There’s no conversation if nobody speaks
And nothing gets done in the end
There’s no confrontation when fantasy makes you its friend
It’s no good you trying to sit on the fence
And hope that the trouble will pass
‘Cause sitting on fences can make you a pain in the ass
If there’s something you find to believe in
Then the message must get through
So don’t just sit in silence
When you know what to do
Turn it up
Make it louder
These lines come from a song on Alan Parsons’ obscure 1993 solo album Try Anything Once. The song, with its obvious political implications (rare for Parsons’ work), is called Turn It Up (hear it here). The advice is clear:
If you don’t like the status quo, speak up – don’t just sit on the fence.
Fits the current American political battlefield to a tee, doesn’t it?
The far left is yelling to pull the steering wheel to the left shoulder. The far right is yelling to pull the steering wheel to the right shoulder.
Knowledgeable voices inside those extremes get drowned out or branded as weak moderates. Unknowledgeable/non-caring voters in the middle just cover their ears and tune out the noise.
But lately there’s more to it. Besides the epic Right vs. Left battle that rages on (and always will), a Right vs. Right battle has flared up.
No doubt Left vs. Left disagreements occur too, but how widely can collectivists really disagree? They’re a beehive…an ant colony.
So let’s examine the Right vs. Right argument closer.
Right vs. Right – What’s the Beef?
The Old Guard Republican Establishment wants to gently persuade the fickle swing voters that it’s time for the pendulum to swing a little back to the right. They’re content to nudge the public opinion needle from 51% D to 51% R. Hold the House, gently take the Senate in 2014, gently take the White House in 2016. Tip toe through the tulips. But then what?
Take another look at this graph I built for a previous article (How to Train a Political Animal to Restrain Itself). It shows that since the end of the Eisenhower era, federal spending has increased steadily regardless of which party controls the branches of government. The rate of growth may vary, but the direction is ever upward (and not due to inflation – that’s factored out).
The Old Guard Republicans SAY they’re for limited government, but the chart doesn’t show much evidence they behave that way.
The Young Republican Turks want to sharply bend that red spending line down to 17% of GDP or lower. They want to lower tax rates and remove much of the smothering government regulation. They believe this less-intrusive government footprint would allow the economy to grow vigorously again, expanding productivity and creating lots of jobs. Even with lower tax rates, they believe MORE tax revenues would be collected, eliminating deficits and reducing the overhanging national debt. This may be true, but Progressive demagogues will have a field day in the media, scaring the hell out of swing voters. The ideas can’t work if swing voters are too scared to vote for them.
Here’s how I see it: Either the fiscal solvency of the U.S.A. is already too far gone to be rescued (80% chance), or a significant course correction happens very soon to avoid a spiral into bankruptcy (20% chance). What is my definition of a “significant course correction?” A 4-year step down in federal spending from the current 22-24% of GDP down to a permanent cap at 19% of GDP, strictly enforced by a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In fiscal severity, my approach lies between the positions of the Old Guard and the Young Turks. Both are partly right, partly wrong. A major change is needed, ASAP. But swing voters have to accept the plan, or they won’t swing the pendulum rightward to give fiscal restraint a chance. The energy being sunk into this strategic feud needs to be coalesced together – now.
Yes we need to “Turn It Up, Make It Louder.” But the music must have harmony, or it won’t be heard.
Individualism – Its Own Worst Enemy Sometimes
Ironically, building strategic consensus is one aspect of politics where our “rugged individualism” doesn’t serve Conservatives well. I believe that American Conservative individualists still outnumber American Progressive collectivists, but collectivists naturally cooperate far better than individualists. They coalesce their power efficiently. Even when the Left’s insiders disagree, their allies – the left-leaning mass media – downplay it or omit it from their newscasts entirely.
A Republican party split would be disastrous for Constitutionalism. Not only would it split the vote between the Bush-style moderates and the Reagan-style staunch conservatives, but it would re-embolden the libertarian absolutists to run more of their spoiler candidates. Such a 3-way dilution of the Right would guarantee elitist Progressive rule over America indefinitely, all the way to a utopian bankruptcy.
So c’mon, Conservatives. Let’s certainly stick to our principles and get active, but let’s not counter the Left’s 6-year overreach by planning a suicidal overreach of our own. Coalitions MUST compromise.
Old Guard Republicans, buck up!
Young Republican Turks, ease up!
What do YOU think?