Archive for the ‘Non-partisan’ Category

Why I am Registered Non-Partisan   Leave a comment

I’ve said repeatedly that I am a nonpartisan, so you are unlikely to get a lot of party rhetoric from me. I don’t follow GOP insider news, but I heard this on the radio a while back and researched it, then Don over at Rio del Norte Line asked me something about the Alaska GOP. This story is indicative of why I am a nonpartisan and why I think conservatives are not very bright in continuing their attachment to the Republican Party. This scenario is being played out around the nation, wherever conservatives have tried to move the Republican Party back to the principles of the majority of GOP members. The battle is far from lost, but in Alaska, the “old guard” is winning because they have the resources.

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130409/alaska-gop-drama-results-chairwomans-ouster

The fact is that the GOP “old guard” has its own, more or less moderate progressive vision for the State of Alaska while conservatives have a fiscally responsible, smaller government vision for it. Who is in the majority? I don’t know. I’m not a GOP member, so don’t rub elbows with the precincts, but I would note that a “tea party” candidate whipped Lisa Murkowski’s hind end in the largest GOP primary turnout in state history (2010), which indicates an awful lot of people who vote in the GOP primaries favored the conservative candidate. Although the GOP leadership endorsed Joe Miller, their support was half-hearted at best and he lost in a squeaker against the better funded write-in candidate, Lisa Murkowski. I can’t say for sure there were shenanigans going on, but it felt Chicago-like.

I know nothing about Debbie Brown other than she replaced Russ Millett who was never even seated. That’s the bigger story, because Russ Millett was elected by the party at the state convention, but the “old guard” refused to acknowledge him. You will also note in this story in the Alaska Dispatch how dismissive the reporter is toward Millett and supportive of the “leadership of the GOP.

How anyone with principles can think that the Alaska GOP represents the Alaskan people’s interests is beyond me!

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130403/castoff-millette-going-after-alaska-gop-over-misappropriation-funds

For a more balanced story, I’ve included a link to a small press that’s doing great Alaska coverage – the Alaska Native News – and the story on this that ran in the Anchorage Daily News.

http://alaska-native-news.com/political_news/7687-alaska-s-republican-party-ousts-incoming-chairman-russ-millette.html

http://www.adn.com/2013/01/31/2772735/republicans-to-resume-leadership.html

I’m hoping Alaskan conservatives – many of whom are like me and are registered non-partisan/undeclared – will read this and recognize that we need to make some major changes in this state.

This is the latest news on the GOP wrangling.

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130501/who-supports-latest-alaska-republican-party-chairman

As I said, as a non-partisan, this is why I will like be voting third-party in next year’s elections. Joe Miller has filed to run against Democrat Mark Begich, but he has to get through the primary and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell has indicated that he might also be running. They’re both conservatives; Treadwell is more likable and less likely to get comfortable in DC – I know Joe personally and I’ve met Mead and liked him, so I’d probably vote for Treadwell, but I suspect neither of them will make it through the GOP primary if the current GOP leadership is in power. They have their anointed and it isn’t conservatives.

Alaska’s ruling class has always been progressive Republicans. The rest of us here are much more conservative, but because we vote Republican we’ve given these people a great deal of power that they are unwilling to give up. They resist regime change like all good ruling classes and the attempts to foment revolution through party politics are apparently failing.

Besides, I like the idea of sending an Alaska Independence Party candidate to Washington DC. In a state where 58% of registered voters are non-partisan/undeclared, third-parties have a great chance of actually winning. And, I would love to see what an AIP member would do and say in DC. Ted Cruz could use some company.

Pups at the Airport   Leave a comment

I can’t help it. This is a great idea and it uses volunteers – although I suspect the dogs work for treats. I am definitely down with pets from the canine crowd. Hopefully, it will help ease the stress from the TSA sexual harassment.

Huffington Post/Ryan Grenoble

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/18/lax-airport-therapy-dog_n_3110674.html

Some people recommend a stiff drink to combat anxiety about flying. Officials at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) think they have a better solution: friendly dogs.

Launched this week at LAX, the Pets Unstressing Passengers — or “PUP” program — aims to have tails wagging in various terminals at the airport in an effort to create a less stressful environment for travelers.

“It’s a great opportunity to spread happiness to millions of travelers from all over the world,” said Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey in a release. “Expect to see the PUP’s on a regular basis in Terminals at LAX.”

The release hastened to add that all dogs and their handlers have undergone both classroom and “in-terminal” training. The dogs, a mixture of mutts, Dobermans, Bichon frises and other breeds, will be identified by red vests that read “Pet Me!” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Similar programs have launched at the Miami International Airport and the San Jose International Airport in the last several years, undoubtedly bringing a more welcome form of “pat down” than those currently offered by the Transportation Security Administration.

LAX is part of a system of three Southern California airports – along with LA/Ontario International and Van Nuys general aviation – that are owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles that receives no funding from the City’s general fund.

