Thursday, 16 December 2010 10:39 by Admin
Centennial Institute Fellow Kevin Miller has brought out a book-length treatment of his provocative essay on freedom and virtue in American politics, published last year in Centennial Review. Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally - or Socialism was released Nov. 29 by Denali Press. Learn more and order the book here.
Bill Armstrong, the former US senator who now heads Colorado Christian University, says the book is "full of passion, wisdom, and horse sense... Kevin Miller is an important thinker." John Andrews, director of Centennial Institute, calls it a guidebook for helping "conservatives rediscover the 'render to Caesar principle," without which "America won't remain the land of the free."
Miller's argument in brief, adds James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Peoples Will Lead the World in the 21st Century, is that "while freedom is an attribute of political system, virtue is an attribute of human beings -- and so the attempt to use the state to pursue visions of virtue is undermining the republic of the Founders."
('76 Editor) My column yesterday, two posts below this one, didn't have room for several important quotes from sources I talked to. I will add them here. First, as a valuable reference, don't miss Isaac Smith's comprehensive bibliography of published material about the Colorado Democracy Alliance and related groups. It's a sort of election transparency primer, which Smith has authorized Centennial Institute to release for the first time. Election Transparency - A Primer Naturally I approached Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer, since they literally wrote the book on this whole thing. Schrager declined to comment for the record, other than referring me to a buzz in the left blogosphere last month about what is being called "the Western Firewall," a Democrat-saving difference from the Rockies to the Pacific. But when I put this question to Witwer -- "How did the 2010 election results verify or modify your analysis of new political realities as presented in The Blueprint"? -- he replied as follows:
The 2010 elections show that all the advertising in the world doesn't add up to much if the infrastructure isn't there to support it. Campaign finance reform all but killed political parties, and the infrastructure they once provided is now being outsourced to nonprofit organizations. Colorado Democrats figured that out earlier, and have implemented it more effectively, than their GOP counterparts. Here in Colorado, Democrats withstood the national tidal wave and saved the top two prizes: the U.S. Senate and Governor's seats. They also held on to their majority in the state Senate. 2010 was never going to be a good year for Colorado Democrats, but with superior infrastructure and a relentless ground game, they minimized their losses -- and pulled off an upset or two in the process. To win in the twenty-first century, you need a thriving network of nonprofits to build the kind of infrastructure necessary to sustain a succesful political movement. All the TV ads in the world won't help if your side doesn't have a political infrastructure in place. TV just isn't enough anymore, and heavy spending on ads quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns. To win, you need a network of coordinated groups to provide a social media presence, thorough opposition research, a campaign of non-stop pressure on the mainstream media, databases full of detailed information on voters, and an army of door-to-door vote-getters.
On the CoDA side, mastermind Mike Huttner would not go on record either, asking me to work instead with Kjersten Forseth, who recently took over for him as interim executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, the granddaddy of all infrastructure groups. I'll quote my exact query as put to her by phone and then by email, to show how specific I was inviting her to be -- and then her admirably robotic, terse and utterly uninformative reply. These people are drilled!
Andrews: On page 208 of "The Blueprint" by Schrager and Witwer, they quote Mike Huttner as saying: "I believe Colorado's progressive infrastructure will work as a buttress [against] the potential tidal wave against Democrats in November." So my question to you is, did that indeed occur to the benefit of Bennet, the state Senate, and the Perlmutter race? If so, what specifically provided the benefit? And what role did the progressive infrastructure play in bringing to light McInnis's problems, thus throwing the GOP nomination to Maes?
Forseth: ProgressNow Colorado had a very successful year exposing candidates' extreme positions and actions. ProgressNow cut though the political rhetoric and backpedaling so voters were able to make informed decisions about their candidates.
Mark Hillman, the former state senator and treasurer who is now Colorado's Republican National Committeeman, had this to say:
The recent election verified that CODA is invested for the long-haul. Just as they seek to maximize Democrat gains in favorable years, their strategy is to minimize Democrat losses in unfavorable elections, like 2010. CODA had far more influence on the 2010 election than either the Democrat or Republican state parties. Wealthy Democrats, labor unions and trial lawyers are committed for the long-haul and it's paying off. Republicans can't be competitive year in and year out unless business leaders and wealthy donors are willing to make that same commitment.
Finally, an experienced GOP player and observer, speaking on background, reinforced much of what Hillman and Witwer had said, when he wrote to me as follows:
At the statewide level, we remain too dependent upon an impotent, irrelevant State Party for basic functions and messaging. The Dems abandoned their Party a decade ago and ran everything through the unions and interest groups. If you ask a high-level Dem when was the last time that the Democratic Party ran its own GOTV effort, he'll say they never did. It was always the unions.
But it's notable that our state legislative leadership made gains for the past two cycles (net +1 in 2008 and +7 in 2010). The House has done particularly well, gaining 8 seats since 2008. That kind of success for the Dems from 2000-2004 was national news, but our gains are practically unreported in comparison. The bottom line is that it took us 4 years to figure out how the Dems play in legislative races post-Amendment 27, and now our House leaders know what to do to be successful and have shown repeated success for the first time in over a decade. By comparison, it seems Senate leaders still have some learning to do. They aren't raising as much money, they are in-fighting, and they spread their money too thinly over five districts. McNulty, enroute to becoming Speaker-elect, raised the money, and only invested in a race when he knew he had enough money to fully compete.
