Tea Party types are in danger of making a big mistake. Their whole approach to politics and government is based on a fallacy: That the key to economic growth is cutting spending.
Similar mistakes were made by the Ross Perot movement of the early 1990s. Ross Perot was an anti-ideological candidate “on principle”. He stood for no ideas, and instead of ideas he spoke often about simply “getting under the hood and fixing what’s wrong” with the economic car.
The Tea Party has no such leader, which in a sense shields them from
such errors. But a message is just as subject to error as a messenger. The clear message heard from Tea Party members of the Republican Party — along with their reluctant leaders, such as House Speaker John Boehner — is that cutting spending is the first, last and only priority.
Cutting government spending is not the first priority — nor should it be.
Don’t get me wrong. Cutting government spending is a huge priority. The consequences of allowing our national debt to grow by the minute, in billions upon billions of dollars, is too mind-boggling for anyone to contemplate. Liberals have simply checked out on the issue. They don’t care. They believe all will be well, so long as liberals are in charge and control the economy. This is about as reassuring as a blind person who knows and cares nothing about flying a jet — indeed, who thinks he can command control of the jet with his mere feelings alone — taking over the cockpit on a transcontinental flight, replacing the sighted and trained pilots. You should be just as frightened for our economic well-being and overall way of life with liberals and socialists in charge, which is what we’re facing, both now and for the foreseeable future.
Yet no matter how crucial balancing the budget and erasing the national debt is, there is one thing far more important. And it’s the thing — the only thing — that will ever make balancing the budget possible. It’s called: Individual rights.
Individual rights mean exactly what the term implies: The right of the individual to be free from all forms of coercion. Freedom from coercion not only implies freedom to choose your own career, your own sexual partners, and to read the books or websites of your choosing. It also implies, just as much and for exactly the same reasons, to operate your business — or be a consumer — in a marketplace that is totally left alone by the government. Yes, government is needed to uphold legally binding contracts. And yes, government should exist to prosecute objectively proven fraud. But that’s it!
The Tea Party will never balance the budget, nor even make a dent in our multi-trillion dollar deficit, by ignoring, glossing over or minimizing any of what I just wrote. If they’re not prepared to take a stand like the one I just did, then they’re never going to get anywhere. It’s not enough to talk of “free markets” while still supporting the same old policies of tax, redistribute and regulate. You have to be against all these things in principle — if you’re even to make a dent in them.
America doesn’t need a party that taxes, redistributes and regulates less than the other party. If that were the case, the Republicans of today would be the Democrats of ten years ago. Who needs that? Bush, a ‘conservative’ Republican, taxed, regulated and spent like the Democrats of the 1960s and 1970s. What did that get us? A new Democratic Party that taxes, regulates and spends like no government in the history of mankind. What America needs is a government that taxes, regulates and spends about as much as ‘ Thomas Jefferson. Or George Washington. Or maybe Calvin Coolidge.
I don’t mean to be too hard on the Tea Party. It’s early in the game, and they don’t have control over either the Senate or the White House. But it’s evening in America. These inexperienced Tea Party freshman chose poorly by selecting an Old School Speaker of the House who says there will be no government shutdowns on his watch — and in the process assuring the Democrats victory in all budget negotiations to come.
The couple of billion here or there the House has so far cut is little more — who knows, maybe even less — than moderate Democrats would have achieved by pressuring their liberal counterparts.
The Tea Party is supposed to stand for something radically different that will result in drastically reduced budget deficits and budget spending. You can’t get something different — budgetarily — unless you stand for something different ideologically.