I must admit to being somewhat seduced by the Revolution of 1994. Oh I’m sure you remember it, don’t you? The election of that year marked the exact moment in time of our great Republican rescue—the moment when the scope, influence, and cost of government began its sharp decline owing to the power shift in Washington after decades of a Democrat stranglehold.
After all, that was the whole point of it, wasn’t it? Had not the republicans campaigned on the promise of finally delivering a whole cornucopia of government-limiting delights—things like accountability, term limits, tax cuts, welfare reform, balanced-budget amendments, cutting and even eliminating bureaucracies, and so on? They even wrote it up in a nice little Contract with America.
In 1994, the year prior to the republicans storming in to clean up the place, the federal budget was already an astounding $1.2 trillion. In 2004, 10 years later, the budget is $2.4 trillion, a 100% increase. They doubled the already bloated federal government in the mere space of 10 years. In that same 10-year period, the U.S. population grew by 30 million people, from 260 million to 290 million, an 11% increase.
I’ve had enough. I don’t need to know a single thing more. Why I ever expected anything different though is an introspective mystery and quite thoroughly beyond my comprehension. In an article titled The Culture: The Nanny State, Nicholas Provenzo comments on a Time Magazine article, The Nanny in Chief, by Andrew Sullivan, and points out that perhaps the Republicans have never really been about limited government as they have so long claimed. To support this notion, he excerpts a section from Ayn Rand’s essay, Conservatism: An Obituary. It reads:
It is generally understood that those who support the "conservatives," expect them to uphold the system which has been camouflaged by the loose term of "the American way of life." The moral treason of the "conservative" leaders lies in the fact that they are hiding behind that camouflage: they do not have the courage to admit that the American way of life was capitalism, that that was the politico-economic system born and established in the United States, the system which, in one brief century, achieved a level of freedom, of progress, of prosperity, of human happiness, unmatched in all the other systems and centuries combined—and that that is the system which they are now allowing to perish by silent default.
If the "conservatives" do not stand for capitalism, they stand for and are nothing; they have no goal, no direction, no political principles, no social ideals, no intellectual values, no leadership to offer anyone.
Yet capitalism is what the "conservatives" dare not advocate or defend. They are paralyzed by the profound conflict between capitalism and the moral code which dominates our culture: the morality of altruism. Altruism holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue, and value. Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. The conflict between capitalism and altruism has been undercutting America from her start and, today, has reached its climax.
As Mr. Provenzo also points out, Rand wrote this in 1966.
So what conclusions can we possibly draw? The notion of Republicans being for small and limited government is simply untrue and unfounded. In fact, since the time of Nixon, the federal government has grown most rapidly when the White House has been in the hands of Republicans. G.W. Bush has not vetoed a single bill put before him so far in his term. But in his most recent State of the Union Address, he did raise the withering threat of a veto:
In January of 2006, seniors can get prescription drug coverage under Medicare. For a monthly premium of about $35, most seniors who do not have that coverage today can expect to see their drug bills cut roughly in half. Under this reform, senior citizens will be able to keep their Medicare just as it is, or they can choose a Medicare plan that fits them best—just as you, as members of Congress, can choose an insurance plan that meets your needs. And starting this year, millions of Americans will be able to save money tax-free for their medical expenses, in a health savings account.
I signed this measure proudly, and any attempt to limit the choices of our seniors, or to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare, will meet my veto.
So, he’s only willing to use his veto for something that threatens to decrease the size and scope of the federal government. Such conservatism.
Toward the end of a 1996 article, The Revolution That Never Was, C. Bradley Thompson gets to the crux of the matter:
There will never be a genuine political revolution in this country until there is a moral revolution. That means that the American people must be willing to renounce the ethics of altruism—that is, the moral philosophy that requires from you a moral obligation to support the less fortunate whether you want to or not. And yet this is precisely the moral principle that Republicans and conservative intellectuals seem unwilling to renounce. In fact, they seem more frightened by the idea of having to defend the true principles of the American Revolution than in attacking altruism. Republicans are constitutionally incapable of defending the notion that individuals have an inalienable right to their own lives—which means, that each and every individual owns his or her own life and all the fruits of one’s labor.
In any political battle between two camps that share the same moral principle, it will always be the more consistent advocate who wins. Until Americans stop feeling guilty about redistributing wealth and eliminating the handouts given to the "needy," socialist ideology will continue to govern America regardless of which party is in power.
What else is there to conclude but that the Republicans have perpetuated a big fraud? They have never really stood for what they have claimed to stand for. And it’s not that they simply lack the political will, it is that they lack the necessary and imperative moral convictions entirely, but go about fraudulently promising to do what cannot be done within the framework of the premises they do hold.
They deserve no one’s support.
At least the Democrats are “trustworthy.” They promise to increase the size, scope, and cost of government, and they deliver on that promise consistently and unabashedly. Their problem is one of simple dishonesty in demonizing the virtuous while canonizing scoundrels—within an overall framework of foisting guilt upon the most productive and cultivating an esprit of entitlement and victimhood on the moochers.
So, take your pick, the fraud of the Republicans or the manipulative dishonesty of the Democrats. There is a third, principled option, which is to not participate at all and just jeer from the stands. That’s where you’ll find me.
(Some links above via Improved Clinch. Additional inspiration provided by Billy Beck.)