Winning the big spending, big government debate
Military strategy dictates that if you decide “where” a fight will take place, then you will be able to choose the ground that is most favorable to you. The same holds true in politics.
As debate in Washington rages over the deficit, the debt and the debt limit, Republicans in Congress need to keep in mind that the table for the 2012 election is being set – and a fight over big, expensive government offers the GOP the perfect opportunity to choose their own ground.
The 2010 midterm elections offer some instruction on this point. According to a Gallup poll, that election set a modern day record for the highest percentage of people who claimed that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting just prior to election day, (53%). Further, it represented the largest “enthusiasm” gap between self-identified Republicans vs. Democrats – with 63% of Republicans saying they were more enthusiastic, vs. 44% of Democrats.
This begs the question, what were they excited about (or not)? Of course the answer is government – the new Obama brand of bigger, more intrusive and expensive government, to be specific. Republicans couldn’t wait to kick it in the teeth, and far fewer Democrats were interested in defending the policies of the man they so enthusiastically put in office just two years earlier.
In other words, the party whose voters are more enthusiastic is likely to win, which is all the more reason to stay focused on the conservative issues that excite our base.
For their part, Democrats accuse Republicans of being the “party of no”, while themselves being the “party of no new ideas” – or at least none that have ever been proven to work. They have nothing they can point to that will inspire Americans. But then that’s one of the problems with liberalism in general: there’s nothing inspiring about it. It’s an ideology of grievance.
As for Mr. HopeNChange himself, many of his former fans have lost hope because they have seen none of the promised change, just more of the same old, big spending, big government.
But the Democrats’ political strategy will always be more of the same. Borrow more. Spend more. Hire more government employees, (read: union members). Increase government programs that subsidize bad behavior. Regulate more of the economy. Demonize conservatives for proposing real budget cuts. Scare old people and poor people.
The “why” is easy enough: because the Democrats’ political machine only survives if they succeed in all of the above.
They must borrow more so that they can spend more, as they want to increase spending faster than weary taxpayers can provide revenue to pay for. They have to spend more in order to increase the number of government workers who will join public employee unions that comprise a huge chunk of their political base of support – and to offset the decrease in private sector union membership. They have to regulate business in order to control it and make it more dependent on government (and fearful of them). They have to demonize conservatives for proposing cuts, as it would ruin their long term viability if they succeeded. They have to scare old people because they tend to be more conservative, and they vote in large numbers. And they have to demonize anyone who dares to investigate the machine, lest too many people get a good look behind the curtain.
The more dependent people and businesses are on government, the better the party of big government will do at the ballot box.
But when you know exactly what your opponent has to do in order to win, you know how to prepare. Simply put, the goal of Republicans should be to challenge every single aspect of the liberal political machinery.
Challenge big spending with common sense demands that the government not go further in debt, and that it balance its budget. Propose an across the board budget cut to offset any debt limit extension, (it’s more likely to be seen as fair and harder to demonize). Implement zero-based budgeting. Continually force votes on overturning regulations that strangle business, (things like the recent issue with Boeing comes to mind). Push to change the budget process to agency-by-agency bills, rather than one omnibus bill for almost the entire government, forcing liberals to defend more specifics – and making government “shutdowns” less of an issue.
The point is to force them out in the open and make them defend every dollar and every regulation. Put them on the wrong side of personal and economic liberty and keep them there. In an age when government consumes almost 1/4th of the entire gross domestic product, and has run up over 63 trillion in financial obligations, it’s easier to put those who want to spend more on the defensive.
Remember, Democrats win by promoting what government can do “for” you, Republicans win by promoting what government does “to” you…and what you can do without government.
If we frame the issues in terms of individuality, liberty and opportunity, we are choosing ground that we can win on. If not, then we won’t deserve to win.