking intelligence to make the case to invade Iraq to illegal wiretapping of American citizens, its just bad leadership.

Good article, but the target market is blind and deaf to criticism
I agree this is a pretty good article. Sign me up for the classical liberals group. I'm still fighting the idea that modern liberals have abandoned the classical values offered in the piece. Except for the stupidity of religion, I agree with most of it.

"This decline is fundamentally not a matter of PR or press bias but of policy and the philosophy behind it.
The War on Terror delayed the effects of this alienation for several years,..."

Precisely. Good recognition.

"The Republicans' present philosophy is simply a watered-down version of the Democrats'. For a party in power, that is disastrous, as it lets the opposition set the agenda and measure success."

This part is good too, but its innacurate to say Democrats have set any agenda. Democrats' success has occurred only because of the dire incompetence of the characters in power of the Repbulican party. Any agenda going on that is not to the Republicans' pleasure is a result of their own incompetence or corruption.

"However, it also includes a respect for religion because the latter is part of mankind's perpetual search for truth and meaning and because religious faith can encourage personal morality and social charity and give great comfort and purpose to individuals in times both good and bad. In its great and abiding respect for the good things religion brings, however, classical liberalism never allows the two kingdoms (in Martin Luther's great distinction), the City of God and the City of Man, to be conflated or confused with each other."

Good stuff, but religion needs to earn respect like everything else. As long as religious leaders seek power and conversions they do not deserve respect. In particular corrupt people like James Dobson and other extremists should be shunned for their activities, for their attempts to fuse religion and politics in an effort to control the beliefs and values of everyone.

"About religion, classical liberalism says: Encouragement of religion, yes; imposition of religious-based laws, no."

Maybe encouragement of religion was good in the old days, during tough barbaric times. I would hope we've evolved beyond it by now. I wouldn't encourage religion to anyone, but I do respect an individual's choice.

"The one positive element for Republicans at this point is that they are learning today, almost six months before the coming elections, that their philosophy has run its course."

Are they really? I'd say no so far. They can read about it, they can hear it, but that doesn't mean they've learned it. John Boehner for majority leader in the House is proof they haven't learned anything.

"There is time for them to change. Whether they will in fact do so is another question entirely, but one thing is certain. They have nothing to lose, and they have something big to gain: retention of their hold on Congress and state legislatures and executive mansions."

What? Republicans have everything to lose, they have total power. Their knuckles are turning white from gripping their positions so tightly. They won't change, they'll fight to keep their power and they'll keep handing the responsibilities of governing to corporate lobbyists who now write our laws. Only The People can change them, with our votes.

The Crash of Big-Government Conservatism
What an outstanding commentary. Twenty years ago this would have been obvious, now it is insightful. I wonder, however, how many in today's GOP coalition or in what was once known as the "conservative movement" still understand the meaning or concept of Classical Liberal? Unfortunately, in this post-Reagan era, there has not been many spokesmen for this kind of logical, coherrent political philosophy.

I am a bit confused on what the democrats and the left you stated they believe from the voting they perform in congress.

"And they believe that the real problem with the international order is that war is inevitable when people don't see residents of other nations as being of equal importance as oneself and one's family, neighborhood, and nation."

It appears to me the liberal left does not believe in its own residents and usa voters are equally important as themselves, the social elite having different standards and judements than that of the common population which has been seen many times especially by the clintons.

Also the liberal left feels that the USA should remove advances in human rights gains over the rest of the world, since these UN countries don't allow these basic human freedoms and laws.

The problem with the media and left is that they don't understand that other countries should follow the USA lead, instead of the USA following their lead. After all the reasons this country was formed and the people that came here still come for the same reasons as 200 years ago.

Why the repbulicans are failing are the continual and constant attacks by the media which are dominated by the left. Attacking ALQ and IRaq was still the best thing that could have happened since it prevented future attacks. I would expect from what we did prevented further devastating attacks during the millenium celebrations and afterwards proved that. But the media still shows it daily death count in Iraq which is similar to the death rate of the general population of Washington DC. In fact it is safer in Iraq than Washington DC for the common man.

So it shows what the media and the left is really doing, lies and false figures to fool the common man to support their own personal gains.