(Denver Post, Dec. 5) What is CoDA? If you said a rock group, a wonder drug, or a state agency, you’re wrong. It’s the Colorado Democracy Alliance, today’s smartphone successor to the old dialup state Democratic Party. CoDA’s coup in turning Colorado blue is related in this year’s most important political book, “The Blueprint,” by Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer.
What is infrastructure? If you said the streets and sewers in our cities, or the shovel-ready projects in Obama’s imagination, wrong again. It’s the stealthy political network of message groups, ethics watchdogs, litigators, voter registration cadres, and money conduits that the left wins with while the right eats their dust. Ken Buck and Tom Tancredo have said infrastructure was one reason they lost.
What reduced Scott McInnis from favorite to fiasco overnight? If you said investigative journalism, or
Maes’s magic, or Scott’s own bumbling, nope. Infrastructure operatives dug up the McInnis plagiarism story, then CoDA groups spent $500,000 on TV ads alerting Republican voters. Maes nominated, Tancredo in play, Hick in control, game over.
All of this is quite legal. But Schrager, a 9News reporter, and Witwer, a former GOP legislator, explain in their book that CoDA hoped to remain a secret forever. A leak from whistle-blower Isaac Smith, a young idealist who was “fed up with both parties,” in his words, ended the secrecy in 2008. Yet too many in my party are still sidetracked on vetting fantasies or RINO name-calling, when they ought to be memorizing “The Blueprint” and organizing to fight back.
CoDA’s godfathers include billionaire Tim Gill, who boasted to The Atlantic in 2007, “They won’t know what hit them,” and propagandist Michael Huttner, who correctly predicted to Schrager and Witwer that “Colorado’s progressive infrastructure will work as a buttress” to limit the damage here in 2010, regardless of Dem losses elsewhere. They still want a low profile for their brainchild; Huttner wouldn’t comment for this story.
Yet much as we’re soothingly told, Oz-fashion, to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” there are two important reasons why everyone in Colorado should gain a working knowledge of the CoDA infrastructure and the new electoral landscape. Both are American as apple pie, nonpartisan as Li’l Abner: a fair fight and good government.
Unless conservatives climb back to parity with liberals’ sophisticated machinery, in this era when campaign laws have neutered the old party organizations, we’ll keep losing the biggest races to candidates like Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper who care little for limited government or free markets. We’ll see GOP newcomers like Congressman Cory Gardner and Treasurer Walker Stapleton beleaguered with infrastructure attacks from their first day in office. Not fair.
And unless all of us as citizens, left, right, and center, equip ourselves with honest awareness of who is doing what to whom, we’ll be left with that uneasy feeling of suckers at a carnival shell game. When Democratic dollars tip Republican primaries for Maes in Colorado and Sharon Angle in Nevada, it smells corrupt, even if legal. Not good.
Such manipulation ultimately endangers America. As former Gov. Dick Lamm, himself a Democrat, wrote in recommending the Schrager-Witwer book, CoDA presages a brave new world “where winning is everything and there is no moral bottom line.” Do we want that?
“It was unethical at best,” Isaac Smith says of the CoDA scheming he stumbled upon as a Bighorn Center intern. “And so hypocritical,” he adds, what with his employers’ sanctimonious advocacy of Amendment 41 and the talk of getting big money out of politics. Out of sight, maybe; but hardly out.
You hear about government transparency, where spending is in plain sight. Shouldn’t we also have election transparency and open politics? Read “The Blueprint” over the coming holidays. It will wise you up for the razzle-dazzle of 2011.
