The Tea Party Nation's Sellout
On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli put forth a marvelous patriotic rant for several minutes declaring that Americans should stand up and protest the Obama administration's outrageous socialist policies. And he promised to organize a Chicago Tea Party to help publicize the cause later in July.
Little did he know at the time what he had wrought. He was cheered vehemently by millions of libertarians, conservatives, and independents throughout America. By April 15th "tea parties" in more than 750 cities held demonstrations. The fervor for revitalizing Samuel Adams' 1773 Boston Tea Party rebellion against the oppressive English spread in waves across modern America. The call went out to stand against Washington's domination of our lives just as the patriots of our founding era had done. And it was met magnificently. The protests swelled into July and culminated in a massive "taxpayers march on DC" on September 12, 2009 that numbered several hundred thousand marchers.
Out of this, many of us in the libertarian and conservative movements developed high hopes that the history of Lexington and Concord could be repeated -- not violently, but intellectually and democratically. Could we not spawn a new Sons of Liberty for the modern day who would do as Sam Adams' boys had done in the beginning? The original Sons of Liberty in 1773 became the hub of a profound wheel that fanned out across the colonies with intrepid spokes of brilliance to galvanize Americans against the tyranny of King George. The combination of their provocative protests with the philosophical thought of the likes of Locke and Jefferson brought us the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, and the birth of the world's first free nation at Philadelphia's Independence Hall in 1787. Out of such kernels of intrepidity, usher forth all the giant societal changes in mankind's fortunes. When heroic men and women of integrity become acquainted with great philosophical truth, they become willing to stand against the tides of corruption and conformity inherent in all statist establishments. To such revolutionary paragons we owe much.
It was a heady time to be alive in September of 2009. The contemptible Marxist-Keynesian political control over Americans -- orchestrated by professorial cheerleaders in the universities and enabled so shamefully by a lapdog media -- would surely now be brought to account. The dreadful decadence and destruction of our country that had been slithering over us for the past 50 years would be exposed. Americans would rally to drive out the Demopublican usurpers of our rights and liberties. New leaders would be brought to the helm of the Republican Party to challenge the vice grip that the neocon pundits, the corporatists, and the elite bankers held over the party's policy directives. The vision of Jefferson would be restored to Washington. Heady times indeed.
Einstein's Definition of Insanity
But throughout 2009 even though many of us held high hopes, we remained suspicious of any movement that set out to "reform the GOP." Such reform visions had been the goals of countless organizations and prominent activists ever since the early days of Barry Goldwater in 1960. And what had they brought us? Nothing but relentless capitulation to the welfare-warfare state for 50 years.
We realized a terrible fact that the Tea Party marchers were not facing up to: Republicans have, for many decades now, approached politics like mules -- stupidly and stodgily repeating the same course that they have trekked for decades. The history of the GOP is Einstein's definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results.
From Eisenhower to Nixon to Ford to Reagan to Daddy Bush to little boy George, the GOP has lived by one rule: once in Washington, waste no time in capitulating to Democratic socialism because that is where the votes are. Always put re-election above the country, above freedom, and above honor. If the Democrats increase spending by $200 billion in any given year, then Republicans must increase it also. Of course, our fearless Republicans only push for increases of $180 billion, and in so doing they conceive of themselves as brave defenders of the pass, as modern day Rolands at Roncesvalles. How paltry these GOP mules appear to those of us who have studied history and grasp the inherent weaknesses of human nature, to those of us who are willing to view the big picture rather than merely the next election and the assumption of power.