Under the left liberals we would be defeated by ALQ
With clinton the size of the active army was reduced I believe 7 divisions, or 1/3 its size. How does that help our boys in Iraq?

The only other choice was a republican and still is.

The left wants to remove the few human rights advantages we have over the rest of the world and then tell us that it is ok. Why?

Stay conservative and republican is the only survival and chance for increased freedoms and quality of life. I see the alternatives is we will be rioting like france in a few years.

Please determine what percentage you do pay in taxes. Federal, state, FICA, SSecurity, sales tax, registration taxes, tolls, sin taxes, import taxes, export taxes, luxury taxes, taxes on registering vehicles, taxes on your interest, income, and every possible gain.

I figured I was about in the 75% tax bracket. England was 95%. Sometimes folks are over 110% there and stoped working.

Soon we should just have the check sent to the governement directly and do away with all the taxes.

So yes the sitting duck is in the mirror. Just waiting for someone to shoot it.

And we can reduce the deficit without new taxes. It just that that is difficult to do, and politicans are too busy campaining for the next election to take care of real work.

problem wit hdebt clock
is that there is no logic in it and it continues to rise no matter what really happens.

I got another clock that keeps moving forward too no matter what i do.

I seen more money that the above in some mutual funds.

I beleive that the war efforts are preventing this from being reduced now. someone has to get the armed forces back to a strength that it can defend the USA again.

So radical changes cost money. Money that was neglected for so long under the clintons.

I agree its an anti-republican world
The left and liberal left owns too much of the media, that is why we see so many negative stories on Bush and the war against terrorism.

It was their goal to take over the media, then take over the minds of the people and it is finally working.

But the fact was there was alot more terrorist acts against americans with Clinton than there was with Bush. What was really done with the embassy bombings, the USS Cole, etc? Like Europe daily bombings don't even make the paper now.

Read the facts and not the papers
1. The media will not give you the facts about what the Iraqis think about Bush. Since there was more freedoms and quality of living gains now that the people have then there ever was. Schools, transportation, utilities, commodities, etc.

Name one thing bad about it?

2. the overblown ecomonic state that clinton let it fall to is evident of his party. Everything looks rosey until you look under the covers and eventually they get uncovered like Carter and interest rates they'll catch up.

3. I seen the reality of tax cuts and I thank Bush for it.

4. How much did 9-11 cost? If we had Kerry we would have seen this a dozen more times so multipled that by at least 10. Most likely the USA would be under maritial law now.

5. You sound like and most likely your relatives were the same folks that did not want to enter WWII and fight Hitler since they were afraid it would cost US lives. So to you this was also a bad war.

6. The worst this is these pacifists that think that they can talk or buy their way out of anything.

if the MSM was just neutral?

Register Libertarian and vote often
If all classical liberals registerd as libertarian, or if every person disgusted with both parties resgistered libertarian and not independent, the politicians, who review voter roles, might get a hint their constituents might want smaller government.

Politics über alles
First and foremost, Republicans and Democrats are politicians. For them, goal number 1 is re-election. Philosophy is at the bottom of the list, right next to obeying the Constitution. To think that either of these political parties will see the philosophical light and return to classical liberalism is pure wishful thinking. Under their court-supported interpretation of the "necessary and proper" clause, the Congresscritters of either party will do anything they see as promoting goal number 1: pass any law, override any explicit or non-enumerated right, disobey any rule in the Constitution and support any illegal act by the executive.

Classical liberalism is not utilitarianism, which is only another word for crushing individual rights in the name of the so-called "common good". Today, it is Hillary Clintonism.

The real problem is the triumph of democracy over representative republicanism, together with the excessive power of the executive and the abandonment by the courts of their duty to protect individual rights. Party politics have trumped everything.

Snorting lines on stained glass
When one loses the battle to command oneself, one also typically loses the battle to command a good wage for one's services because chances are good one's services don't include education. This being so, one then loses the battle over who gets to drive the Lexus, shag the post-op silicon-enhanced hotties, and feature on the evening news at 11 sporting dope gear at the hottest nighclub around. Given that the driving hot cars and honnies and getting on TV provide the only rational meaning to an American life, those who don't get to do these things are obviously living in an unjust universe, ruled by the "Man" whose mission is to keep them "down".

