An object lesson the Right needs to learn.
There is a huge difference between the Left and the Right. And I’m not talking worldview or political agenda. Yes, those are different, vastly different, but there is a much bigger difference AND it’s much more significant. It’s called incrementalism. They – the Left – understand it and live by it. We – the Right – are simply clueless. Incrementalism is a fundamental and winning philosophy of governance for the left and we don’t come to understand it and use it as well, I’m afraid all is lost.
There is a fundamental problem on the Right. We deal in real facts and we think that others do as well and when confronted by facts they will adopt our worldview because we assume that people act and react on a rational basis. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT. Wrong!
People – en-mass – function on emotion and feeling NOT logic and rationality. Now on occasion, you can sneak one in on the “logic” side but it’s not, nor has it ever been, a long term winner in the field of politics. This brings us to the specific issue on the table – I’ll revert to the general argument in a minute – and why this is so important now. Albert Hunt has an article on ObamaCare in the Withered Pale Wench today that is really a treatise on incrementalism. Now let me be clear. I think Mr. Hunt is an empty headed fool, but on this subject he happens to be right as rain.
Republicans won a smashing victory in U.S. national elections this month; no issue resonated more with the party’s base than President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.
The House Republicans’ “Pledge to America” vowed “to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs.” The party won more than five dozen seats, the most in seven decades.
There is no chance this pledge will be achieved.
While Republicans have a big majority in the House, Democratic control of the Senate and the presidential veto power make repeal or major change impossible.
There is another reason.
More than a few Republicans know that while the politics of trying to nitpick provisions and curb funding are appealing, any wholesale repeal of major provisions of the health care overhaul is likely to generate a backlash.
Ahhh! Hark! Is that the cry of the rabble I hear? Yes! Here they come to save the day! It’s the Tea Party!
And now, back to the central theme of my argument. Incrementalism and emotion vs. rationality and facts. I’m going to step away from the health care issue for a moment and discuss and even bigger offender of rational thought and one that has a much more factual basis for argument. That would be the twin towers of social security and medicare. These two programs will bring the USA to her knees and will destroy the vision the Founders had of a nation that prized individual liberty. They will also put an end to the concept of Constitutional governance. I’m not going to go through a detailed analysis of the SS/M problem, I’m simply using it as the most obvious example I can find. For starters, from an article by Robert Samuelson on the subject, here are the financials from the Obama Administration – and when you read this, keep in mind that every month for the past two years we’ve been reading about the economic numbers going into the tank “unexpectedly”. No financial projection from the Obama Administration has ever had the phrase “as expected” or “better than expected” attached to it. So, here’s what the Obama Administration “expects”:
First, from 2011 to 2020, the administration projects total federal spending of $45.8 trillion against taxes and receipts of $37.3 trillion. The $8.5 trillion deficit is almost a fifth of spending. In the last year (2020), the gap is $1 trillion, again approaching a fifth: spending is $5.7 trillion, taxes $4.7 trillion. All amounts assume a full economic recovery; all projections may be optimistic. The message: There’s a huge mismatch between Americans’ desire for low taxes and high government services.
Second, almost $20 trillion of the $45.8 trillion of spending involves three programs — Social Security, Medicare (health insurance for those 65 and over) and Medicaid (health insurance for the poor — two-thirds goes to the elderly and disabled). The message: The budget is mainly a vehicle for transferring income to retirees from workers, who pay most taxes. As more baby boomers retire in the 2020s, deficits would grow.
Third, there is no way to close the massive deficits without big cuts in existing government programs or stupendous tax increases. Suppose we decided to cover all future deficits by raising taxes. Taxes would rise in the 2020s by roughly 50 percent from the average 1970-2009 tax burden.
Now then, can we agree that SS/M are a disaster and will bankrupt the nation? Thank you. Now that we’ve agreed that the US has terminal cancer, what do you think the probability of actually addressing the issue and doing something about it is?
OK, back to my point on incrementalism. Incrementalism is how we got here. The Left passed a modest proposal to help retirees. And then added to it with series of assumptions over the years and all – repeat ALL – proved to be so wrong they could only be construed to be out-and-out lies. And has anyone in government actually mounted a real challenge to the programs or sought to rebut the lies? Ahhh, that would be no.
Every government agency starts out the same way. All of ’em. Then their scope is expanded based on bad assumptions and lies. And ergo, we have an $8.5T shortfall. Optimistically.
So, what to do. Well, the problem with Right has always been one of refusing to recognize the incremental nature of the Left. We also refuse to acknowledge that those on the Left are not our friends, nor are they friends of the American Dream. The biggest problem is that we refuse to deal with the emotional argument on the expansion of government (It’s for the children…) in even a marginally rational way. What we do, is that we win a small victory. We claim victory and leave the field. In the ensuing uprising, we are overwhelmed and the Left claims another victory. See the ’90’s and Obama. Winning a single argument (beating HillaryCare) isn’t the same as winning the war.
Folks, we can’t leave the field. We have to declare war on the Left and we have to be willing to stay on the field of battle as long as one of their ideas is breathing. The blood of Leftist ideas needs to run in the streets.
Which brings me to 2010 and the Tea Party. It has been an interesting year with some interesting developments. The lessons I’ve taken from this year, from Scott Brown through today, are these:
- When incumbents run as “The Entitled” they can be beaten.
- When incumbents ignore their opponents and expect to win because they are “entitled” to, they lose.
- When incumbents take their opponents seriously – especially in primaries – they win big.
- When challengers don’t have a plan or an organization, they lose.
- Run untested challengers who haven’t been vetted against a serious incumbent, it’s a slaughter.
Feel free to fill in your own names.
Going forward, in order to actually win and accomplish something, the Right needs to do a number of things. First, if you are going to target an incumbent, either in a primary or a general election, you’d better have a vetted candidate, backed by an organization with experience (note: it doesn’t have to be a “majority” organization within a state party but it better be credible) and you’d better have the ability to raise lots of money.
Second, chose your races. If you don’t have a credible candidate backed by a credible organization, find someplace else to spend your money. (See JD Hayworth)
Third, Mitch Daniels is right about calling a truce. I happen to be a SoCon. I also happen to understand that until we reign in government, absolutely none of the SoCon agenda is going to get addressed, let alone accomplished. When the size and scope of government is actually reduced SoCon’s will be in a position to actually accomplish something other than window dressing. Until then, we’ll have a rerun of what has been accomplished since 1973, and that would be essentially nothing. We need to take a real lesson from the Democrats on this. They have great internal battles, but only after they have accomplished big things. On the Right, we have big internal battles that keep us from accomplishing anything. But we sure as hell stand on principle.
Folks, let’s develop a team to win. It has to be built at the state/local level but it can be done reasonably quickly. Well, it can be done if the tea party rabble decides to actually get involved. There are conservatives in pretty much every state at reasonably high levels in the party organizations. They need to work together and we – the rabble – need to focus on winning the war, not the battle.