(Centennial Fellow) Good intentions will get you if you don't watch out. That's true of the invasion of the body scanners, of minimum wage laws, of some welfare programs and -- please don't forget it -- a supposedly altruistic push by federal agencies and politicians to put low-income families in their own homes. Again and again, the government throws us lifesavers that aren't lifesavers at all, but weighty, entangling devices that ensnare us, sink us, drown us. Because body scanners won't detect bombs in body cavities, they'll do no good even as they humiliate airline ticket-holders on a scale only a world power could devise. As literally dozens of studies have proven, minimum wage laws invariably cost workers jobs because employers cannot afford the new standards. And those mortgages the government insisted banks bestow on those who could not afford to pay them? All they did was contribute mightily to a rash of foreclosures, the worst financial crisis in decades and a recession wrecking the lives of millions of people. To learn the real lowdown on how good motives can produce bad results, it helps to heed the writings and speeches of Jay Richards, a Princeton philosophy-theology Ph.D., author of "Money, Greed, and God," and someone whose thoughts I recently took in at a speech at Colorado Christian University. "Piety is no substitute for technique," he said, quoting the Christian philosopher Etienne Gilson and adding this by way of explanation in the book: "What he meant is that having the right intentions, being oriented in the right way, doesn't take the place of doing things right." A pilot, Richards wrote, may care deeply about his passengers, and that's fine. But what you mostly want from the person in the cockpit is skill in flying the plane. And while people should care deeply about the poor, more than a caring heart is needed, Richards adds. An alert mind is just as necessary, one that understands, for instance, that free markets have succeeded remarkably in rescuing humankind from impoverishment at the same time various socialist escapades have failed miserably. Offering a variety of examples of how "intent does not determine effect," Richards came at one point in the speech to the financial crisis so often summed up as resulting from nothing more than "greed on Wall Street" and "capitalism run amok." There are other places to look for causes, he said, such as at "NINJA loans," mortgages extended to people with "no income, no jobs and no assets," a practice encouraged by numerous office holders and vastly enabled by the quasi-governmental institutions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Richards is dead right, in my estimation. Few would discount Wall Street recklessness, but it was a recklessness abetted in endless ways, such as overly low interest rates instituted by the Federal Reserve and the insistence of various White House residents that mortgages be extended to borrowers with awful credit ratings. Bankers would have been scared to miserliness by the sight of them if they weren't more scared by a government leviathan that was simultaneously easing the way. Despite the concerns of some that the whole thing could come tumbling down, the folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were happy-go-lucky, snatching up the subprime mortgages and fashioning them into disaster-prone securities. Here's a phrase that ought to inform the thinking of makers of public policy every minute of their day -- unintended consequences. They are almost inevitable when a favored few figure they can manage the particulars of the lives of millions better than the millions themselves can. I myself will usually grant the good intentions of the activists forever having at us with their major-league programs, but for reasons of hubris, imprudence and inadequate appreciation of freedom in the economy and in individual conduct, their techniques are too often not up to their intentions. Centennial Institute Fellow Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.
(Centennial Fellow) If we see the competition for power between Democrats and Republicans as a main theme, then modern American political history is exactly one hundred and fifty years old.
This history can be neatly divided into three distinct eras: Republican dominance 1860-1930, Democratic dominance 1930-1980, and Republican restoration 1980 to present.
Each of these eras was launched by a charismatic President who took office in traumatic circumstances, undertook great tasks, persevered through great turmoil, overcame formidable opponents, and successfully delivered the country to a rebirth of its competence, confidence, and prosperity. Accordingly Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan who delivered us respectively from Civil War and slavery; Depression and World War; and domestic economic chaos, and foreign policy humiliation made a deep and enduring impression on their countrymen who raised them to iconic status despite the abuse heaped upon them during their Presidencies. Finally, they changed the way Americans thought of themselves and the political parties that they held to judgment every two years.
While the Age of Lincoln has largely receded into the mists of history, the Age of Roosevelt remains very much with us. The political landscape established by FDR endured for half a century because the Democrats were truly a “Big Tent” party. They brought together elements from every region of the country, reconciled philosophical opposites (e.g. rural southern segregationists, and urban northern civil rights advocates), and united them in an overarching common purpose: delivering the votes that would keep the Democratic Party in power in perpetuity.
The Roosevelt Coalition crashed and burned in the 1960’s in a perfect storm of mismanaged war, racial conflict, and cultural upheaval. The party then began a baleful long march in an increasingly leftward direction in the process shedding the Southerners, conservatives, and even moderates who had been important players in the Democrats Big Tent Era. This trend would win increased influence and eventually complete dominance for the Liberal Progressives who had been a loud but relatively small element in the Democratic Party going all the way back to the 19th century.
During this period Republicans were reinventing themselves as an essentially conservative party espousing free markets, individual freedom, and strong defense. Success came slowly, but in 1980 the combination of the disastrous Carter regime and the optimistic, inclusive, and principled leadership of Ronald Reagan brought triumph to the Republican Party as evidenced by the Gipper carrying 93 of a possible 100 states in his two Presidential runs. Thanks to the migration of the “Reagan Democrats” the GOP was now the true “Big Tent” party while the Democrats drifted increasingly toward European style socialism and an unending parade of Left and further Left Presidential candidates.
During the thirty years of the Reagan Era the GOP has held the White House for 20 years, the Senate for 18 years, the House for 12 years, and an edge in Governorships, and State Legislatures as well.
The extended Republican ascendancy has provided one vital advantage to Democrats: it has enabled them to portray themselves not as they actually are or in terms of what they really wanted to do but rather as a make-believe party of reasonable moderates espousing all good things for all good people while almost never being fully responsible for delivering the goods and always being in a position- aided by a liberal media- to blame the Republicans for everything.
Only twice in this 30 year period (1992-94 and 2008-2010) has the country got a brief glimpse of what the Democrats are really like and where they want to move American society when they get both hands on the steering wheel (i.e. control of White House and both houses of Congress). Both times the American people recoiled in horror and punished the Democrats severely in historic mid-term elections.
After the Republican blow-out of 1994 the people allowed Republicans to retain control of Congress for a dozen years and were satisfied with the Republican President for the final six years of that period.
Republicans however ultimately did not meet the test of good stewardship. Domestically they became almost as addicted to big government, big spending, and perpetuating their own power as had the Democrats before them. On the international front they launched an invasion of Iraq that in the end they could neither win nor adequately explain to the American people.
This lamentable track record gave the Democrats all the opportunity they needed and in consecutive election cycles the people ousted the Republicans from control of Congress and the Presidency.