Neocons like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey have done what we on the radical right feared. They have sucked the Tea Party into the black hole of their Demopublican monopoly. Gingrich and Armey quickly positioned their organizations to co-opt the Tea Party movement. And the Tea Party leaders, so flattered with this emergent courtship and accompanying media prominence, now conceive of themselves as "profound revolutionaries" that are going to heroically reform the GOP. This is the kiss of death for the Tea Party. Gingrich, Armey and their cohorts are the epitome of what is wrong with the conservative movement in America. They pay only lip service to freedom's ideals. When it comes time to match the rhetoric with action and adherence to principle, they cave in to the debt sirens like female groupies fallinginto the sack at a rock star's after-performance party. Yet Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation writes worshipful articles now praising the merits of neocon Newt Gingrich for President. Power rather than principle is what Phillips and the Tea Party Nation want, and they will hop onto the backs of the most disgraceful of solons to get it. This game has been played by conservatives for five decades now, and it gets us nothing but bigger and uglier government.
To paraphrase biblical wisdom, what does it benefit conservatives to win power if it must be done by joining with liberals and neocons to expand the usurpations of the state? What has beengained but a disgraceful charade? This, I submit, is the political history of the Republican Party for the past 50 years -- a disgraceful charade. Even the fabled Reagan swelled the welfare state and debt prodigiously over his eight years in office. Does Judson Phillips actually think that the likes of Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain will somehow reverse the course of this runaway socialist freight train we have created in Washington?
Stop the Disgraceful Charade
If one is brave enough to face up to this disgraceful charade on the part of the GOP, then the next step is to be brave enough to stop being a mule, to stop blindly doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Yet what do we hear from 80% of the conservatives in the Tea Party movement? "We need to concentrate," they say, "on electing to office better, more conservative Republicans who will go to Washington with a clear commitment to reduce government spending. We need to take over control of the GOP." These, of course, are the same platitudinous mouthings that conservative activists have been exhorting for 50 years. This is what I mean by being mules. A harsh word to call fellow conservatives; but unfortunately their blindness regarding the past 50 years dictates such a label.
Oh, Tea Party conservatives do have great aspirations just as those activists in the '60s, '70s, and '80s had. They envision an army of Republican Jimmy Stewarts, like his character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, marching to the Potomac and turning the tyrannical federal beast into a true limited governing body again.
What the mules are missing, however, is that once the new conservative Mr. Smiths get ensconced in the capital city, they soon get bit by the power disease and realize that it ismuch easier to win votes by playing the pork and subsidy game, that it is much easier to get big campaign donations by conveying special privileges to the corporations. They quickly succumb to the sordid favor dispensing game and join the ranks of the Demopublican big spenders. Very few, if any, Ron Pauls emerge from these "better, more conservative Republicans."
Why? Because without a third-party in the race, and most specifically in the National TV Presidential Debates, there is no counteracting force to mandate that the Republicans continue to try and distinguish themselves from the Democrats. Without the people being aware of another vision (e.g., that of honest money and equal tax rates), they will not demandthat the Republicans change their stripes. If there is no demand from the voters, then these "better, more conservative Republicans" quickly get consumed by the Washington beast of big government. That ol' devil human nature gets in the way of their original, noble aspirations. They end up choosing another term of acquiescence to statism -- with all its celebrity in Washington -- instead of fighting for true tax reform, which brings the risk of losing on Election Day and having to return to the obscurity of life in Midville.
Unless the tax system is changed to a genuine equal-rate tax that everyone has to pay (i.e., no exemptions for anyone) there is no hope to ever reduce the ruinous levels of government spending we now endure. The "infinite demand for government services" that is bankrupting us stems from our progressive income tax system that exempts 50% of the nation's voters from paying taxes. If those 50% are not dinged proportionally as everyone else is, then they can't possibly have any real desire to eliminate Washington's egregious conveyance of entitlements. They're not paying for them. This is one of the cardinal laws of economics. If government benefits are free, then demand for them will be infinite. Only by enacting a 10% equal-rate tax for everyone can this irresponsibility be ended.
Conservative freedom seekers are wasting their time with any and all political activism without this paramount tax reform. It is the all-important linchpin. And there is no chance to get such a radical tax reform measure passed unless an independent candidate makes a Ross Perot style run and gains entrance into the National TV Presidential Debates to sell 70 million Americans on such a reform's crucial necessity in stopping government growth.