Enter the Democrats, who promise to reverse the order of things so that dishwashers with criminal records, drug problems and pharmaceutically unchallenged acne can get their fair share of the good life. And all they gotta do is sign up for the next class war, with MTV and an assortment of unincarcerated musical icons rocking the vote.

So how does Big-Government Conservatism compete with this? By assigning Falwell and Robertson to cut street-dance cameos on pornified music vids? By getting Barbara Bush to sing Psalm 101 backwards, accompanied by a hiphop inner-city Baptist choir snorting lines on sacramental stained glass between refrains?

Get the picture, you redundant culture warriors? Getting elected is sales, and politics is coming up with the soundbites, short-attention-span-indulging ideas, makeup, hair and money to pay the media piper for airing the foregoing instead of Seinfeld re-runs. Anything deeper than this is intellectual gas pointed upwind. Period.

Get used to it.

Thats for sure
You certainly are confused DU. Typical for ignorants, you blame everyone, everything else for it.

"Also the liberal left feels that the USA should remove advances in human rights gains over the rest of the world, since these UN countries don't allow these basic human freedoms and laws."

What human rights advances are liberals trying to remove advances in? This is a new idea, I'm curious what examples you're thinking of. Actually, its hard to make sense of what you're saying, it could mean a few things depending on what you actually mean. In fact, I think you don't really know what you mean.

"Why the repbulicans are failing are the continual and constant attacks by the media which are dominated by the left."

Thats a great punchline. What better way to avoid accountability than to blame the media. For being so tough you guys sure are a bunch of crybabies.

"But the media still shows it daily death count in Iraq which is similar to the death rate of the general population of Washington DC. In fact it is safer in Iraq than Washington DC for the common man."

Really?? Do you mean the "common man", or the "common American"? A lot of common Iraqi's are dying these days because of sectarian violence. I'll bet you money more people die in Iraq than in Washington DC. What a stupid comment.

After reading a few more of your posts DU, I'm going to guess you are over age 60, probly even 65. You don't type well and seem to come from that older generation ignorance. I'm guessing you've been a Republican for decades and you probably can't say why. You just are. So when the Republicans who are in power today, who are not very good Republicans, come into power you clamor to support them despite the fact they are the antithesis of being a good Republican. But that doesn't matter, because being anti-Clinton is your only position. You don't know enough to have a position on any real issues.

DU is really representative of a lost group of people from that generation. They're no longer able to think with an open mind. All we can do is hope they don't vote, they don't educate themselves on the issues and they vote straight party anyway. I know several older folks who fit that description. It really is sad. Republicans really have those people indoctrinated. At their own peril I might add, given the example of Republicans we have in leadership today. I guess Republicans get credit for getting them onboard though.

Tra la la
I know it won't do any good to correct you, but the Debt actually is rising now, and steeply.

Whereas during the late nineties it was being reduced. Bill Clinton's second term, as I recall.

Re the military, we have been spending as much on the military since the end of the Cold War as the rest of the world put together. There never was a peace dividend.

And so far we're unable to successfully occupy two countries of approx 25 million people each. Maybe we're doing something wrong?

No, I don't want to get used to it
Beautiful post.

And I will not get used to to "Getting elected is sales, and politics is coming up with the soundbites, short-attention-span-indulging ideas, makeup, hair and money to pay the media piper", because that is a major problem with American politics. The Bush team has nearly perfected these techniques, as they showed us in the last 2 presidential elections. Not to pick on Bush for this too, both sides try to do it. But Bush's team, mainly Rove I believe, are like a crack special forces team in their effectiveness of using these techniques. They suck and I hate them, but I am in awe of their marketing effectiveness.
You forgot the Home Depot's and Enron's in the Big-Government Conservatism tent, knocking dust off their jeans and masturbating to the thought of their big Chevy trucks.

But which came first? Are these techniques being used because Americans are stupid and its the best way to reach those in the herd, or is the use of these techniques contributing to the dumbing-down of Americans?