 

Posted April 19, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Non-partisan

Tagged with , , ,

Alaska GOP – Fighting over the Compass   Leave a comment

I’ve said repeatedly that I am a nonpartisan, so you are unlikely to get a lot of party rhetoric from me. I don’t follow GOP insider news, but I heard this on the radio the other morning and researched it. It is indicative of why I am a nonpartisan and why I think conservatives are not very bright in continuing their attachment to the Republican Party. This scenario is being played out around the nation, wherever conservatives have tried to move the Republican Party back to the principles of the majority of GOP members. The battle is far from lost, but in Alaska, the “old guard” is winning because they have the resources.

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130409/alaska-gop-drama-results-chairwomans-ouster

The fact is that the GOP “old guard” has its own, more or less moderate progressive vision for the State of Alaska while conservatives have a fiscally responsible, smaller government vision for it. Who is in the majority? I don’t know. I’m not a GOP member, so don’t rub elbows with the precincts, but I would note that a “tea party” candidate whipped Lisa Murkowski’s hind end in the largest GOP primary turnout in state history (2010), which indicates an awful lot of people who vote in the GOP primaries favored the conservative candidate. Although the GOP leadership endorsed Joe Miller, their support was half-hearted at best and he lost in a squeaker of a write-in campaign. I can’t say for sure there were shenanigans going on, but it felt Chicago-like.

I know nothing about Debbie Brown other than she replaced Russ Millett who was never even seated. That’s the bigger story, because Russ Millett was elected by the party at the state convention, but the “old guard” refused to acknowledge him. You will also note in this story in the Alaska Dispatch how dismissive the reporter is toward Millett and supportive of the “leadership of the GOP.

How anyone with principles can think that the Alaska GOP represents the Alaskan people’s interests is beyond me!

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130403/castoff-millette-going-after-alaska-gop-over-misappropriation-funds

For a more balanced story, I’ve included a link to a small press that’s doing great Alaska coverage – the Alaska Native News – and the story on this that ran in the Anchorage Daily News.

http://alaska-native-news.com/political_news/7687-alaska-s-republican-party-ousts-incoming-chairman-russ-millette.html

http://www.adn.com/2013/01/31/2772735/republicans-to-resume-leadership.html

I’m hoping Alaskan conservatives – many of whom are like me and are registered non-partisan/undeclared – will read this and recognize that we need to make some major changes in this state because this is a clear example where the ruling class (establishment Republicans) are doing everything in their power to disenfranchise the country class (tea party, commonsense conservatives). These people are members of the same party. The ones shut out of the process were the duly elected representatives and the ones doing the shutting out insist that THEY know better than the people.  Think about it, Alaskans!

Still Partying   2 comments

There are a lot of folks who think the tea party has faded into the dust bin of historical fads, but thousands of activists plan to gather in all 50 states to mark Tax Day (April 15) and to re-ignite a movement that the media and political/ruling class wrote off as dead.

Unfairly tarnished by charges of racism, extremism and violence (especially after the Giffords shooting in January 2011) and marginalized by Republican leadership who prefer compromise over fiscal restraint, the tea party (and note, I don’t capitalize it because it’s not a political party, but a loosely defined movement) seemed to retreat. After propelling the Republican into the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, the movement failed in its political aim of defeating President Obama in 2012, largely because it could not agree on an alternative nominee to Gov. Mitt Romney, who was not acceptable to conservatives.

Tea Party versus Fox News?

The tea party did succeed, however, in slowing the rapid growth of federal spending and taxation, ensured that there will be no bailouts of profligate states and no large-scale tax increases in the short term. By shifting the national debate in favor of deficit reduction, the tea party laid the foundation for the budget sequester, which the American people have largely found tolerable, even as President Obama attempted to create a crisis around it.

The tea party was focused on out-of-control government spending and, after seeming to lose the health care debate (at least in the short term), the movement should be expected to fade into the background as most “silent majority awakened” movements do, but the tea party is gaining momentum as an opposition force through continued stress on the Constitution. The Second Amendment, the rule of law and the federalist system that the ruling-political class has severely eroded in recent decades make a good foundation for a  political stand without being so narrowly focused that the disparate goals of the country class creates division.

Conservatives have been challenged a great deal since the election and politicians once backed by the tea party who are now trying to recreate themselves as moderates may be adding to the challenges. The country needs the opposition that the tea party provides. In a two-party system where the major parties are unable to undo the worst aspects of the policies created through their collusion and the mainstream media no longer bother to hold Washington up to scrutiny, only movements like the tea party can potentially provide the spark for the country’s critically-needed renaissance.

It doesn’t escape my notice that today is Tax-Day and the first day of all the new taxes associated with ObamaCare, the issue that brought the tea party to national prominence.

Let’s not forget what we threw the party for. As the situation changes and flows, the tea party can and must grow. The country class needs to decide what our next passion will be.

America’s Ruling Elite   Leave a comment

I’m taking a break from the administrative state, but not really. I’m just shifting my focus to the divide in our country that has allowed the administrative state to grow.

America started with a simple idea – all men are created equal. No, we didn’t have that all worked out at the time of the Founding. Some people like Thomas Jefferson thought blacks ought to be included in that, but they couldn’t make it happen in the 18th century. Some people like Abigail Adams thought women should be included in that, but they couldn’t make it happen in the 18th century. It’s been a long road to where we stand today and, truth be told, we aren’t at “all” yet. If America’s ruling elite has its way, we never will be. Then as now, those who favor subjects over citizens prefer that some of us are not equal.