Why? Because neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will ever adopt such a tax reformproposal because they both know it would spell death to their all-consuming desires to be re-elected. Only a third-party can bring such a proposal to the public in clear unadulterated form because only a third-party (if it was properly structured) would be in a position of not needing to win office immediately. What do we mean by "properly structured?" We mean that the third-party be first and foremost a "teaching party." Such a third-party would then put the necessary reform measure in front of the 70 million voters who watch the national debates because its goal would be primarily to get the ideas of "honest money and equal-tax rates" in front of the people and let election victorycome later after these two policies have won the people over. A properly structured third-party's goal would be to teach the people the truth about what is destroying our country. It would be to act as a magnet to draw the people away from the nefarious views of Republicans and Democrats.
Thus die-hard Republicans in pursuit of an army of Mr. Smiths end up fulfilling Einstein's definition of insanity because their candidates want to win office immediately and repeatedly. They've been doing this for five decades, and still they never get the message. The Washington beast destroys all Republicans who start out with budget cutting aspirations, except for those rare and noble contrarians like Ron Paul. This is why "working within the Republican Party" can never bring us a restoration of limited government. It is why the GOPwill always be a party of mules. It is what Judson Phillips and 80% of his Tea Party Nation followers are oblivious to. They will never be able to reform the mules by working within the GOP. They will succeed only in becoming like them.
Hopping into the Hot Tub
To those still unconvinced, consider the following. Why hasn't the flow of new conservatives to Washington over the past 50 years grown and helped to turn the tide? Because until there is a mandate for less government among the people, almost everyone of the newconservatives we send to Washington quickly conclude that if they are to be guaranteed re-election every two years, they must join with the Democrats to increase government spending. They end up as journalist Stanton Evans told us, "treating the sewer of Washington like a hot tub." They hop in and wallow in pork and privilege with the likes of Pelosi and Reid. Consequently for every "new conservative" we send to Congress, we lose an equally new conservative to the hot tub. The freedom movement stalls, and statism continues to grow.
Why? Because the people mandate it. The people possess infinite demand for pork and privilege because our progressive tax system exempts 50% of the nation from paying any income taxes. The "uniformity clause" for tax rates established by the Founders in the Constitution has been junked, and we now have an irresponsible electorate that gets billions of dollars worth of breaks and benefits for free. This is the nefarious lure destroying the system.
Oh, the 50% non-payers will protest that they pay their fair share because they are charged FICA taxes for social security and in many states have to pay sales taxes. But the truth is that these taxes don't even come close to paying for the massive entitlements they receive in the form of retirement benefits, Medicare benefits, food stamp benefits, welfare services, student loans, Head Start grants, earned income tax credits, unemployment insurance, subsidized housing, and all the other prodigal government programs that have inundated our Republic ever since FDR came to visit us.
Moreover the FICA taxes and sales taxes they pay don't come close to covering their share of the massive interest on the government debt, the funding for the myriad of ABC bureaucracies that breed like bacteria, and the imperialist military expenditures that most non-payers continue to vote for every decade in acquiescence to Demopublican paranoia. Our social security program is broke. Our medicare program is broke. Our state governments are broke. Our federal government is broke. Our nation is broke. The ideal of a free, self-reliantAmerica is sinking into a swamp of greed, stupidity, and the opiates of monetary inflation and "pilfer thy neighbor through the taxman." Could this travesty have something to do with the fact that 50% of the nation is granted an exemption from the responsibility of citizenship with multitudinous government functions given to them free?
Thus to continue sending conservative Republicans to Congress, without establishing a mandate to stop the growth of government, can only bring continued failure. To create such a mandate, we have to tell the people the truth about what is causing the relentless growth of government. We have to show them how progressive tax rates and fiat money inflation act as the fuel for exponential government growth. And we must do it in a sensationalized manner. We must get an independent candidate into the National TV Presidential Debates to instruct 70 million Americans in a matter of years, not decades. We must do what Steve Jobs continually encouraged his comrades at Apple to do: "Think Different!" The media and the academy will not tell the truth. The GOP will not tell the truth. Only a third-party candidate (who's not afraid of losing the election) will. My book, The Conservative Revolution, explains how to bring this about. CLICK HERE for a review.