Once again the Democrats controlled all the levers of power, but they apparently had learned nothing from their debacle of 1992-94, and with unprecedented ideological fervor renewed their crusade to transform America into the statist paradise of their dreams. In doing so they exposed themselves in all their naked arrogance and contempt for the American people and the democratic institutions that had sustained the country for over two centuries.
Nemesis quickly followed. Impervious to being mocked by the elites, the people rose up in all their sovereign majesty and once again demonstrated that in the world’s one true Exceptional Nation, the people will always be bigger than the government.
In the Republican landslide the most striking element was not the Senate, or even the stunning turn-around in the House, but rather the unprecedented gain of nearly 700 legislative seats and control of 56 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers; an ascendancy not reached since 1928.
This electoral tsunami at the base of the political pyramid cannot be explained merely as a rejection of bad policy and legislation at the national level. Rather it suggests that a highly attentive populace has seen the true character of the Democratic Party and its unchanging statist mission with a new clarity and they have clearly rejected it. For the Republicans the election was not their victory but their opportunity to redeem themselves.
The only real victory on Nov. 2nd belongs to the American people who saw the Democratic record for what it was- an existential threat to the American Democracy and its handmaiden, the American Dream.
Let Freedom Ring!
('76 Contributor) Bipartisanship is greatly overrated as a formula for good government. Every major government boondoggle in recent memory was launched with bipartisan enthusiasm. Bipartisanship has its role in the day-to-day affairs of government. What separates genuine bipartisanship from bogus bipartisanship is one thing: honesty.
In Congress or any state legislature, it is normal for hundreds of bills to be passed with bipartisan support because much of government consists of making adjustments or improvements in ongoing programs that have broad public support. When dealing with the core functions of government, we seldom see sharp divisions along party lines.
But what we see today is a different thing. Bipartisanship is being urged on Republicans not as a "let's split the difference" compromise for a specific bill but as a principle for shaping the very definition of the problem to be solved. For example, if Republicans agree that the problem to be solved in a budget crisis is a "shortfall in revenues," then the compromise solution will inevitably be some level of tax increases to make up the "shortfall." This then becomes a debate over how to finance the growth of government, not how to reduce the size of government.
The Republican Party won victories in congressional and state races by promising to roll back Obamacare and other expansions of government. If they now squander those victories by abandoning the small-government agenda, they will deserve the scorn and ridicule of not only tea-party activists but concerned citizens everywhere.
In Colorado, the state now has a liberal Democratic governor-elect, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and a split legislature. Republicans are in the majority in the House and Democrats control the Senate. In this situation, neither party can control the legislative agenda. The question conservatives in Colorado are asking is: Will the legislative agenda become truly "bipartisan," or will Republicans be maneuvered into debating the details of compromises on the Democratic agenda?
To have a chance at genuine compromise and honest bipartisanship, Republicans must first have an agenda of their own. When leading Colorado Republicans like former Gov. Bill Owens join the Democratic governor-elect's transition team, that serves to give the Democrats' agenda a patina of "bipartisanship" at the outset. When the Democratic agenda is baptized a "bipartisan agenda" on Day 1, by not only the liberal media and interest groups but by a group of co-opted Republicans, legislators who don't buy into that agenda can be easily stigmatized as "partisan obstructionists."
Selling out your party's platform and policy agenda before the first shot is fired is a form of pre-emptive compromise that ought to be called by its right name: surrender. It is not bipartisanship in search of genuine solutions; it is gamesmanship in search of favorable press clippings. Such behavior may be acceptable to "party elders" who are accountable to no one, but it is not acceptable for elected representatives sent to the capitol to tackle tough problems and seek real solutions based on constitutional principles.
As other conservative leaders have observed, Big Government is on autopilot and programmed for a crash. Republicans need to find the off switch. Government needs a fundamental change in direction, not a spare fuel tank.
In Colorado, for example, Republicans in the state legislature would be smart to offer their own agenda as quickly as possible and not wait for the Democrats' "partnership" agenda, which will validate the status quo and seek "innovative" and "creative" (read: deceptive) ways to finance the continued growth of government. They could start with proposing a voucher system for public schools, adoption of the federal E-verify program for denying jobs to illegal aliens, a 10 percent across-the-board reduction in each state agency's budget except transportation, and phasing out state support for the state university system.
The clock is running out for the Republican Party. If they do not begin delivering on their promises, the grass-roots citizens' rebellion that swept them into office will find another vehicle for restoring constitutional liberties. In football terms, it is the middle of the fourth quarter, the score is Big Government 24, Small Government 3, and a field goal is not an acceptable play call.
Tom Tancredo is a former five-term congressman from Colorado, 2008 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and 2010 independent candidate for governor. He currently serves as chairman of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and co-chairman of TeamAmericaPac. Tancredo is the author of "In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America's Border and Security." This article first appeared on WorldNetDaily.com, Nov. 13
(Centennial Fellow) This essay is my argument for why America needs the Republican Party and the Tea Party to combine forces to form a semi-new political party, the GOTP or Grand Old Tea Party. William F. Buckley wrote in 1955 that National Review "stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it." Had Mr. Buckley's wisdom been heeded the Republican Party today would be yelling Stop! In fact, it is not yelling stop, nor has it yelled stop since at least the 1980s. At best, Republicans have been in concert with the Democrats using the refrain "slow down, slow down" to the opposition's "speed up speed up." Now more than ever, it seems that as Will Rogers once said, there is not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. Look to the record.