The administrative state is a symptom of America’s growing ruling elite. The United States was never meant to have a ruling class. If you look at the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, they were a mixed group with diverse ideas and very few of them had any intention of ruling the United States. George Washington was a perfect example. He could have become king. He didn’t want to and so retired back to Mount Vernon. Alexis d’Toqueville was impressed by our lack of ruling elite. People served for a time and then moved on, went back to farms and businesses and let others take their place. He warned that we should hang onto that.

We didn’t. Don Young, representative from Alaska, has been in Congress since 1972. I like Don personally and professionally and I’ve voted for him several times. When I say personally, I mean that. I met him a bit more personally than a meet-and-greet at the local mall; that is the nature of Alaskan politics. My votes for him were heart-felt, as are my votes against him. I have voted against him in the GOP primary the last three times because I firmly believe that he needs to retire. He’s been in Washington DC too long. It’s not that he doesn’t care about Alaskan issues or that he’s doing a bad job for us — although I might argue that his big government ways are doing a bad job for the United States that is bound to cause problems for Alaska later. It’s that we — as a state and as a nation — need a change that is more than a political slogan. I didn’t buy into Obama’s Change platform because I believe we need to break up the ruling class and water the tree of liberty with fresh new energy rather than fresh blood.

Don’s certain re-election is a symptom of something more concerning, I believe. Good candidates have run against him in the primary, but he still wins 70% or more of the vote because the electorate has become lazy and they vote for the name they know. Ted Stevens, another progressive Republican who did well by Alaska for 40 years, wasn’t beaten by a Democrat. Mark Begich won by less than 1% of the vote a week after Ted Stevens was wrongfully convicted in federal court. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think there’s something odd about that. Except for that last election, Ted Stevens never failed to get more than 60% of the statewide vote — in a state that prides itself on roguish behavior and voting for character over party.

The ruling class is something we the people have inflicted upon ourselves. How many of those in Congress have been there for decades? Why? Who are the ruling class and how did we end up giving them virtually lifetime control over the government of we the people?

Regardless of which major party you look at or favor, both are remarkably similar in their tastes, habits, opinions and sources of income. Office holders and their retinues also show a similar presumption to dominate the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class. It does not matter which party they belong to.

Yes, after the election of 2008, most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several “stimulus” bills and further expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens. You do know they were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition, right? After all, Republicans were happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government’s agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.

There has never before been so little diversity within America’s upper crust.  In times past, some Americans have been wealthier and more powerful than others, but America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all, as was “social engineering.” The schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust had not yet imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, American history, and how America should be governed. That’s changed.

Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner never held a non-government job. He’s not alone. America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and sustains us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity.  Politically, they’d like Americans to believe there is class conflict between those who have and those who don’t, but in reality, the clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. We face divisions similar to the Civil War and as Lincoln did at the time, we might observe from the Gospel of Mark that “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

How About A Little Anarchy?   1 comment

The status quo is not working and we need a new way of thinking. So, I listen to people I don’t always agree with and sometimes I hear parts I think are a good idea.

I am not an anarchist. Classically speaking, anarchy is not social breakdown. It is merely a lack of government. Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States was, practically speaking, in a state of anarchy. There were not riots in the streets or rape-gangs or any of the things we think of as anarchy. Nothing got done and that was a problem, but it wasn’t a reign of terror.

But, I’m not an anarchist. I think government is a necessary. I think it has gotten WAY too big and we need to dismantle most of the federal apparatus and let the states decide things for themselves. But, I think we need a minimal and restricted government to protect our liberties.

So, that’s my introduction to this link. This is Patriot’s Lament. They are a group of anarchists who live here in Alaska and they pay to come on the radio on Saturday mornings. I don’t necessarily agree with them on most issues. They’re utopians. They believe the world would go along just fine without any government. I think roads would quickly fall apart and Guatemala would invade in fruit baskets because we’d look mighty vulnerable. With over 200 million guns in private ownership, we are not vulnerable, but I think I’d like to avoid hand-to-hand combat on Mainstreet. We need some government. That disagreement does not keep me from thinking these guys have some good ideas.

Patriot’s Lament 

Most of the good stuff is in the radio archives.

Obama is Attractive   8 comments

Have you ever interacted with a sociopath?

I have. For 15 years, I worked in the mental health field as an administrator. I found that I enjoyed the clients. Many of them, despite their illness, are good people who just want respectful interactions with their fellow human beings. A handful of them are seriously dangerous when off their medications. A narrow slice of them are down-right creepy and dangerous even when on medications. Those are, usually, the sociopaths.

Sociopathy comes in degrees and can exist independent of true psychosis. Mix anti-social personality disorder severe with some degree of delusion and you may just have a serial killer, but not always. Psychiatry is still an emerging science. And there are all sorts of people who have some degree of anti-social personality disorder who are not psychotic. These are the people who see nothing wrong with cheating on their taxes, but might not cheat on their spouse or murder the neighbors.

Those with anti-social features make excellent politicians. If you can divorce yourself from the very real people your policies are harming, you can accomplish a lot more goals than if you truly care about people.