Sadly I think its the former. People are dumb, and too selfish to care about bigger things, so the quicker and simpler the message can be, the better. yuck!

I will not get used to it. I will fight it.

Repeal 17th Amendment
A colleague, a PhD, interned for a year with Liberman. He was a good guy, but she said their first priority was to be re-elected.
A return to republican government will require one significant change, repeal the 17th Amendment and return to state legislators appointing senators.
Second, the House must be expanded so 1 Congressman represents no more that 100,000 people. I would also urge a geographic redistricting law.

People don't care
Most people don't care what the government does. Like the frog in boiling water, as long as they don't have to deal with it, it is out of sight.
Many proposals have been made to eliminate employer withholding of all taxes. Make people write a check to the government every month.
But when the government screws up, like Katrina response, they finally start asking questions.

The Constitution Hinders 3rd Parties
From a completely philosophical standpoint I couldn't agree more (I voted Libertarian in the 2004 Presidential election), but as long as there is a Constitutional requirement that the president be elected by a majority of the electoral college the deck is stacked against 3rd parties. Unfortunately 3rd party candidates usually have the effect of causing the major party candidate closest to representing of the 3rd party to lose the election. I refer you to Nader 2000, Ross Perot 1992, etc.

Bush decided to go into Iraq, only he and God really know why.
You are forgetting that General Powell and President Bush, Sr. were appalled at the distruction on the "Highway of Death" and stopped Desert Storm, lest we look like butchers for mercilessly slaughtering the retreating invaders of Kuwait.

You are forgetting that Iraq violated the cease fire thousands of times.

You are forgetting that the departing Clinton Administration warned the Bush, Jr. transition team that they would have to do something about Iraq 9 months before 9/11.

Speak of the Devil
Robertson speaks to teens
Manassas Journal Messenger, May 14, 2006

...Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcast Network charged the Republican Congress as "ABANDONING" FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, noting among other things the $223 million for the construction of a bridge connecting Alaska's Gravina Island to Ketchikan (also dubbed "the Bridge to Nowhere").

"This is our government at work, and unfortunately it is run by Republicans," he said.

...In light of the NSA wire-tapping revelation, which he called a "TOOL OF OPPRESSION," Robertson admonished the Bush administration for "encroaching on" Americans' personal liberties...!news

Bob, you are illogical, I think
"I wouldn't encourage religion to anyone, but I do respect an individual's choice."

Bob, upon what logic do you make this statement? Why should you "respect" any individual's choice if it may be an incorrect one?

If one defines "religion" as the sum total of one's worldview about Truth (a definition that I would favor and which would fit into most Christians' understanding, as well as Muslims, Hindus, and modern American agnostics such as yourself) then many views of Truth are mutually exclusive. You are therefore illogical to say that any religious views are to be respected.

#1 issue in America: the invasion of illegal aliens
Americans know they have been sold down the river by the Corporate Plutocrats with unlimited, unrestrained illegal immigration...i.e cheap labor. This huge influx is siphoning the Middle Class' standard of living into the pockets of the Plutocrats. Its an economic raping not seen since the Robber Barons of the late 19th/early 20th Century. Its time for some trust busting.

Simultaneously, the Middle Class is acutely aware that Big Government is NOT the answer to BIG Business, so they are caught between two elites sucking them the lifeless and soulless.

Only two things can save the Middle Class. Nationalistic Paleoconservatism (the subtext of which is white identity politics) or a friggin revolution (the subtext of which is white identity politics).

Funny how many parallels we have with Weimar. This nation (the white Christian middle class)THIRSTS for a new national identity.


Third Parties
Unfortunately third parties try to win. They would be better severved by trying to steer one party in thier direction.
If every independent voter went out tomorrow and registerd as a libertarian, how do you think the politicians would respond?

People who want the government to provide solutions are not conservatives.

People who want bigger and better government programs are not conservatives.

People who wish to have the government infringe on the liberties of the people are not conservatives.

People who believe that the government is the source of the economic well being of the nation are not conservatives.

People who wish to expand the role of government are not conservatives.

People who believe that they are uniquely qualified to tell others how to lead their evry day affairs are not conservatives.

They may be RINOs and they certainly are Democrats but they are never to be mistaken for Conservatives.