Bush Republicans outspent Bill Clinton's administration. Admittedly, Clinton did not have united government but the Republicans did. If the Bush Republicans have stood athwart history they would not have increased the size of the budget the debt and the government. At best they slowed the growth.
The American people have come to understand this. If one looks at the polls Republicans are not much more popular than are Democrats. Granted, the Republicans will take control of the House and, and with the cooperation of Blue-Dog Democrats, have a good deal of power in the Senate. Allow me to ask whether this is a good thing? Assume Republicans control both Houses and stand athwart President Obama. What are the chances, without the influence of the Tea Party or more importantly Tea Party members in the legislature, repealing Obamacare in toto? With utmost respect--it will not happen!
There any number of reasons this will not happen. What mitigates against change in the Congress is the Norm of Universalism. Walter J. Stone, relying on the researches of David Mayhew, says that the Norm of Universalism states that the "activities in which members of Congress engage to get themselves reelected, do not usually hinder other members' attempt to get reelected." He goes on to state that in the Madisonian theory, "each legislator's reelection depends on his ability to satisfy general policy interests." This will bring members into conflict, resulting in compromise. But the Norm of Universalism is contrary to the Madisonian theory, and, "conflict among legislators may even make their individual reelection more difficult." Conflict between members would greatly reduce particularized benefits, Congressional benefits targeted at particular constituency, i.e. earmarks. Stone concludes everyone wins! Except government, the national debt and deficits continue to grow. Thus, change is stifled but the growth of government continues because it is in each individual member’s re-election interest to buy constituents votes by doling out government largesse. If it occurred in a back alley and not the floor of Congress they would all go to jail. Paul Jacob, Senior Fellow, Americans for Limited Government, says, "[T]he message being sent, clearly, is that Senators [and by extension members of the House] aren't supposed to challenge other members' notions of the worthiness of state projects."
As professional politicians, mainstream Republicans are most interested in keeping their seats in the House and Senate. While I am unable to read minds, one can see "moderate" Republicans not taking candy from babies, that is, not removing healthcare benefits and entitlements. How politically dangerous is it to remove benefits citizens who already have those benefits? What are the chances "moderate" Republicans will stop funding mass transit while our interstate highway and road system continues to deteriorate? Will they attempt to return to a real balance between state and national government by repealing laws like the National Drug Enforcement Act which do not allow individual states to govern themselves as they see fit. Will the "moderate" Republicans actually cut the size of government?
Let me continue this thought experiment. If my hypothesis is correct, that mainstream Republicans will do little to actually change government over the next two years, Republicans will chip away at a variety of different programs, Pres. Obama will become known as the veto president, blaming Republicans for being against progress. Second, I think it is reasonable to believe that, following fully four years of failure, President Obama will step down as a one term president. He does not seem to enjoy the job of president. And, as George Stephanopoulos has said, Obama does not like the theater of politics, a crucial part of presidential leadership as Ronald Reagan fully understood.
By 2012, assuming my scenario is correct, we will have had six years of united government under the Republicans in which we got two wars, bigger government, and bigger debt. We then had four years, 2006 to 2010, of Democrats in the legislature, 2 years of which were united government under Democratic rule and got the greatest depression since, well, the Great Depression. Unless the Republican majority actually changes things, and I do not believe there is any reason to believe Amoderate@ Republicans will change anything, the only rational behavior for the American voter will be to consciously choose divided government.
The voters will retain the Republican Congress and choose a different Democratic president, read Hillary Clinton. Imagine the excitement of Democrats if they can make history two times in a row: electing the first black president then electing the first female president. On the other hand, if the GOTP is perfectly strategic, it will outbid the Democrats by nominating Michele Bachmann for president and Marco Rubio for vice president. Imagine the angst of liberals in this dilemma.
Unless you believe the racist argument, which is of course childish and moronic, Obama and the Democrats are losing because they promised change and did not deliver. In addition, the change they did bring is not very popular with the American people. But I think the fundamental problem is, as political scientist Theodore Lowi says in his book AThe Personal Presidency,@ Obama and the Democrats raised expectations well beyond an achievable level. What then will the Republicans do when they get into office? Again, if I am right, not much, but they will be saddled with the same expectation level as Obama had! AModerate@ Republicans cannot stand athwart history but merely astride it. One thing the 2006 and 2008 elections demonstrated is that the American people do want change. I believe that most Americans, especially now that large numbers of baby boomers have been forced to grow up, are disgusted with politics of the past forty two years. What Obama tapped into in the 2008 campaign was very much what Ronald Reagan understood: what Americans want of their president is an heroic figure who congregates America in search of justice. This conception of a charismatic leader is replete in presidential literature. I think it is best represented in H. Mark Roelofs, AThe Prophetic President: Charisma in the American Political Tradition.@ What the American people want of their legislature is simply less, not more. The traditional role of Congress has harmonizer of diverse interests is no longer sustainable. And what we want most in our daily lives is more control over our daily lives. We want more control of our children=s education which costs too much and does not produce educated citizens, more control over local police who have become tax collectors, and less control, as the anti-Federalists foresaw, from far-off Washington D. C.