Another feature of anti-social personalities is that, often, a “normal” person will like the non-delusional ones – a lot. There is something extremely attractive about them – maybe just the self-confidence of absolute assurance that they are right in what they’re doing and that you will eventually come to agree and, if you don’t, it won’t ruin their life, but it might ruin yours. It makes you want to agree with them – even if you don’t.

Which brings us to Barack Obama.

I read his book “Dreams From My Father” before I ever saw him on TV. I didn’t agree with a great deal of what he wrote in the book and “The Audacity of Hope”, which I tried to read during the 2008 campaign, deepened my perspective that he would sell my children into economic slavery to achieve his goals of income redistribution and class leveling. Still, I love to hear the man’s speeches and I frequently find myself nodding over certain sound-bites. Then I read the transcript – I ALWAYS read the transcript – and I am not so enamored. I deprogram myself. Everybody loves people with anti-social traits. There’s something so very attractive about them that you will vote against your own interests to be seen walking in concert with them. And that’s the danger.

Watching him play chicken with the House Republicans would be fun if the nation’s future were not at stake. He’s had them beaten since election night, maybe election night of 2008. He’s not going to blink. He’s a master at the bluff because he truly believes that what he is doing is right and he does not care if anyone else agrees. If he loses a hand here and there, fine. He’s in it for the pot at the end of the game. And he’s winning mostly – for now. He also doesn’t care what happens after he leaves the table. That’s for whoever comes next to worry about. He’s going to do what he’s going to do and let the fallout happen on some else’s watch. Now, he may believe that there won’t be any negative fallout, but it won’t matter to him if there is.

I submit he’s going to go on winning more than he loses until the end of his second term. It’s not that he’s right. It’s not that he understands the people more than his detractors do. It’s that he’s got people convinced that they ought to follow him – even if it is over a cliff and into a swamp. They may even suspect that the journey’s going to end in a bad place, but they’re so enjoying basking in the warmth that they cannot help following him.

Republicans have the same problem today as they had at the start of Bill Clinton’s second term when a majority of the country might have had issues with Slick Willy, but they still found him entertaining and it annoyed them to hear him run down by his opponents. Conservatives wishing to stay with the Republicans (or even go the way of a conservative third party) need to recognize that we are not winning against that image. All our yelling and pointing out that the emperor has no clothes is working against us. It’s not wrong to point out the mistakes being made, but the histrionics are not serving us well.

Now is the perfect time for conservatives, especially in the GOP, to reevaluate and choose a different rhetorical direction. It’s not a change in principles that are needed, but a change in tone. I’m not talking about compromise. I am suggesting communication. We have reality on our side of the argument, but if we’re seen as suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, it won’t matter – nobody will listen to us. We should clean house, focus on restating our principles in ways that people can understand, and lay off screeching about Obama.

At the end of eight years, the country will be willing to listen to new voices offering sound principles, but only if we act like grownups in the meantime. Reasonable people will listen to reason if it appears to be coming from reasonable people.

The GOP Needs to Change Everything … Except Principles   Leave a comment

I am an avowed conservative non-partisan who is sincerely planning to vote third-party over the coming 2-4 years. I think the GOP treats conservatives like useful idiots and we need to stop letting them get away with that. So, when I hear a Republican actually taking his party to task for issues that I have with the GOP, I do a little happy dance.

I also have to say that I like Bobby Jindal. I don’t agree with him on every issue, but he has mostly conservative principles and I haven’t yet caught him lying. Similar to Sarah Palin, he’s been willing to make unpopular decisions at the state level and take the heat for it. Hopefully, he has more intestinal fortitude on the national scene than she did. (Someday, I’ll blog on that from an Alaskan perspective).

So … the GOP needs to change everything … except its principles … and including its leadership.

Jindal’s speech is long, but worth the read.

The Health of America Is Not About Government

By Gov. Bobby Jindal – January 25, 2013

Remarks by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to the Republican National Committee in Charlotte, N.C., January 24, 2013.

Thank you all for having me here tonight. And thank you Reince for the outstanding leadership you provide to the Republican Party. And I want to thank our great RNC members from Louisiana, Chairman Roger Villere, National Committeewoman Lenar Whitney, and National Committeeman Ross Little for all of their hard work.

Let me warn you in advance that I plan to talk big picture here tonight, and I plan to say some things that may challenge your assumptions.

You may not agree with all of it, but that’s ok, ours is a party that can handle real discussions.

And now, after losing two Presidential elections in a row, is certainly the time for some candid discussion.

I. America is not the federal government.

The first concept I want to talk about is simply this – America is not the federal government.

Take a minute to let that thought sink in. America is not the federal government.

In fact, America is not much about government at all. In America, government is one of those things you have to have, but you sure don’t want too much of it…kind of like your in-laws.

This is of course the polar opposite of the political debate in our country today.

At present we have one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can expand it, and one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can get it under control.

It’s a terrible debate, it’s a debate fought entirely on our opponents’ terms.

A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and shortsighted debate.

If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.

In our public discourse today, America is pretty much defined by government, by the latest moves that occur in Washington.

