September 30, 2013

Thinking Outside the Two Party Box

In a previous column, I advocated the establishment of a viable third party for the millions of Americans who feel disenfranchised by Democrats and their get-along-to-go-along Republican counterparts. The predictable reaction? A third party will siphon votes from the Republicans and make Democrats unassailable. Historically speaking, that assessment is accurate. Yet the establishment Republicans’ reaction to Ted Cruz’s 21-hour marathon versus the reaction of the American public, leads me to the conclusion that we may be in the midst of an historically anomalous moment.

In a previous column, I advocated the establishment of a viable third party for the millions of Americans who feel disenfranchised by Democrats and their get-along-to-go-along Republican counterparts. The predictable reaction? A third party will siphon votes from the Republicans and make Democrats unassailable. Historically speaking, that assessment is accurate. Yet the establishment Republicans’ reaction to Ted Cruz’s 21-hour marathon versus the reaction of the American public, leads me to the conclusion that we may be in the midst of an historically anomalous moment.

Let me tell you what millions of Americans are tired of. They’re tired of a ruling class that exempts itself from the same laws they pass for the rest of us. They’re tired of that same political class re-arranging fiscal deck chairs on the USS Titanic, even as we approach another debt ceiling engendered by grossly irresponsible, out-of-control spending – nothing more, nothing less. Spending by the federal government is so out-of-control that it has doubled since 2000. American incomes have declined 7.2 percent over the same period.

Millions of Americans are tired of a Federal Reserve whose insane monetary policies are trashing the dollar, because propping up Wall Street and the banks allows the Obama administration to claim we’re in the midst of an economic recovery, even as the Fed itself let it be known that they’re going to continue buying $85 billion a month in bad paper precisely because the economy stinks. Couple that with a seemingly endless zero rate interest environment, and the message is clear: for irresponsible Americans who bought too much house, bankers who took too many risks, and able-bodied Americans who have made dependency a way of life, this Bud’s for you. Responsible Americans, who buy what they can afford, play by the rules, and take care of business?

Screw you.

Americans are tired of seeing cameras everywhere they turn, even as they know an out-of-control NSA checks out whoever they want, whenever they want, and claims “mistakes were made” when they commit gross violations of the Constitution. They’re tired of an IRS whose machinations, it could be legitimately argued, helped to steal the election for Barack Obama in 2012. They’re tired of politicians surrounded by body guards telling Americans gun control is for our own good, and using every mass murder by a deranged psychopath to argue that we should be made even more defenseless than we are right now. They’re tired of a ruling class that would legalize 30-40 million border-busters and their extended families in exchange for cheap votes and cheap labor, even as American families struggle to make ends meet. And they’re tired of a foreign policy that sent Americans to fight the very same terrorists we have subsequently rearmed, courtesy of the administration’s follies in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

I could go on, but you get the picture. It is a picture exacerbated by a Republican party that loves to talk the talk, but refuses to walk the walk because they’re deathly afraid that an utterly corrupt mainstream media won’t give them a fair shake – even as they won’t give the more principled members of their own party a fair shake, because they deem them too “radical” to succeed.

Really? Compared to whom? Nothing amuses me more than the typical leftist garbage – aided and abetted by these same establishment Republicans – that it is the American right who has become radicalized, even as the Democrat party has welcomed every socialist/Marxist, redistributionist, race-baiting, Alinsky-ite hack into its midst. Those who don’t believe that assessment should ask themselves how far a politician who believes in a strong military, a largely self-reliant populace and large tax cuts would go in today’s Democrat party.

If you answered virtually nowhere, you’d be right on the money. If you recognized those policies were heartily endorsed by a Democrat icon, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, you’d begin to get a clue about which political party has really undergone a radical transformation.

And yet establishment Republicans remain more than willing to split the difference with Democrats, under the banner of “compromise” in the House and “collegiality” in the Senate.

What’s the split-the-difference position between freedom and slavery? Solvency and national bankruptcy? The rule of law and executive fiat? All Constitution all the time, or only when it suits the ruling class’s political purposes?

I can’t imagine a scenario where I would agree one hundred percent with any politician’s positions, but it’s a lot easier to stomach those disagreements if I know the person advocating them is someone with principles. For example, I think Rand Paul’s isolationist impulses are misguided, but I don’t doubt for a second that he comes by them honestly. Ted Cruz’s speech was quixotic, but it galvanized millions of Americans who besieged their wimpy Republican representatives with phone calls as a result.

As I said in a previous column, I would much rather see Republicans challenge ObamaCare in court, based on the idea that the president violated the rule of law when he delayed the business mandate for a year, and ordered the Office of Personnel Management to find a way to continue subsidizing the health insurance premiums of Congress and their staffs. Both of those decisions are blatantly unconstitutional, and reveal the utter hypocrisy of those who say ObamaCare must be implemented, because it is the law of the land. Either it is – meaning all of it – or it isn’t. Why the GOP hasn’t even considered this approach speaks volumes about one of two things: their maddening impotency, or their willingness to abet Democrats’ statist impulses.

Yet even those conservatives who get what’s going on are loath to challenge the two-party orthodoxy, insisting that a GOP “civil war” is the superior way to go. Why? At best, the GOP is a damaged brand. Six years of Democrat-like fiscal profligacy perpetrated during the Bush administration, and preposterously sold as “compassionate conservatism” was the next to last step in the march towards irrelevancy. The final step is unfolding today: the GOP establishmentarians advocate policies aimed at winning over people who despise them, even as those policies alienate a base that has traditionally supported them.

That’s not a strategy. That’s a death wish.

In considering the choice between GOP reform and the establishment of third party, the first question genuine conservatives need to ask themselves is, which scenario will take longer to play out. Before you answer, note that in the Senate, John McCain has served for 27 years, Mitch McConnell, 28 years and Lindsey Graham, 10 years. In the House John Boehner has served for 23 years and Eric Cantor,12 years. Also, imagine a scenario where people like Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee, along with House Reps. Trey Gowdy, Tim Huelskamp, Steve King and a host of other conservative fighters announced they were interested in embracing the idea.

Undoable, the critics say. Maybe so. But again, the difficulty of the idea must be measured against the status quo, the one that is unlikely to change any faster – and the one that leaves as much as 45 percent of the nation without genuine representation. Since 2011, the percentage of Americans who want a third party has vacillated between 55 and 45 percent. Three quarters of Americans despise Congress and 64 percent believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. A whopping 79 percent of Americans want spending reduced.

Those numbers indicate one thing above all else: for millions of Americans, the notion that we have a government of, by and for the people is a bald-face lie. I don’t believe there is anything about the two-party status quo that will change that reality.

My suggestions for a third party platform are simple: promote limited and fiscally responsible government that will wind down both the debt and the bureaucracy in a responsible, but determined way. Insist that laws apply to every one equally, including the politicians. Support term limits. For an economic recovery, provide the job-creators with incentive, not coercion. With regard to the media, be prepared to control the agenda, and take them to task when they attempt to frame the issues. With regard to the social issues that inevitably bog down the process, keep your distance, and let Americans continue to argue about social issues on their own.

As I said at the opening of this piece, I recognize the historical difficulty in pursuing this, but I am virtually certain history is irrelevant. People are fed up, and I’d bet the farm that a party emphasizing the greatness of this nation, and the inherent goodness of its people will resonate beyond the pessimists’ wildest dreams. We are still, as Ronald Reagan once remarked, a “shining city on a hill.” We just need to take out the garbage and get our house back in order. Don’t let the naysayers tell you it can’t happen. The reality is, it can’t happen soon enough.

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