Play nice
Bush's big mistake was to try to play nice with Democrats by throwing big money at their favorite pork factories like education as one example. He gave them the extra spending for it but attached accountability to the money. Democrats and their faithful in the teachers unions tried to get rid of the accountability in the court of public opinion. That did not work so now the are in the courts as in California getting standards thrown out.
He has learned a hard lesson about playing nice with Democrats at the expense of his party and possibly their majority status.
The economy is his brightest light with inflation in check and slow but steady GDP and job growth. The MSM and the Democrats are silent on that except for lamenting those evil tax cuts. They do not get that the economy is good because of them and never will.
If the Democrats get back in power, the tax cuts will not be extended and the economy will go in the tank at the end of the Democratic leaders term as the tax and spend policies catch up with reality. Then another Republican will take over and clean it up again. History repeats itself.

Fight on
Thanks for the compliment, and perhaps you're right: Doing something to reverse a detestable trend is better than succumbing to passive, bitter cynicism. Good on you, and fight on.

Still, I doubt the capacity of simple, common sense values to sway political contests when politics offers voters who cultivate self-destructive, irrational and chic values a chance to reverse the financial aspects of their self-imposed misery at others' expense. Indeed, today's political capital is largely misery together with the promise to politically arbitrage it to those whose value-conserving lifestyles and the outcomes thereof provide the identifying and offending juxtaposition to misery.

Who are these RINO's?
They are an insurgency of stealth Jewish Leftists who call themselves "neo-conservatives". THEY control the Republican Party....NOT "conservatives" (or what these jewish subversives call "paleoconservatives").


Its the old Rockefeller country club Republicans
Republicans who wish they could be Democrats but can't bring themselves to push for higher taxes lest their country club existence collapse. After Bush's speech I am finished with the GOP.

go back to sleep
Its interesting to see the loonies have come out to speak on this issue. Thats a new one bertly, blame the Democrats for what Bush does in office. The excuses never seem to end. The Republicans have total control of the government, they're flushing the country down the toilet, and its the Democrats fault?

Lets try to get some perspective. Bush's mistake was not playing nice with Democrats, its that he played nice on the wrong issues for the wrong reasons. No Child Left Behind is a terrible law. Parts of it are good, but much of it is bad. Its been underfunded and unrealistic in its expectations. Its like Bush took the worst parts of D's and R's ideas on education to come up with this law.

Which is the nature of the Bush Administration. Bush is not a pure Republican, certainly not a Democrat, he is a hybrid. Hybrids tend to be good, the idea being that you take the best of both worlds to create something new. Bush is the opposite, he takes the worst of both worlds to create himself, his positions. How else can he earn the moniker Big Government Conservative? Hes the worst of liberalism- big government and the worst of conservativism- social conservativism.

How about some more perspective, on tax cuts. Only a loonie would never like tax cuts and only a loonie would always under any circumstances love tax cuts. Bush's tax cuts have helped the economy, there is no doubt. How much they have helped is debatable. Our economy would not go in the tank if Bush's tax cuts are not extended, not even close. His tax cuts benefit the wealthy most, the poor second, and the middle class hardly at all. More money in a rich person's pockets does not automatically equate to more jobs. It does mean that if a business owner has been wanting to expand, and now has the capital to do it because of tax cuts, he will do it and create more jobs. So they do have a small effect on jobs. Probably a moderate effect on consumerism too. A rich person being able to afford a third vacation home in Aspen, etc. does affect high end industries, and the economy to an extent. However, are tax cuts still great at a time of record budget deficits and skyrocketing debt for our country? At a time of war? Interest rates are rising and inflation is threatening, is now the time to be giving tax cuts to booming businesses and wealthy people? Whats better for America- tax more and spend more, or tax less and spend more? Neither is ideal, and Bush has chosen the worst course. Thats not even including the fact that they use tricky accounting and off-budget bills to present the numbers we see. The reality of the situation is even worse than we see on the surface.