If you landed from outer space…and read the news…and watched TV for a week…you would have to conclude that Washington is the hub of America and that what happens in Washington is what drives and dictates the success or failure of America.

In addition to Washington, there are a bunch of outlying areas we call states, but they are pretty much just adjuncts of the federal government.

This is not the idea of America. But…this is what America will become if we do not reorient our way of thinking right away.

As government grows ever larger, it will become what America is all about…if we let it. This is our challenge; this is what we are here for.

Look at the debates that have dominated Washington in just the last few weeks:

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, and Joe Biden’s gun control task force.

These are in reality sideshows in Washington that we have allowed to take center stage in our country – and as conservatives, we are falling into the sideshow trap.

All of these sideshow debates are about government.

Government and government power are the leading lady and the leading man.

Today’s conservatism is completely wrapped up in solving the hideous mess that is the federal budget, the burgeoning deficits, the mammoth federal debt, the shortfall in our entitlement programs…even as we invent new entitlement programs.

We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping.

This is a rigged game, and it is the wrong game for us to play.

Today it’s the fiscal cliff, tomorrow it’s the fiscal apocalypse, and then it will be the fiscal Armageddon.

But I have news for you; our government already went off the fiscal cliff.

It happened years ago, and has happened every year for many years.

Today’s conservatism is in love with zeroes.

We think if we can just unite behind a proposal to cut the deficit and debt…if we can just put together a spreadsheet and a power point and a TV ad….all will be well.

This obsession with zeroes has everyone in our party focused on what? Government.

By obsessing with zeroes on the budget spreadsheet, we send a not-so-subtle signal that the focus of our country is on the phony economy of Washington – instead of the real economy out here in Charlotte, and Shreveport, and Cheyenne.

We as Republicans have to accept that government number crunching – even conservative number crunching – is not the answer to our nation’s problems.

We also must face one more cold hard fact – Washington is so dysfunctional that any budget proposal based on fiscal sanity will be deemed ‘not-serious’ by the media, it will fail in the Senate, and it won’t even make it to the President’s desk where it would be vetoed anyway.

In fact, any serious proposal to restrain government growth is immediately deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington. The Balanced Budget is deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington.

Term Limits are deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington. Capping federal growth by tying it to private sector economic growth is deemed ‘not-serious’ in Washington.

The truth is nothing serious is deemed serious in Washington.

When then-Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling, he said he was doing so because the national debt was at an outrageous 8 trillion dollars…and he clarified for effect, saying that is “trillion with a T.”

Now President Obama has our national debt over 16 trillion dollars and climbing…larger than our entire economy. And he’s not worried about it in the least.

He calls it progress. You remember his campaign slogan, he says it is “Forward.”

I have news for the President – If Washington’s debt is going forward, America’s economy is going backward.

Instead of worrying about managing government, it’s time for us to address how we can lead America… to a place where she can once again become the land of opportunity, where she can once again become a place of growth and opportunity.

We should put all of our eggs in that basket.

Yes, we certainly do need folks in Washington who will devote themselves to the task of stopping this President from taking America so far off the ledge that we cannot get back.

We must do all we can to stop what is rapidly becoming the bankrupting of our federal government.

But we as conservatives must dedicate our energies and our efforts to growing America, to growing the American economy, to showing the younger generations how America can win the future.

That path does not lie in government. If more government were the answer, our economy would be booming right now. That path has been tried.

You can’t hire enough government workers or give enough taxpayer money to your friends who own green energy companies to create prosperity. The facts are in, it’s a disaster.

Balancing our government’s books is not what matters most. Government is not the end all and be all.

The health of America is not about government at all. Balancing government’s books is a nice goal, but that is not our primary objective.

Our objective is to grow the private sector. We need to focus our efforts on ideas to grow the American economy, not the government economy.

If you take nothing else away from what I say today, please understand this – We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth. Of course we know that government is out of control. The public knows that too. And yet we just lost an election.

Again, we cannot afford to fight on our opponents’ terms. The Republican Party must become the party of growth, the party of a prosperous future that is based in our economic growth and opportunity that is based in every community in this great country and that is not based in Washington, DC.

We have fallen into a trap of believing that the world revolves around Washington, that the economy is based there. If we keep believing that, government will grow so big that it will take us all down with it.

If our end goal is to simply better manage the disaster that is the federal government, count me out, I’m not signing up for that. It’s not a goal worth attaining.

Which of you wants to sign up to help manage the slow decline of the United States of America? I sure don’t. That’s what we have Democrats for.

The Democrats promise to be the party of “more from government,” but they are actually the party of less. They are the party of economic contraction, austerity and less from the economy. The Republican Party is the party of “more,” the party that creates “more from the economy.”

As Margaret Thatcher famously observed – first you must win the argument, then you can win the elections. And by the way, it’s time for all of us to remember that we are not in this just to win elections.

We are in this to make America the greatest she can be, to make America the prosperous land of opportunity that she can be. To do this, we will certainly have to win some elections, but first we must win the argument.

If this election taught us anything – it is that we will not win elections by simply pointing out the failures of the other side. We must boldly paint the picture of what America can be, of just how incredibly bright America’s future can be.