Right now the idea of the Tea Party is more popular than the Republican Party. Therefore, what is best for the people, for the long term interests of the nation as opposed to the short-term calculation of reelection, is to weave the spirit as well as the ideas of the Tea Party into the Republican Party, forming a new political party, The Grand Old Tea Party. The Republican Party, which is conservative on social values and political values, is unlike the Tea Party, which is fiscally and economically conservative. If the Republican Party embraces not just the ideas of the Tea Party, but welcomes Tea Party members in the House and the Senate wholeheartedly into the new party, the American people will feel as though they have actually influenced politics. If the Republican majority does not appoint Tea Party members to major positions in the legislature and the party, the edge conservatives have now will be lost. The expectations of independents along the continuum to conservatives will be sacrificed on the altar of self-interest. What conservative politics in America, and indeed, the American future needs is to write a new book, AProfiles in Conservative Courage,@ showing that there are conservatives politicians who actually can govern virtuously. This is change we can believe in.
The current makeup of the Republican Party, fighting off the continuing onslaughts of Democrats, is unsustainable. It might be the influence of Saul Alinsky, it may be that Liberals are just childish brats who never grew up and thus do not have the ability to admit they have been mistaken and withdrawing gracefully to a loyal opposition. The fact is these people are brilliant, much better Than Republicans, at raw politics. Consider the John Roberts hearings. They would not allow Mr. Roberts to leave without a firm commitment to precedent. Make no mistake, they were not arguing on the basis of legal theory. Rather, they take the term "progressive" literally. The old saw of progress being two steps forward, one step back is entirely lost on true believers. They refuse, at almost any cost, to take any step backward. Indeed, look at the language that I am using. Progressives talk in terms steps forward and back. These are not concrete terms but the manipulation of language; Progressives know what they are doing. Conservatives are out of step in political language. What the GOTP can bring to the table is a new language, composed of direction, right and wrong, of correcting mistakes, not going backwards. The Tea Party offers the message that we are on the wrong track, headed in the wrong direction, and we must fix, not just ameliorate, these wrongs. The current Republican Party is incapable of either expressing these ideas or taking the ideas seriously.
What then is to be done? The GOTP must dedicate the next two years exclusively to economic issues. There are many substantive issues the Congress must deal with, to keep itself, as well as the country going. And of course, there is always the possibility of foreign affairs completely derailing the agenda. However, the new party must resist the tendency to broaden its appeal in order to win the next election. The GOTP will have been elected in order to create jobs and fundamentally change the way government interacts in the economy. Thus, for example, the GOTP must have an absolute ban on all earmarks. One of the things that annoy voters is when politicians go back on their promises. The GOTP, in order to be a truly different party, must gain the trust of the people. If we say we are going to do something we must do it at all costs. Going back on our word with Ajust one little earmark, which is crucial,@ will show we are just another bunch of hacks.
The GOTP must also be committed to truly changing the size of government. This can only be done with bold moves used intelligently. What I mean by this is not just turning off the White House lights or lowering the temperature in government buildings as Jimmy Carter did. The only truly effective way in which to cut the size of the federal government is to reinstate the powers which have been taken away by this Democratic Leviathan.
This necessitates two constitutional amendments: an amendment overturning the 17th amendment and a Federalism amendment. I fully understand the problems inherent in these moves. Understand what is at stake-the future! Here is where we can be truly imaginative in our politics. The need for overturning the 17th amendment I would hope is obvious. By effectively eliminating the states as a check on the national government, there is no longer an institutional structure in government invested in limiting the size of government. I think that the movement, that is exactly what we need a movement, on the 17th amendment should come from within Congress and, hopefully, move to the states. Not to sound like president Obama but this type of move will not occur overnight. This is why, tactically, we must reinvigorate the economy. If the GOTP does have success on the economy and brings substantive change, the people will begin to trust us. But only if we educate the nation why we are doing what we are doing. So, for example the privatization of Social Security should be discussed in terms of a free people, liberty loving individuals choosing to be responsible and govern themselves and not depend on big government.
The Federalism amendment is a necessary adjunct to overturning the 17th amendment. Ever since the end of the Civil War the concept of federalism has been declining to the point where today states think of themselves as entitled stepchildren of the federal government. Madison explained federalism in Federalist 45: "The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce....The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people." In a letter to Major John Cartwright Jefferson emphasized that the states are not hierarchically secondary to the national government. Both are "coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole...The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government." In a letter to George Washington in 1791, Jefferson saw the 10th amendment as Athe foundation of the Constitution.@
In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on April 23, 2009, entitled, "The Case for a Federalism Amendment," Prof. Randy Barnett of Georgetown makes his case for this amendment. Basically, his suggestion for the amendment is a legally specific spelling out the logical implications of the 10th amendment prior to the first Progressive era. Indeed, the best possible amendment would be one that all people of goodwill would shrug their shoulders and say that this is all already in the Constitution. That is precisely the point: there is in the Constitution it has been lost and needs to be reiterated. The amendment would then serve notice the GOTP is serious about federalism. Indeed, one can see the states using the proposed amendment as a springboard to bringing cases before, eventually, the Supreme Court forcing courts to rule on another important element overturning power to the states, nullification. The federalism amendment should come from the states themselves. Article V provides that, "on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states," Congress "shall call a convention for proposing amendments." Before becoming law, any amendments produced by such a convention would then need to be ratified by three quarters of the states. I can feel the consternation in the air. However, if, as I argue, the future of liberty is at stake, we must take truly bold steps to correct the egregious mistakes of the past.
