Inconsistency is bipartisan and a product of trying to solve difficult problems without context or tainted by personal economic preferences or moral beliefs that others don’t share.
Conservatives – especially their tea partying faction – are yelling, “Hell no! We won’t grow!” in their quest for government with a microscopic “G”. Their biggest quibble with St. Ronnie of Reagan’s government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem mantra was that he didn’t lay off the entire government (except for a staggeringly expensive, ass-kicking military…and it’s associated contractors and arms makers) and outsource everything to the states, or preferably, India by way of multinational conglomerates.
I suspect they’ll be getting a rude awakening soon. They’ll find it next to impossible to fight the strong running political tide, agree on what needs to be shed, or even agree on what small government means.
For example, arch-conservative Michele Bachmann wanted to prohibit earmarks only to find that, oops, her state wouldn’t get any money either. Suddenly her perception of pork changed in the face of angry voters who saw that Michele’s financial acumen was roughly equivalent to a high school home economics course in buying canned hams at rock bottom prices.
One man’s crumbling highway is another’s canned ham. Let those drivers give up the ham. They need to be put on the fiscally conservative South Beach Minnesota Diet. Same for those homeless people too by golly. It’ll be good for their no account goldbricking asses.
Conservatives never met a regulation they liked – unless it benefits them or is written by lobbyists. And one of the biggest government expenditures of all is creating and enforcing regulations. The baggers and Republi-Goobs are of a similar mind that only the private sector is smart enough to do anything – apparently ignoring that whole financial derivatives thing. But who’s counting.
So here’s an idea.
Regulations and regulators are a huge chunk of the budget, right? The Tax and Spend It All on Me Crowd frequently reminds us, usually in high-pitched squeaky voices, that the private sector is where smart, upstanding CEOs can do anything. They even have big paychecks to prove it.
Since the Supreme Activist Court (SACOTUS) took it upon themselves to give corporations Constitutional rights far and away more important than the rights of all individual citizens combined, it makes sense that corporations would be the very picture of responsible citizens in thanks. And smart as whips too.
So, corporations are just terrific, and honest, and thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. We know this because Cryin’ John Boehner and the boys tell us so. So, how about we just trust them to do the right thing? No need to regulate when the free market unfailingly leads companies to the path of righteousness and honor.
We’d cut thousands of regulators in a jiffy. Legislators would have absolutely nothing to do except rubber stamp appropriations bills for the War du Jour. And lobbyists? Well, they’d become pro bono advisers to a micro-government that runs as smooth as BP oil rushing out of a broken wellhead. Yeah, THAT’S the ticket!
Um, only one small fly in the ointment on that one. Forget I mentioned anything.
- More politics (omnipotentpoobah.com)
- What’s Michele Bachmann up to? (salon.com)
- Michele Bachmann: Scalia Will Teach Constitution Class (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Tears of John Boehner (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)
- You: Democrats target John Boehner (guardian.co.uk)
- Big barriers to small government (orgtheory.wordpress.com)
- Most Teabaggers Don’t Really Want Small Government (redstateprogressive.com)
- An Actual Small Government Conservative (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- Tea Party Could Sink the Tax-Cut Deal in the House (thedailybeast.com)
- More on small-government Joe Miller’s personal cops handcuffing a journalist (americablog.com)
- Janine R. Wedel: Shadow Elite: The Small Government Lie – How Both Parties Stood By As Our Government Burned (huffingtonpost.com)
A funny thing is happening on the way to the ballot box. Voters of all stripes decry the excesses of big government. The reflexive complaint from both ends of the political spectrum, although voiced most loudly by conservatives and tea drinkers, is that big government is inherently bad, a foregone conclusion needing no evidence for proof. It’s a lot like religion that way. “I believe in God, so therefore there must be a God.” “I believe big government is evil, so therefore it must be true.”
It’s curious that the louder the screams about government size, the fewer practical suggestions the screamers give regarding how to make it smaller. There’s the all or nothing crowd – the government shouldn’t do anything but maintain an army. Or, the “limited” governmental types who want to lop off entire government departments, like the Department of Education, Federal Reserve, or Department of Homeland (In)Security. But, there’s precious little in the way of a platform to explain how we’ll reach this government nirvana.
Saying No is Fun
You might expect voters wouldn’t clamor for details. After all, it’s great fun to go watch Glenn Beck scream political science screeds or wave protest signs or accuse people of being anti-Christ socialists. It’s also great to campaign and hear the yelps of Grizzly Mommas in full-throated rapture about how wonderful you are. But the day in and day out grind of actually governing or even setting goals … not so much. In other words, the universal Republican “plan” for everything – “NO” – gives voters, candidates, and sitting politicians the chance to be righteous without the responsibilities of righteousness.
Come to think of it, that’s a little like some religious folks too.
There are roughly 308 million citizens in the US. That means there are at least 308 million opinions on how to reduce the government. Farmers kind of like crop subsidies, especially if their name is Farmer ConAgra. Some people are really behind “drill baby, drill”, without the inconvenient fact that without government regulation, a well might one day pop up in their backyard.
“Take that you NIMBY bastards!”
The “local levelites” don’t want an Islamic center in Manhattan, but are unwilling to accept the decisions of the local planning commission. And Reaganites complain, for example that transportation decisions be made on a state-by-state basis. However, they don’t seem to realize that building a road is building a road whether Uncle Sam funds it or your state increases taxes to offset the downsizing of Federal tax dollars. And, the private enterprisers would be the loudest to complain if RoadCo ran the highways and every country lane and freeway in their state started charging tolls.
Immutable Laws of Government
Americans need to understand a few immutable laws of government and human nature. First, nobody wants a bigger government. Second, everybody wants a smaller government so long as it gets smaller at someone else’s expense. Third, everyone wants the government to work. And fourth, those elected will become “inside” professional politicians as soon as they take their hand off the swearing-in Bible. They will be in your business for good and ill from then on as a result. This is especially true if you want the government to decide who gets married, who serves in the armed forces, who gets government assistance, and dozens of other meat and potatoes governmental decisions that must be made to support your idea of how smaller government should stay out of your life.
American individualism is a great strength. It’s the engine that drove the idea of American exceptionalism in the last century. But, when individualists forget there’s such a thing as shared goals and common needs that strength becomes a drag on the country.
Especially when you and the other 307,999,999 of us can’t agree on just what small government means.
- Big Government (socyberty.com)
- Commentary: GOP’s “small government” talk is hollow (cnn.com)
- Most Americans OK with Big Government, at least for now (usatoday.com)
- The Tea Party Movement: What Is It? (biggovernment.com)
- Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution (governmentisgood.com)