II. How we win the argument

So…you ask…what does that future look like? How do we win this argument?

For starters, we have to recalibrate the compass of conservatism.

We do not need to change what we believe as conservatives – our principles are timeless.

But we do need to re-orient our focus to the place where conservatism thrives – in the real world beyond the Washington Beltway.

We must lay out the contrast between liberalism’s top-down government solutions and our Bottom-Up real world philosophy.

We believe in creating abundance, not redistributing scarcity.

We should let the other side try to sell Washington’s ability to help the economy, while we promote the entrepreneur, the risk-taker, the self-employed woman who is one sale away from hiring her first employee.

Let the Democrats sell the stale power of more federal programs, while we promote the rejuvenating power of new businesses.

We don’t believe old, top-down, industrial-age government becomes a good idea just because it agrees with us or because we are running it.

We must focus on the empowerment of citizens making relevant and different decisions in their communities while Democrats sell factory-style government that cranks out one dumbed-down answer for the whole country.

This means re-thinking nearly every social program in Washington. Very few of them work in my view, and frankly, the one-size fits all crowd has had its chance.

If any rational human being were to create our government anew, today, from a blank piece of paper – we would have about one fourth of the buildings we have in Washington and about half of the government workers.

We would replace most of its bureaucracy with a handful of good websites.

If we created American government today, we would not dream of taking money out of people’s pockets, sending it all the way to Washington, handing it over to politicians and bureaucrats to staple thousands of pages of artificial and political instructions to it, then wear that money out by grinding it through the engine of bureaucratic friction…and then sending what’s left of it back to the states, where it all started, in order to grow the American economy.

What we are doing now to govern ourselves is not just wrong. It is out of date and it is a failure.

We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington.

If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states.

If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all.

We believe solving problems closer to home should always be our first, not last, option.

We believe hiring others, far away, is the last and least effective way to meet our social responsibilities to others.

States should not face a moral dilemma when they try to right size their own budgets and federal strings stand in the way.

While the Democrats work on taking more from working Americans, we should stand for radically simplifying our tax code – not for the benefit of Washington, but to get the Washington out of the way.

Get rid of the loopholes paid for by lobbyists and blow up the incentives that Washington uses to coerce behavior from the top-down.

It shouldn’t be complicated for a taxpayer to fill out his taxes…or to live his life without fear of the tax consequences of his or her choices.

When it comes to education — let the Democrats extoll the virtues of our hopelessly antiquated one-size-fits-all factory schools where the child follows the dollars.

Meanwhile, let us feature the success of child-centered education solutions that meet the needs of the digital age, education where the dollars follow the child.

These are but a few examples of the way we must fight the battle of ideas, or as Thatcher said, how we must win the argument.

One thing we have to get straight — Washington has spent a generation trying to bribe our citizens and extort our states.

As Republicans, it’s time to quit arguing around the edges of that corrupt system.

III. How we win the election

Now let me shift gears and speak to changes I believe we must make if we are to win elections.

As I indicated before, I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles.

This badly disappoints many of the liberals in the national media of course. For them, real change means:

-Supporting abortion on demand without apology
-Abandoning traditional marriage between one man and one woman
-Embracing government growth as the key to American success
-Agreeing to higher taxes every year to pay for government expansion
-And endorsing the enlightened policies of European socialism

That is what real change looks like to the New York Times editorial board.

But that’s crazy talk. America already has one liberal party, she doesn’t need another one.

Government spending still does not grow our economy.

American weakness on the world stage still does not lead to peace.

Higher taxes still do not create prosperity for all. And more government still does not grow jobs.

If you believe in higher taxes, more debt, more government spending, weakness abroad, and taking guns from law-abiding citizens – you already have a party that is well represented in Washington.

No, the Republican Party does not need to change our principles…but we might need to change just about everything else we do.

Here are seven things that I believe we must change if we are to amass a following worthy of our principles, and if we are to be in position to win elections and lead America:

1. We must stop looking backward. We have to boldly show what the future can look like with the free market policies that we believe in. Many of our Governors are doing just that. Conservative ideals are aspirational, and our country is aspirational. Nostalgia about the good old days is heart-warming, but the battle of ideas must be waged in the future.

2. We must compete for every single vote. The 47 percent and the 53 percent. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent. President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we work to unite all Americans.

3. We must reject identity politics. The old notion that ours should be a colorblind society is the right one, and we should pursue that with vigor. Identity politics is corrosive to the great American melting pot and we reject it. We must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior. We must treat all people as individuals rather than as members of special interest groups. The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.

4. We must stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It’s time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. We’ve had enough of that.

5. We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. We have to stop dumbing down our ideas and stop reducing everything to mindless slogans and tag lines for 30-second ads. We must be willing to provide details in describing our views.

6. We must quit “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.

7. We must focus on real people outside of Washington, not the lobbyists and government inside Washington. We must stop competing with Democrats for the job of “Government Manager,” and lay out ideas that can unleash the dynamic abilities of the American people. We need an equal opportunity society, one in which government does not see its job as picking winners and losers. Where do you go if you want special favors? Government. Where do you go if you want a tax break? Government. Where do you go if you want a handout? Government. This must stop. Our government must pursue a level playing field. At present, government is the un-leveler of the playing field.