Prof. Barnett admits that this type of convention could get completely out of hand. But, Ait is precisely the fear of a runaway convention that states can exploit to bring Congress to heel.@
One problem I do have with Prof. Barnett's federalism amendment is that he proposes to overturn the 16th amendment, the income tax. While I understand that this might cut some of the national government=s power, command it is probable that in order to gain enough votes to repeal the 16th amendment, the opposition would demand, in the spirit of compromise, an alternative which would probably be revenue neutral. More importantly however, what does the 16th amendment have to do federalism?
Frank Easterbrook, in Are Constitutional Changes Necessary to Limit Government? argues that, A[B]y abolishing the apportionment requirement, the 16th Amendment gave the federal government the power to control 100% of the entire economy.... In that combination of powersCit=s right there, it=s a logical consequence of the 16th AmendmentCgives the federal government control over almost anything it chooses to control.@ But the 16th amendment does not confer a new power on the federal government. The ability to tax already existed 16th amendment removed the acquirement that taxes be apportioned. When one looks at the two amendments, which were passed at approximately the same time, one sees the wholesale removal of a crucial check on the expansion of federal government power.
And, as I noted above, we need to be very strategic in our language. The essence of the campaign should be we are returning government to we the people. Hoping that I have not lost those of you who now think I have gone into a fairytale, let me continue by saying that I can imagine the states, qua states, being against these moves. Indeed, state politicians would likely be against such a move. Federal funding to states in 2008 was approximately $450,000,000,000. By 2011 the states will undoubtedly have over one half trillion dollars to spend. This is free money for the states; citizens of the state to protect the Abenefits@ but state politicians do not bear the cost of raising taxes.
But think about exactly why politicians, from either party, would be against these moves; this is precisely what needs to be changed and if we are actually serious about change in the future, it is incumbent upon us, nay imperative, to institute real change which can only come if these two amendments are passed. Allow me to conclude by suggesting a way in which the GOTP might really change politics. The American people want change in politics. But there is an area which, much like the weather, we all talk about do-nothing: negative ads and negative campaigns. First, we know that politicians use negative campaigning because they work. However, in the spirit of Glenn Beck at the Lincoln Memorial, the GOTP must be the good guys.
A quick story about an acquaintance of mine who was running for office. He was going to be interviewed by a local DJ, not a political commentator. The DJ opened the interview with, "can you say one good thing about your opponent?" I knew this politician, he was a very good person, a very good father, a very good citizen. To my chagrin he answered, "well, I would like to but…." Immediately, and I am not proud of this, I punch my radio breaking the on-off button. This was well the knees my friend and reflected badly on him and his party. I say we can and must do better do better. Imagine if my friend had said "my opponent is a good person, he is a good father, he is a good husband, etc. Imagine a nationwide series of ads in which the GOTP candidate stands up and says "I respect my opponent but I disagree with him on these issues for these reasons. Thank you for your time." Imagine a series of ads in which the GOTP the candidates' opponent is shown or heard speaking in favor or against an issue; merely that politicians' words. Then, the GOTP candidate comes on the screen or the radio and merely says, "I disagree. Thank you for your time." This would be a stunningly new way in which to run campaigns. If we really think we are the good guys we must act like the good guys. We must be the change we want to see in the world.
(CCU Faculty) In a political race that’s been too much under the radar, CU Board of Regents member Steve Bosley is running for statewide re-election, challenged by CU law school prof, Melissa Hart. This race will shape the board that governs the University of Colorado, and the main subject of political dispute is, well, politics, and whether it has any place in higher education.
[Editor: This article first appeared in the Denver Post, Oct. 20 online edition.]
Hart seems to want it both ways: She insists that politics be kept out of education, yet she brings to the CU regents a kind of self-serving politics—she’s employed by the public institution she wants to govern—that betrays the public trust.
In a recent radio interview, Hart suggested that Bosley and other regents should focus “not on politics,” while congratulating herself for being “less tied to politics.” But to suggest that politics should or even can be removed from education is silly. The choice “we the people” make to offer public university education for our children is a profoundly political choice. It’s a choice regarding the character of our future citizens, that we want them educated, not ignorant.
Trying to take politics out of education—maybe limiting courses to science and math?—is itself a political decision to leave future citizens ignorant of their country and the principles of political self-government. Politics always informs education. The question is what kind of politics: the politics of freedom required by citizens of a limited, constitutional government? Or some other politics?
