NO PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP
The failure of Congress to derail Obamacare and to cut government spending is due to a lack of principled leadership. A political party without a clear vision, and the courage to achieve its objectives, is a party in disarray and decline. Republicans find themselves in that very situation. The cure is to cleave to the principles of individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited government and to make every action taken consistent with those principles.
Neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have wed themselves to principle and neither has voted consistent with principle. Their actions reveal a willingness to compromise basic defenses of liberty, free markets, and limited government to achieve momentary political gains, and that alienates the public, which rightly views such inconsistency as dishonest and destructive. Wedding themselves to principle and voting in strict accordance with it should be their constant vigil. Only then can they hope to gain the respect and confidence of the American people. Only then will Americans trust them.
Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell may not believe in their heart of hearts in America’s founding principles. I do not know, but I do know that they fail to act consistent with those principles. They are in those hypocritical ways far different from Ronald Reagan. He was, as they said then, a “true believer.” He never abandoned his principles, fought for them consistently in the court of public opinion, and rallied the American people to overcome opposition in a Democrat controlled House of Representatives. Time and again he won. He won not because he was a clever dodger but because he was transparently sincere. Americans knew where Reagan stood. They knew Ronald Reagan loved the United States.
They knew what his principles were, even if they did not agree with all of his principles, and they trusted him to act consistent with his principles. They could trust him. They believed him. That is why he was able to lead. That is why he was able to overcome Democrat opposition, and that is why he remains so beloved, even to this day, by Republicans and Democrats alike.
Why be in elected office if you are not a true believer? The only other reasons are petty and crass but those reasons predominate in politics today: personal ambition, an opportunity to turn public service into personal financial gain, or an opportunity to flee private sector employment because it requires marketable talent which the politician lacks.
What then should those who are true believers, including the Tea Party members of the House, do now? Every effort should be made to put House and Senate Republican leadership under the direction of true believers, people whose beliefs and actions mirror one another and who are sincerely committed to individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited government. They should be articulate, intelligent, witty, charming, and aggressive. Above all they should be trustworthy, meaning that their beliefs must perfectly coincide with their votes.
Next, a detailed agenda to restore American greatness should be adopted with specific action dates identified to achieve that objective. That agenda should first identify how the public can be educated to understand the elements of American greatness, to hasten recollection of those times when America was free and prosperous and to recognize how the regulatory state has denied freedom of choice necessary to innovation, has destroyed opportunity, and has rendered America far less prosperous. Indeed, we should be clear that the regulatory state is the enemy of liberty and prosperity in America and threatens to lock America into an endless cycle of decline. The inextricable place of liberty in achieving prosperity and the antagonistic role of regulation in hampering liberty and in producing mediocrity must be emphasized at every turn.
That consistent effort will animate the essential principle of liberty, inviting the public to appreciate that without greater freedom we will never achieve prosperity equivalent to that held by the nation when it was at its greatest. The consistent effort will give the public confidence, will enhance trust, and will enable Americans to believe that those in leadership can be relied upon to bring about needed reforms.
That agenda to restore American greatness must celebrate the free market and emphasize that free enterprise is the engine of human progress and is disabled by the regulatory state. The issues of environmentalism, redistribution of income and opportunity, and government planning to influence who wins and who loses in the market should be addressed head on with the reality that promises of utopia from government are not only lies because they are unattainable but are also deceptive because they mask underlying efforts to rob individual Americans of their freedom of choice, their sovereignty. The conflict should be plainly stated: America can never hope to regain its prosperity without restoring individual liberty and freedom of choice; and individual liberty and freedom of choice can only exist if the costly and burdensome federal regulatory state is dismantled. To give the economy a rebirth, to raise Americans’ standard of living rather than reduce it, requires a substantial reduction in federal regulation combined with a substantial reduction in federal taxation. In this, great confidence justifiably should be expressed because we know that free markets work, history confirms that premise over and over again, and we also know that it is the very system that made the United States an economic giant, the flight from which has rendered that giant feeble.
The agenda to restore American greatness must include a celebration of the principles of limited government prescribed by our Constitution. We should be clear, our nation has lost its way. The United States is no longer governed by a limited federal republic but by an unlimited bureaucratic oligarchy. Representative democracy accounts for less than one-tenth of the laws governing industry. Almost all laws governing industry are the product of some 250 federal regulatory agencies headed by unelected officials who issue edicts in the form of regulations that are not adopted by Congress and are rarely subject to judicial review. That bureaucratic oligarchy has robbed us of democracy and has enslaved us to a myriad of rules that create barriers to market entry, traps for the unwary, and run roughshod over individual rights.
The United States has become a European style government that has abandoned the fundamental founding principle that distinguishes us as a people, the very principle announced in the Declaration of Independence: “[T]hat all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Founded on the principle that government exists for the purpose of protecting individual rights, the United States government has abandoned that principle in favor of a new one: that government exists to address all worldly problems and to augment its power without limit, even if that means sacrificing individual rights.
To effectuate the agenda to restore American greatness, a national campaign must be waged at the grass roots level, leap frogging past the liberal press and reaching out to all Americans who yearn for a revival of the American dream. They should be convinced that this agenda is one the new leaders embrace not only from the podium but also on the floor of the House and Senate. They should be convinced that this new leadership will fight for the agenda against all comers, relentlessly, taking on the President, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at every opportunity and inviting the public to do the same. This campaign to restore America must call on all Americans to support precise measures to eliminate federal agencies, cut federal spending, cut taxes, and liberate markets from regulatory constraints. A clear vision of how each major industry sector can be liberated should be explained, so that Americans can understand how the oil and gas industry, the coal industry, the food and dietary supplement markets, the tech industry, the medical industry and the communications industry are burdened by costly federal regulations and taxes and how lifting those regulations and taxes translates into innovation, more jobs, and overall prosperity.
This campaign should bring together business leaders, consumers, and rights advocates and should include Republicans, Independents, and disaffected Democrats. It should keep in close contact with those who share the vision and should establish easy means for them to voice their support for actions called for by leaders.
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Most Americans love freedom, feel the loss of freedom from federal, state, and local regulation, and understand well the burdens government places on a struggling market. Most have no great love for political answers to problems and would, if given the chance, address their own problems with economic savvy and courage. The Republican leaders in the House and Senate are in disarray at present because they still have not come to the realization that they are too weak to defeat Democrats because the American people distrust them, as they do all politicians. To overcome that distrust new leaders must arise who are wedded to the principles of individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited government and who vote consistently with those principles. Public trust has to be earned. It is time for a new generation of leaders to earn the public trust that has been lost by the old.
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