Ask an average Jane or Joe on the street which party is in favor of limiting government and most with a basic understanding of party politics will point to the Republicans. Shrinking government has been a mantra of the GOP since FDR’s New Deal, but in recent decades it’s been nothing more than that: a mantra.
In reality, the GOP has embraced big government at progressively stronger degrees since Barry Goldwater lost his election. They had Ronald Reagan do what he could to slow the growth, but the federal government grew even under his watch. It wasn’t all his fault; fighting the Establishment has always been a challenge for small-government Republicans, even the Gipper.
Today, we’re seeing the culmination of the GOP’s hidden contempt for limiting government manifest in its most blatant form: inaction. Despite control of most states, Congress, and the White House, they’re tiptoeing the line between their mantra and their true feelings. This is most obviously seen in the debacle they’re trying to call an “Obamacare repeal.”
For seven years, they’ve railed against the notion of government-run health insurance. They’ve campaigned on the idea that if they had the opportunity, they would roll back the damaging policies of Obamacare. Now that they have the power, they’re impotent. Why? Because they don’t really want government to get out of health insurance. It’s too lucrative. It gives them too much power over wealth distribution. It enables them to do things they couldn’t do if the free market economy took the reins in the health care industry once again.
This is why they were able to pass a clean repeal in 2015. They knew it would get vetoed. Now that they have a President who allegedly wouldn’t veto a clean repeal, it’s only spoken of by actual Federalist-minded conservatives. The rest sit back and make excuses for why they won’t pass the bill they passed two years ago. These excuses are hollow, but more importantly they’re often flat-out lies.
The Republican Party is not a party that embraces limiting government. They are the party that will accept slightly less government than the Democrats. With their opponents now pushing further to the left, it should surprise nobody that the GOP is lurching to the left along with them. Why? Because they can. Because conservatives and Federalists feel they have no better option than to accept the lesser of two evils. This more than anything else is why the Federalist Party must rise. If the GOP will only pretend to want to limit government, a party that will truly act on the promise to defend the Constitution and reduce the influence of DC over states and individuals must become viable.
There are three areas that Federalists must attack in order to succeed: Congress, the Presidency, and the electorate itself. Let’s look at why all three need an infusion of Federalist-thinking for the betterment of the nation.
A Congress that won’t relinquish influence
The concept of “enumerated powers” has been lost on today’s variation of Congress. This isn’t new. It’s been growing since FDR opened the floodgates.
Getting people who are willing to relinquish influence and the benefits of wielding it is why the Federalist Party must always take the high road when selecting candidates and representatives. This means finding people who aren’t life-long politicians, who find no allure in favors or kickbacks, and who are essential incorruptible. We’re not so naive to believe anyone is perfect, but we can as a group watch carefully and hold our representatives accountable. We can also put in the right measures to monitor potential avenues where corruption can sneak in.
Congress is unwilling to give up an ounce of power once it has hold of it. We don’t believe every GOP Congressman and Senator has always been corrupted by the benefits of state-run health insurance, but now that they’re in the driver’s seat many of them have been convinced of the benefits. Why give up control over something so lucrative?
Unfortunately, their attachment to power is hurting America and her citizens. We need consumers to drive the health care markets which means that any form of mandate cannot be allowed. Once insurance companies know they’re offering commodities rather than mandated services, the consumer-driven market can drive down costs and improve quality. That’s how it works in other industries. The health insurance industry is no different.
These concepts aren’t lost on Congress, but embracing them requires a willingness to relinquish influence. Most will not. Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and others are willing to fight to get the national government out of health care which is why they’re Federalists even if they still retain the (R) next to their names on the ballot. Someday soon, this will change.
A President who’s concerned about himself
Politico, which I admittedly rarely read because of its left-leaning nature, put out a surprisingly strong piece about the GOP’s failings. They start off the article, “GOP despairs at inability to deliver,” with a very telling statement:
The Republican Party is more powerful than it’s been in more than a decade — and yet it has never seemed so weak.
What they missed in the article is that one of the biggest reasons for the GOP’s weakness is in the mentality of the President himself. It’s not that some of his policies are liberal because some of his other policies are conservative. It’s not that he’s too new or inexperienced. It isn’t even that he lacks the intelligence. The main reason the President is damaging the GOP is because he’s more interested in protecting and promoting himself than in leading the nation.
We’ve seen this narcissism in the White House before. In fact, the most narcissistic President in the modern era just left the Oval Office. With Trump, it’s slightly different. His narcissism and desire to protect himself are accentuated by his most unfortunate character flaw. When he feels threatened, he isn’t the fighter that he and his most vociferous supporters want to believe he is. Instead, he uses the weakest defense mechanism available to him: the victim card. Everyone’s unfair to him. Everyone treats him badly. He’s just a poor, defenseless President and the mean [fill in the blank] are being mean little meanies to him.
Yes, he’s that juvenile.
It’s unlikely the Federalist Party will be able to mount the support or fundraising necessary to put up a serious contender by 2020, but we’re certainly going to try. Our desire to never run in an election unless we have a chance of winning it will prevent us from going down the road of futility that the Libertarian, Constitution, and other third parties travel every four years. With that said, we will do what we can as long as we remain realistic.
An electorate that clings to slogans
I wish I could find the article with the exact poll numbers, but I’ll have to present some striking data from memory. Two years ago, over 70% of Republicans wanted free trade over fair trade. Around September or October of last year, the number was down to under 40%. Why? Because the electorate bought into a slogan.
Never in history has there been such easy access to real information. The Internet has empowered the people to be informed if they choose to be. Unfortunately, the masses are either clinging to “fake news” or ignoring news altogether.
It’s imperative that the electorate changes how it receives and perceives information in the coming years. It’s inexcusable that over 40% of GOP voters prior to voting for Trump believed that he was born into poverty, that he’s a self-made success.
We need to be the most educated electorate in the world, not one that falls for false slogans like “drain the swamp” or “yes we can.” We need an electorate who realizes that smaller government yields far superior results than constant government overreach.
We need the electorate to learn.
The tenets of small-government federalism can and should ring true for a majority of Americans. We’ve seen the results the Democrats delivered and we’re seeing similar results from big-government Republicans. This needs to change quickly. Federalism is the answer.