BTW, everything will be Bush's fault for at least the next decade after he leaves office. All his planning, all his budget projections, etc. end at the end of his term. So I can guarantee you, if we get a fiscally responsible President after Bush, we'll be feeling some harsh pain to make up for it. It will take just as long to undo and fix everything else that he has broken. And he has broken a lot. Thats nice though you're trying to lay the foundation to blame Democrats in the future. Oh wait, you're blaming them right now too when they have no control in government. I guess your shallow perspective is laid bare, huh bertly. No wonder history repeats itself.

The path Third partys should take.
Marjon, good thoughts and always glad to see some more libertarians/'true conservatives' out there.
As to your comments about third parties trying to sway one of the Two Main Parties one way or the other.

Instead of the Libertarian/third party trying for all the marbles on the first go around with a Presidential race, they should instead conserve their money and effort and concentrate on winning seats on State Legislatures and seats in the United States House of Representatives and Senate.

After some state representative seats are controlled by third party candidates and a certain number of seats in Congress are securely held, say 35-45 in the House and 5-10 in the Senate. Then the big chair can come into play and it will be be much more manageable at that point to 'convince' a Mainstream Conservative Presidential candidate to serious consider running with a Libertarian running mate as Vice President. Then it is only one small step to Libertarian for President.

It took 60+ years for liberal democrats and RINO's to put us in the mess that we are in right now, don't try to get it all back in one gulp. Small, steady steps towards success is what we need now, not large public failures.

Just some food for thought.

Shallow perspective
One other thing that I forgot to mention that federal tax revenues are at an all time high and have been sine the tax cuts took hold, which is posted on the treasury website.
My shallow perspective does not include personal attacks and name calling directed toward people that I disagree with. It does not include the class envy and warfare platform that seems to have traction among some.
Only congress appropriates spending and the Republicans have a shaky majority on a good day. If the Democratic leadership was so upset about deficit spending, they would have peeled off a couple of RINOs and stopped the runaway spending instead of adding on their pet earmarks and pork projects.
Jack Kennedy was the last Democratic leader of any note that was business friendly, cut taxes, and did not play the class warfare card. I could have voted for him from my shallow perspective.

Double standards?
Come on, Any president has immediate results and some are long lasting. Bush's deficits will have long term results but let's be honest here, I don't see one Democrat who has ever been fiscally conservative. Clinton did nothing to balance the budget and predicted 200 billion deficits forever. This changed with the loss of Democratic control after 50 years.

Are you trying to tell us the Democrats aren't responsible for the energy problems we now face? That their stance on immigration isn't irrational?

I'm not defending the GOP on either of these issues but see no evidence that the Dems have covered themselves with glory, manure is closer to it.

is right

Federal tax revenues at an all time high:
Thats great, but pretty meaningless considering we're still going in the hole by hundreds of billions each year. But I get the point, we cut taxes and revenues are still going up. I do buy the idea that cutting taxes promotes more robust economic activity, therefore will increase tax revenues, to a point. I'd guess there are many more factors that have an influence also. It'd be interesting to see a detailed analysis of the cause and effect. Wouldn't it be nice if we got some benefit from the increase in federal tax revenues, as in balancing the budget or reducing our debt? Clinton did it, it can't be that hard.

"It does not include the class envy and warfare platform that seems to have traction among some."

First, using the term "class envy" has traction among some for the sole purpose of attacking people who express concerns about the erosion of the middle class in favor of giving benefits to the wealthy citizens. "Class warfare" is at least less offensive, but why do you choose to even go there? I think its stupid, but if you insist on inciting class warfare, you're damn right I'll fight for the middle class. Don't get me wrong, I want to be wealthy, I would love to be a millionaire, and when I get there I'll take my middle class values with me. Most of the rich people I know are idiots, they don't deserve respect, and I'm not going to give them respect just because they have money. Character counts. Thats a serious problem with American culture, people think you deserve respect automatically if you have money. Its ridiculous. And you just reinforce it with your class envy BS.

"Only congress appropriates spending and the Republicans have a shaky majority on a good day. If the Democratic leadership was so upset about deficit spending, they would have peeled off a couple of RINOs and stopped the runaway spending instead of adding on their pet earmarks and pork projects."