This is a pathway forward for the Republican Party, one that honors our principles, the American people, and also, will help us win elections.

IV. Conclusion

Let me conclude by making this observation – America is facing her greatest choice, and the hour is late.

We can either go down the Government path or the American path.

The left is trying to turn the government path into the American path.

Shame on us if we let them do that.

We believe freedom incentivizes ordinary people to do extraordinary things and that makes America an exceptional nation.

In the last few years it has become fashionable to talk about American Exceptionalism – the idea that this country is better and different than any other on the planet.

As Republicans we have criticized President Obama for not believing in American exceptionalism.

It is imperative that we not only promote America’s exceptionalism, we must also define it.

During the inauguration I heard a lot of commentators remark on the uniquely peaceful transfer of power we have in this country.

But let us not get confused….

Even as we must never take for granted the peaceful transition of power, America is not great because of the design of our government.

Our nation is not exceptional because of its commitment to free elections.

The genius of America is that our strength and power and growth come from the individual actions of our people.

Government does not order greatness. Government cannot command outcomes that exceed those in other nations.

But free individuals…taking risks…building businesses…inventing things from thin air…and passing immutable values from one generation to the next…that is the root of America’s greatness.

And that is our mission as we build a new Republican Party.

We must shift the eye line and the ambition of our conservative movement away from managing government and toward the mission of growth.

It falls to us to show the younger generations the wisdom and the great benefit of the American path.

It falls to us to unleash a new dawning of the American Dream – the dream my parents came to America for – a dream of growth, prosperity, and equal opportunity.

It is our responsibility to seize this opportunity and lead our country into a new era of possibility, progress, and prosperity.

It falls to us to take the ever-fresh principles of freedom and apply them to the future.

Make no mistake; I’m not calling for a period of introspection and navel gazing. Far from it.

I’m calling for us to get busy winning the argument…and then, after that…winning the next election.

Thank you, and may God richly bless you.

GOP Declares War on … Republicans?   3 comments

I give credit where credit is due. This is based on an analytical article by Scott Rasmassen from two weeks ago. As a non-partisan, I have no allegiance to a political party and not much surprises me coming from the GOP anymore. You know, since they tried to convince conservatives that Mitt Romney was one of us, they lack a certain credibility in my view.

 

While Washington media and pundits hailed the “fiscal cliff” deal as a significant bipartisan accomplishment, voters around the country didn’t much agree. According to Rasmussen polls, seven out of 10 Democrats approved of the deal while seven out of 10 Republicans disapproved. I’d say that nine of ten non-partisan conservatives disapproved too.

Coming on the heels of this agreement, Politico reported another area of bipartisan agreement. While Washington Democrats have always viewed GOP voters as a problem, Washington Republicans “… in many a post-election soul-searching session” have come to agree. The article said that, in light of the party’s election failures of 2012, establishment Republicans (the elites of the party) have concluded that they have a “primary problem.”

Viewed from the ivory towers of the DC power structure, the problem for the GOP is that Republican voters think it’s okay to replace incumbent senators and congressmen who do not represent the views of their constituents. In 2012, Republican voters in Indiana dumped longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary battle. In 2010, Alaskan Republican voters dumped Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a primary battle (although she came back as a write-in candidate to win a 32% plurality, which was just enough to secure her Senate seat from her Republican challenger, Joe Miller). The Indiana battle infuriated establishment Republicans because they liked how Lugar worked and the replacement candidate was flawed and allowed Democrats to win what should have been a safe Republican seat. In Alaska, establishment Republicans also liked Murkowski as opposed to her more conservative GOP opponent, but there was no risk of the Democrat winning the election (which makes one wonder about conspiracies in the halls of power).

Politico reports that the Washington GOP team is gearing up a new effort to protect incumbents and limit the ability of Republican voters to successfully challenge establishment candidates. There’s logic in that move for those whose sole aim is to win a majority in Congress rather than change the course of government policy. Seen from a non-partisan perspective, however, it looks like the professional politicians (the political class as some have called it) are saying that the only way to win is to pick candidates who closely resemble themselves. So why should conservatives, even Republican conservatives, bother to vote if they won’t be allowed to select candidates who represent their values? This may explain why more than two-thirds of Republican voters believe GOP officials in Washington have lost touch with the party’s base and it may also explain the significant drop in GOP participating in this election, despite party registrations making it the largest party in the nation.

It may explain why party elites believe that Mitt Romney was just too conservative for American voters while most conservative voters thought Mitt Romney was a progressive RINO to the point that many of them stayed home on November 6, 2012. This is evidence of the divide between the leadership of the Republican Party and the voters the leaders would like to call their base; a gulf that widens with every election cycle. This cycle some voters stayed home rather than vote for the party anointed; in 2016, they may start voting Libertarian or Constitution Party as a viable option to select a candidate who will represent them.

The GOP establishment has a choice to make. They can either act like grown-up leaders of a national political party in a representative democratic republic or they can protect their own self-interest like any good oligarchy.