The story of two men familiar with politics and higher education might be of benefit to candidate Hart. Thomas Jefferson and his longtime friend James Madison believed that founding the University of Virginia was among the most important things either had done (it’s one of only three accomplishments Jefferson wanted inscribed on the obelisk above his grave). They both agreed that within the University, the most important part offered instruction in law and politics, subjects befitting the best citizens.
While debating which texts would constitute the norma docendi for the UV law faculty, Jefferson wanted to include the Declaration of Independence, which he identified as “the fundamental act of Union,” and The Federalist Papers as the authoritative explanation of the U.S. Constitution and “its genuine meaning.”
Madison agreed, but, he advised his old friend, “the most effectual safeguard against heretical intrusions into the school of politics will be an able and orthodox professor.” The meaning of any text can be perverted. More important are professors who are “able” and “orthodox,” who understand and are excellent teachers of the self-evident truths of the Declaration and the “genuine meaning” of the Constitution.
Fast forward to today. Recently the CU regents adopted new “guiding principles” that call for “political diversity” to be included among the typical college campus diversities of skin colors, sexual orientations, etc. But Hart dissents from the idea of political diversity at CU. Diversity is fine, apparently, so long as it’s monolithically leftist politically. But if political diversity troubles Hart’s liberal heart, what might she think of Madison’s criteria for university faculty appointments? What was orthodoxy for Madison must be heresy for Hart.
While Hart rejects the sound political education advanced by Jefferson and Madison and gently welcomed by Bosley and other CU regents, she’s not apolitical. Rather, hers is a brand of self-serving politics that no politician openly supports, at least not since the days of divine-right kings. She wants to sit in judgment of her own case: Hart wants to serve as a CU regent while employed as a CU law prof!
How might she rule on possible salary reductions or class size increases? How will she handle a conflict with the CU President, who works at the pleasure of the Board of Regents, but who is a boss in part for the faculty? How could she claim even a hint of objectivity regarding such issues?
Clearly Hart is reluctant to disturb the dominant left-wing politics at CU, yet perhaps some credit is due her. Her self-serving politics of Hartism certainly differs from the Marxism, feminism, multiculturalism, deconstructionism, and relativism that typically dominate the politics of higher education. Diversity, indeed.
(CCU Student) I would suggest that every student of Colorado Christian University should read a copy of Dr. Thomas Krannawitter’s Introduction to Citizenship for New Americans. Regardless of a student's stance on politics, Dr. Krannawitter’s book delivers a vital education on the basic facts every American should know as he calls himself a citizens. Perhaps the greatest part of being an American lies in the freedoms and rights enjoyed in this country, but greater still is, citizenship, the provision that allows the enjoyment and maintenance of American freedoms and rights.
[Editor's Note: Krannawitter is a professor of politics here at CCU. His small but potent book on citizenship is available as Centennial Institute's gift to you. Inquire at 235 Beckman Center, or write JAndrews@ccu.edu.]
In four years at Colorado Christian University, a student should not only expect to obtain a degree in a field of study, but also to encounter a challenge to think critically and gain a knowledge of how to be a citizen of their country. Why is this knowledge imperative? Simply put, to protect and perpetuate the virtue of the American experiment.
The virtue of the American system of government abides in natural law, limited government, and the continued involvement of citizenship.
Natural law, though somewhat interpretable, rests squarely as a time-honored ideal based concretely in morality and values. Nothing stronger could serve as a foundation for civilization. The foundation provided by natural law shields our country from the ignoble whims of humanity such as murder, theft, and slander.
Limited government builds upon the foundation of natural law, which itself espouses the need for government to elevate its principals. The concept of limited government recognizes the need for order within bounds and highlights the tension between anarchy and totalitarianism as it works to promote and protect a healthy functioning society while remaining a servant to society.
Involved and educated citizenship must exist to maintain limited government lest it sway towards tyranny or crumple into lawlessness. Limited government recognizes the citizens as the grantors of the authority necessary to govern. Accountability rests with citizenship. Students must read Dr. Krannawitter’s book, as they form the linchpin in the American experiment.
('76 Editor) Coloradans will begin voting by mail in mid-October, and a month from now the election will be over. In addition to candidate races for local, state, and federal offices, there is a typically crowded ballot for statutes and constitutional amendments to enacted or turned down by "we the people." The official state voter guide, or Colorado Bluebook, prepared according to law by nonpartisan legislative staff under the supervision of a state House and Senate committee, is online here. The Bluebook provides full text of each proposal and a layman's explanation of what it does, along with arguments for and against each measure. Ballotpedia.com also includes a detailed section on this year's Colorado ballot issues. Personally, I have long supported the initiative and referendum process in Colorado, regarding it as a safety valve for citizen concerns that may otherwise be suppressed by political insiders and powerful lobby groups. But I am now wondering if we have too much of this legislating by petition, and I'll say as much on television in coming weeks. (Script linked here, scroll down to No. 5.)
CCU's political science faculty, Greg Schaller and Tom Krannawitter, make the case that direct democracy undermines America's founding principles of limited government and wise deliberation. Citizens in Charge, a national advocacy group headed by Paul Jacob, makes the opposite case. What do you think... about the various Colorado ballot issues this year... and about the process itself?