Do you listen to yourself bertly? A shaky Republican majority and Democrats could stop earmarks if they wanted. Excuses. Blame the other guy.
Its interesting you refer to the RINO's as the ones that would stop runaway spending. You see, you do recognize that Republicans, with a majority in Congress and the Presidency, the ones who set the agenda and control proceedings, are to blame for runaway spending on pork. Why fight reality?
That said, you're also right to an extent. Democrats are guilty of it too. They could fight it, but they don't. And I'll agree the Democratic leadership is deplorable. The only thing worse than the Democratic leadership is the Republican leadership. And Bush takes the cake.
Worst. President. Ever.

I did call you names bertly, it was borderline unfair, I called you a loonie and said you have a shallow perspective. It wasn't because I disagree with you. It was because the perspective you presented in that post was shallow. You basically said its a faulty trait of Bush to work with Democrats, you already blamed Democrats for future events caused during these 8 depressing years of Bush and Republican theocracy. I think that qualifies as loonie, unrealistic, partisan hackish.

Pleanty of blame
When things go badly, there is pleanty of blame to go around and it needs to be spread evenly. Many conservatives had to hold their nose and vote in the last two election cycles. There is a large difference between most Republicans and conservatives. I understand what is to blame for the shortcommings of our leadership in both parties. I chose not to call anyone names because I see politics and religion as realities we create for ourselves.
Good people can disagree, and need to in the spirit of open debate and freedom that so many have sacrificed so much to give us. My perspective like yours is based on my experience, knowledge, and emotions. Yours' is as important to you as mine is to me.

yes, double standards are an ingredient in the manure that is politics
I'm with you on the last part TJ. Dems certainly get no glory. Manure is right. More than ever politics is covered in manure, and I've never been a fan of politicians anyway. Both parties suck today, but I do criticize Republicans a lot more, because they have total power, and they're only making things much worse. We need to get back to power-sharing. I don't want the Democrats to control everything either.

Actually, I believe Clinton did balance the budget, but not without the influence of House Republicans. Actually, thanks to House Republicans. Its hard to believe how far the House has fallen in only 6 or 7 years. Clinton was a moron for not making balanced budgets a priority. Hell, it should be a law.

"Are you trying to tell us the Democrats aren't responsible for the energy problems we now face?"

Yes, I would agree Democrats aren't responsible for our energy problems today. Why would they be? Isn't this capitalism, free markets? Isn't it the responsibility of energy companies to build refineries, etc.? Why would oil companies WANT to build more refineries? They've been able to keep gas supplies reasonable, and as supply tightens they make more money. It wouldn't have been good business for them to increase supply before the market demands it. Regarding gasoline: I blame SUV's, car manufacturers, wasteful American habits, market forces, greedy corporations, the reality of a very mobile society. No one wants a refinery near their community, thats a factor also. Democrats are responsible for blocking more drilling in ANWR, but that wouldn't make much difference anyway and it would make zero difference in the short term. The answer is not more oil, its to drasticly reduce our demand for oil, ie. alternatives. I will blame Democrats for not pushing harder to raise CAFE standards or invest more in alternative fuel research, but 5 years ago Bush still had some credibility and he resoundly killed any chance for it then.
Electricity is another issue. Democrats might have some responsibility in no new nuclear plants, but I'm not well educated on that subject. Common sense tells me nuclear has the same situation as refineries, no one wants a nuclear plant near their community. Has there even been a serious effort to build a new nuclear plant? It seems thats more of a local issue than a federal effort to block it.

"That their stance on immigration isn't irrational?"

I'm ignorant on the details of what the Democrats want, but my perception is that they are onboard with the comprehensive bill being worked through Congress. And I don't think that bill is irrational. I'm actually a bit of a conservative on this issue, well, as usual, I'm more of a hybrid. I love the Minuteman project. Good for them. I love to see citizens step up and take responsibility. They live there so they know better than anyone else whats going on on the border. But its also insane to expect we're going to deport 11 million people here illegally. Its even more insane to expect we would deport them and then let them back in to go through a legal process. I'm totally against amnesty. I don't think the bill being discussed is amnesty. They pay fines, they're required to stay out of trouble, thats an acceptable penalty in my mind.