A Corrupt and Ossified Institution
It is time to dramatically change our strategy. All conservative activist groups need to see the GOP for what it is -- a corrupt and ossified institution that no longer serves a meaningful purpose. The GOP is like the tragic protagonist in Oscar Wilde's nineteenth century novel,The Picture of Dorian Gray. Because Dorian Gray had made a Faustian bargain by selling his soul to the devil, he never ages over the years. Only his portrait becomes effete and grotesquely wrinkled, hidden away from friends in the attic. This deal with the devil enables Gray to continually live in debauchery. In like manner, the GOP sold its soul to the devils of massive debt and privilege and thus continually lives in debauchery. It conveys privileges to banks and corporations who donate money to them in return, and it creates massive debt for the free entitlements it grants to the lower 50% of income earners in return for their votes. Toimperceptive observers, the GOP, like Dorian Gray, appears to be beautiful and idealistic. But in actuality it is like Gray's hidden portrait in the attic, a withered and decrepit gargoyle of greed and blindness.
Because of the Faustian bargain they have made with the banks, corporations, and seekers of "entitlements for nothing," Republican politicians will always choose to be Demopublicans and can never become Jeffersonians. The snare of fiat money and progressive taxation defines their existence. They will always be profligate Dorian Grays irresponsibly cavorting through life, stealing from the productive and bankrupting the future. Why? Because it is the only way they can get re-elected under our distorted tax system, and re-election is what they want more than freedom, more than honor, more than justice.
How do we end the tragedy of this Faustian bargain? Only by restoring the concept of "equal rights under the law" to our tax system. In other words, by repealing progressive tax rates and enacting a "10% equal-rate tax" that requires all citizens to pay proportionally for their government services. We cannot have equal rights without equal rates. Our progressive tax rate system is the cardinal evil that Democrats and Republicans signed onto decades ago.
The Dorian Grays of the GOP cannot and will not change this. Only a third-party can. Once a third-party based on "honest money and equal tax rates" is in the mix, everything changesdramatically. There would then be a chance for reform because the people could be shown an alternative political vision that is rational. They could be shown what is causing the tyrannical expansion of government. There would then be a competitor to the Demopublican monopoly and its Faustian bargain of tax and spend in return for votes. The flow of political ideas would be opened up.
The statist establishment controls the minds of the populace through its control of the schools, and it controls how they vote by controlling the flow of political ideas through the one-party charade of Demopublicanism. Until this monopoly is broken, Republicans will forever be mules fooling themselves in the worst way with hopes of reform.
This is simple human nature. Monopolies in the corporate world, in the labor arena, and in the ideological arena are all destructive. They stifle the flow of people, money and ideas. Theyasphyxiate the country in which they are tolerated. Well, we now have a firmly entrenchedpolitical monopoly in this country that is stultifying the process, and the ossified GOP is a major part of that monopoly.
Tea Party activists are playing a fool's game if they think the likes of Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain will do anything other than what Republicans have been doing for 50 years -- cross over the aisle to hop into the hot tub of pork and privilege to insure their re-election. If we are not wise enough and strong enough to put an opposition voice (i.e., an independent party voice) into the National TV Presidential Debates to explain the requisites for saving America to the people, then we will not save America. We will live out our lives like the members of Marshal Petain's Vichy government in 1940 France -- as that of enablers of tyranny -- and the end result of our life's commitment will be the sad degradation of the American experiment.
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. His articles have appeared in publications such as The Dallas Morning News, The American Conservative, The Freeman, Liberty, and on numerous Internet sites. He is the author of a soon to be released book, The Golden Mean: The Case for Libertarian Politics and Conservative Values.