An oligarchy protects its self-interest and stays in power no matter who it has to sell out. After decades of pandering to conservative voters to keep us as their base, the GOP establishment has now decided it must, at least in the short-term, pander to other groups to try to bring them into the big tent. With all due respect, you are never going to please conservatives by spending a lot of money on unpopular programs like welfare and auto company bailouts. We want smaller government that spends less and is paying down the debt. You might win the mushy middle, but what good does that do you if you lose the 38% of the electorate that self-describe as conservative?  And recognize that the 30.3% of voters who are registered unaffiliated include voters like me who are CONSERVATIVES to the right of the GOP base but willing to vote with you-all if you give us at least some of what we want.

If the GOP elite want to act like a national party in a representative democratic republic, they need to understand their constituents. Mature party leaders would spend significant amounts of time listening to Republican voters rather than isolating themselves further from them. They’d ask the tough questions about why we prefer “tea party” candidates over their establishment anointed candidates. They would seriously ponder why just half of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of House Speaker John Boehner, who is the current face of the Republican leadership. They would analyze why only 37 percent of Republicans believe the economy is mediocre – not good, but merely fair.  And, they’d take responsibility like grown-ups and acknowledge that government spending in the US has gone up every year since 1954 regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats were in the majority. Then, after some real soul searching, these party elitist would-be leaders would chart a realistic course to address those concerns. That new “contract with America” would include some bitter medicine for the political elite of the GOP, such as giving up corporate welfare programs that benefit their friends and allies. Then they would take the bold step of sharing this plan of correction with the voters and helping Republican voters identify primary candidates who challenge the establishment who could also be effective on the campaign trail without sounding like Democrats.

My prediction is that the GOP elite will continue to protect the insiders from the voters and keep their perks rather than represent their constituency. Expect more “centrist” candidates who will promise greater spending and more programs that appeal to the optimistically misinformed. Don’t be surprised if your state GOP announces a move to Republican caucus primaries that favor insiders away from primary elections that favor the general electorate. This confirmation of the GOP oligarchy should be a signal for GOP conservatives (and anyone else who thinks our elected officials should represent us rather than themselves) to leave the Grand Old Party in droves and seek third-party representation that more closely resembles our values.

Gridlock Is Good   1 comment

Back when Ross Perot ran for president, a friend new to Alaska expressed her concern that this man was getting involved in politics. “We should leave that to the politicians,” she said. “They know what they’re doing.” The younger adults of our church, all gathered in someone’s kitchen, all stared at her like she’d grown two heads. That was soooo not an Alaskan way to think of things. Apparently she didn’t realize that voting was established to give people a say in politics.

So, these days, a politicalyl naïve position is that gridlock is bad. Seriously? Apparently. The idea is that we send politicians to Congress to get things done. Compromise. If you’re the minority, just go along with the majority so that the legislation gets passed. We want progress. Of course, if you’re a voter on the minority side, you might object if your representative ignores the reason you voted for him was to represent your values, but then he compromises and moves things further from your values.

So, if you’re opposed to a legislation like, for example, the Affordable Care Act, you’ll take gridlock over it being rushed through both houses of Congress without review. Of course, when we as a nation give both houses of Congress and the presidency to one party, gridlock isn’t a problem.

What many people don’t understand is that the United States Constitution was written to create gridlock. The Framers planned it that way. They didn’t trust government. They thought government was inherently tyrannical. They wanted to keep it small and controlled by the people.

The design of the constitution was to pit faction against faction to gum up the works until there was broad consensus. If they never reached that point – all the better because that wasn’t a law the people wanted. Bills would start in the House where everyone has to stand for election every two years. So they’re going to be careful not to irritate the folks back home. Then things pass through the Senate, where they stand for election every six years and can get away with voting against the people (at the time, they were appointed by the legislature of their states and often voted accordingly. This acted as a brake on the people’s passions.  Then there’s the president who can veto any legislation. Beyond that, there’s the Supreme Court that can declare laws unconstitutional.

The framers were all about making legislation hard. In periods of gridlock, smaller legislation gets bottled up while bigger legislation gets through – at least in the past. Tax reform in the 1980s, welfare reform in the 1990s happened during times of divided leadership, but they were large and rather consensus based.

So why are we concerned with gridlock in the 21st century? Is it worse than it was in the past?

Not necessarily, but I think TV plays a huge role in convincing the public that gridlock is bad. The more strident the political opinion, the more likely the quote or sound bite are to be printed, broadcast or communicated over the Web. The loudest shouting often reaches the most ears. Keep complaining that the “other side” is creating gridlock in an environment where people expect action, and it may work to get you reelected.

But, let’s ask ourselves something honestly. Are we really helped when Congress acts in concert without gridlock? Think about the mass of legislation that swept through both houses of Congress during the first two years of the Obama administration. Many of us were very unhappy with that avalanche because we didn’t agree with much of it. At the mid-term election in 2010, the House saw the greatest turnover from one party to another since 1950, indicating that the people instinctively embrace gridlock. We like divided government if the alternative is masses of legislation we don’t approve.

Do laws make our lives better? I will submit that we’d be better off if Congress spent the next year reviewing all the old legislation and regulations and dumping anything that is too complicated, too heavy-handed, outmoded, etc. We’d be better off with FEWER laws rather than more.

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