Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

April 6, 2009

Action item for libertarians and small-government conservatives

by Stephen Gordon

20080925_wallst_protest_33For years, believers in small government have been fuming at egregious Republican spending. All of a sudden, more mainstream Republicans are livid about bailouts. Even elected Republicans who supported bailouts are suddenly jumping on the anti-bailout bandwagon because they’ve been popped upside the head by their own supporters. Even Republican governors accepting bailout money are at increased political risk. If we want legislators and other political leaders to respond to the small-government message we wish to promote, it’s necessary to kick them where it counts. What better way than to hurt them with their own fundraising, activist and voting bases?

Here’s the mission for the small-government crew: Every time a Republican politician promotes or supports a plan which expands government spending, it’s up to us to call them on it with terminology which will hurt their political career.

As an obvious example, if a Republican presidential and vice presidential candidate team up to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we need to call them out on it. It this case, it probably cost McCain and Palin the election.

Again, on the obvious side, Republicans should be aware of whether their congressman voted to bail out auto manufacturers or not.

Regular old pork counts, too. If a Republican wants to spend a couple of million dollars on fish, we need to call him out on it. “Senator Shelby bails out out Catfish Genome Project” would be a good one. Or course, such fishy-smelling pork isn’t limited to Alabama senators. Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe just love bailing out the Lobster Institute.

When a Republican governor wishes to increase taxes, let’s make sure folks know that Governor Riley wanted to bail out the Alabama Education Association or that Governor Huckabee taxes the elderly at the old folks’ home to bail out failed government programs.

Senator Hatch not only supports slavery, but he wants to bail out organizations which can’t obtain enough “volunteers.”

Of course, if it’s an omnibus spending bill, one omnibus target is lobbyists. For example, Congressman Smith and Jones vote “yes” on Obama budget bill to bail out DC lobbyists.

If it’s legislation aimed at lowering the amount of smokers in the country, it’s now a bail out for people too stupid (myself included) to quit.  The same general logic could be applied to about any nanny-state legislation. Even anti-Second Amendment legislation could be considered a bailout to the mortuary industry.

As bailouts are viewed very negatively by most Republicans I know, we need to change the rhetoric in a way that is meaningful to them.  I’ll predict that it will be tough for a Republican constantly tagged with the word “bailout” to win a primary election for the next couple of years, at least.

Pretty much every spending bill coming out of Washington contains the transfer of money from the producer of the money to someone who didn’t earn it.  The formula is simple:

(Insert politician name) (votes, supports, promotes, as appropriate) the bailout of  (beneficiary of government largesse).

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  • Norm

    The free market is all about choice. What we need is more choice in our elections. Currently when you vote you are only allowed one choice. That perpetuates the spoiler effect and throws away a lot of data on what the public wants. As a result it discounts anyone that is not a career politician.

    Only if we eliminate single choice balloting will we open the political marketplace to more than the big two.

    Because of the possibility ballot manipulation (adding votes to a already voted ballot) straight more than one is out. That’s why [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting]IRV[/url] is a better choice than what we have now.

    All this other stuff is just munching at the edges. Until this systemic problem is fixed were doomed I say. Doomed!

  • Norm

    The free market is all about choice. What we need is more choice in our elections. Currently when you vote you are only allowed one choice. That perpetuates the spoiler effect and throws away a lot of data on what the public wants. As a result it discounts anyone that is not a career politician.

    Only if we eliminate single choice balloting will we open the political marketplace to more than the big two.

    Because of the possibility ballot manipulation (adding votes to a already voted ballot) straight more than one is out. That’s why IRV is a better choice than what we have now.

    All this other stuff is just munching at the edges. Until this systemic problem is fixed were doomed I say. Doomed!

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