Caress the Middle, or Turn Up the Conservative Heat?

Are political lightning rods persuasive(photo credit)

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).

Federal Budget vs. Gov't Control Chart

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.

Middle Ground

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 The Progressive Road to Fiscal Oblivionlibertarian 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.

(photo credit)

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?


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control.
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9 Responses to Caress the Middle, or Turn Up the Conservative Heat?

  1. There’s wisdom in what you say, but …

    Moderation is more or less rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We’ve been veering left for so long that any correction to the right still has us headed toward the left. Compromise doesn’t fix that.

    Frankly, I’m not sure anything really fixes that, but I know that compromise doesn’t get us where we want to go. We’ve compromised for too long.

    I also don’t believe that keeping the Republican Party intact protects the Constitution. When was the last time the GOP platform didn’t violate the Constitution — maybe the year they elected Lincoln.

    The first thing to do is accept that neither of the two majors is at all familiar with the Constitution. The second thing to do is to accept that whichever one you pick is going to move us toward progressivism because the needle has been pegged to the left for a long time.

    We could change the conversation by developing a true multi-party system, but we probably won’t. The United States economy and federal government is going down. I think we passed a tipping point sometime around 2009 and we’re just living in denial right now. We could soften the blow by following the Young Turks, but we’re still headed for a fall.

    Wisdom dictates that we strengthen our own states and communities by, among other things getting rid of local/state/personal debt and bring spending under control by shifting as much as possible to the private sector. When the federal government and the larger economy collapses, we then have the hope of surviving the collapse and coming out the other end able to rebuild.

    If the world will let us ….


    • Hello again, Watcher.

      If you’re somehow saying that the sooner America crashes the better, so we get started in our mandatory incarceration in a Second Dark Ages and get it all over with quicker…well, I’m not a defeatist. If you’re right, my friend, then I’m delusional. But it’s not in me to just throw up my hands in futility. Doing so would certainly make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Continuing to fight by finding ways to work together is the only pragmatic course of action I see within our grasp.

      Have you read Mark Levin’s book “The Liberty Amendments” yet?

      – Jeff


      • Hi, Jeff!

        I have read Levin’s book. In fact, I was posting a whole series on Constitutional amendments that might help when he hit the news stands, so I included a review of his book. He presented some great ideas. I think I presented a couple he didn’t cover.

        My difficulty is that we’re not doing anything. The GOP is playing lip service to liberty and fiscal sanity. The “mainstream” GOPers are progressives themselves, so they don’t want to change the course we’re on. Boehner is proving that right now. Changing course might cost them their next election and that just wouldn’t do. I sort of held out hope for the teaparty candidates that were elected in 2010. It looked like they meant to do something, but they’ve either been coopted or corralled. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul cannot force change all by themselves and they’re the only ones still swinging. If they “caress the middle” as you say, then they are pretty much going to look and act like the “mainstream” GOPers. How does that help? The middle foolishly believes that Big Government is a good thing. They think they believe in fiscal conservatism until they learn that means THEIR favorite programs will be cut or drastically reduced and then they aren’t so enamored with fiscal conservatism.

        So, yeah, we should make noise and hope it pays to educate people, but we should also be prepared for the inevitable. I just don’t see the middle waking up and smelling the coffee until it’s too late.

        I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. If two more states go for the balanced budget amendment, an amendments’ convention can be called to address that and make recommendations for the other amendments Levin suggests. Things might turn around then. If Ohio is indeed the 33rd state, we only need one more … but those who oppose it are trying to insist it’s really the 21st, so ….

        I want to believe you’re right, but there’s not a great deal of evidence for that and time is growing shorter with every billion dollars added to the debt and every regulation added to our backs. At some point, if the middle doesn’t wake up and fight to change things, we collapse because this isn’t sustainable.



  2. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak and commented:
    I commented on Jeff’s post. I am increasingly convinced that there is nothing that is going to sustain the United States in its current form beyond a decade or two. We have just dragged the Constitution and the values that made us great so far to the left that there is no way to convince this generation that we should go another way. It’s going to take a Great Depression to real-world wake-up our nation. If — and it’s a big IF — we survive that, I don’t know that the United States will still exist as the United States. Maybe we’ll survive as a loose coalition of regional alliances, but our debt level suggests that we’ll most likely become a colony of our creditor nations. China is pretty comfortable with capitalism these days, but not so comfortable with concepts like freedom of speech and faith. I often wonder if my grandchildren will even recognize those concepts.


  3. The Ed says:

    The left holds the microphone. They hold it in K-12 education. They hold it on college campuses. They hold it in the main stream media. There are only a few places such as talk radio and some places on the blogger-sphere. We have to recapture the podium to change the course of the country.


  4. Grumpa Joe says:

    Conservatives must crush the Progressive movement before a more traditional middle of the road approach will work again.


  5. Pete says:

    Sorry but lately it looks like both parties are driving in the same direction, and that direction is taking our nation down-hill. With a small number of both republican and Democrats who try and improve our country I think we should urge them to once again try and resurrect a third party. (also for some reason I could not click the ‘like’ button, so please consider this a like!)


    • Thanks, Pete.

      In spirit, I agree with your desire for a 3rd party. In practice, though, since the left’s core coalition is so cohesive and entrenched, it would be essentially impossible to shrink it below 40%. So you’d have the Republicans, and whatever the 3rd Party is called, fighting over the other 60% and trying to unite at least 2/3 of the pool in order to get more votes than the left’s reliable 40%. It would cause many many years of Democratic cake walks in elections, and you’d really have to ask yourself “How would that left domination really ever end?” You and I can wish people would open their eyes to see the Titanic sinking fiscally, but I’m not sure enough of them ever would to build a new 40%+ coalition. I just think that’s a longer dirt road than the one we’re on.

      I’m not happy about the dilemma we’re in…I’m just trying to find the least dim light at the end of the tunnel.

      – Jeff


  6. Jack Curtis says:

    Seems to me, we have evolved a two-faced, single party form of government. Both aspects are on the left of the nominal American political spectrum. Significant policies don’t change with shifting party control. And the Constitution is an interesting historical document now replaced by the Supreme and other Federal courts.So even if it occurs, returning the GOP to power will not change the direction of the state.

    The House has to vote to fund the deficits jas as does the Senate…and it reliably does. Plus earmarks and other pork.

    I wish someone would publish a list of major donors to both parties… I expect they are now both funded by a significant number of the same people, compared to the past.


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