A pox on both their houses
Enjoyed your comment. I believe both parties are now in servitude to different interest groups and will sacrifice the good of the nation for political gain regardless of the long term consequences.

I'd like to see all elected offices limited to a single term to avoid what we now see and to destroy the influence of the political parties.

I believe we both concur that a balanced budget should be mandatory (except in time of a declared war). I would also define balanced as defined to balance income and expense, no bonds or deferred financing.

The energy problem exists because the free market has been subverted and has been for years. Nuclear power plants are built not because someone grants approval of a proposal but has become a nightmare process where all sorts of wacked out groups bring suit for ridiculous reasons allowing the judiciary to make outrageous decisions.

To illustrate this, Long Island Power built the Shoreham Nuclear power plant at a cost of 3 billion dollars. Having complied with all required requirements fringe tree huggers and their allies brought suit to stop the plant's operation unless it could be demonstrated that the entiure population within a hundred mile radius of the plant could be evacuated. A judge approved this, not caring about the corporations investment, its impact on shareholders or the impact on the power grid.

How can anyone justify fushing 3 billion dollars down the toilet on a caprice? I use the word carefully. Recall the ability of the population to flee New Orleans. It was simply impossible and hence this decision helped make any construction both risky and as an investment bordering on crazy. Now how has been hand maiden to the tree huggers the GOP?

In the same fashion refineries have been obstructed by the tree huggers and their allies. As far as the carnard that such projects are NIMBY there are thousands of areas in the US that would do anything to have such projects and the jobs and income that they bring. I doubt that Stanford might want a nuclear power plant but most of Arkansas or West VA would. You'll note that there has been no new nuclear power plants or refineries since about 1976 or when the Dems were on a roll.

Alternate fuels, energy is a joke. Every military, every corporation would love to find alternate sources. The only feasible one right now is nuclear. Compare France which depends on 80% of it power courtesy of its nuclear power plants compared to the US ten per cent.

As far as research on oil sands, wind power etc, if there is a profit let the market deal with it but its a joke when investors see the same people who call for this accuse the oil industry of profiteering. Its hard to understand such charges when the oil industry makes about 10 cents a gallon and all levels of government take about 60 cents. Who is profiteering?

The Democrats ended the old system of immigration in the 60s which altered how and who could enter the US to one which gave essentially every nation in the world the same number, 20,000 per year. Now reflect on this the UK can send 20,000 people as could Swaziland, Tonga, Jamica, Burma. Does this make sense?

Now the Democrats with an able assist from Bush and a bunch of corrupt GOPers are proposing an amnesty for 20 million illegals pledging to end the illegal problem. Since they have not enforced our immigration laws for 30 years why believe they will now?

The US takes more immigrants legally than the rest of the world combined, yet we absorb about a million illegals annually. This proposal would allow between 100-180 million aliens in over the next 20 years. All I can say is this country will not be the one I hggrew up in and I pity the taxpayers who will be burdened with the costs of such a massive inflex. You think we have traffic problems now? People driving without insurance? High crime? Housing shortages? Wages that never seem to go up? Declining living standards-if you think standards aren't declining recall that in the fifties most children had their mothers and home and today its a raity, so its hard to say we enjoy a better living standard when it takes two people working where in the past only one person provided the same.

Illegal immigration is a massive problem and isn't limited to border states. North Carolina has hundreds of thousands illegals.

Get dirty
I know a libertarian elected to a community college board. He has made decisions that are not always along a libertarian line.
Libertarian politicians will be forced to compromise themselves to the point they will be no different than the rest.
I suggest a wiser approach, but less egotistical, is to influence an existing party and I have heard of such a group of republicans.
Unfortunately state laws are construed to benefit established parties and gerymandering limits libertarian voting blocks.
So my advice, as stated earlier, it to first get republicans and independents to register as libertarians.

There are existing third parties I'd vote for
But Libertarians isn't one of them beause their positions seem to have the stability and consistency of jello. If I want to vote for a party that is willing to play ***** for votes or money two parties all ready exist.

Change can come if people care enough to get involved. Witness recent events in PA where corrupt and arrogant GOP leaders were thrown out in primaries. Or Ross Perro.

But I agree that the established parties are corrupt.

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