Thursday, May 18, 2006

'Decline of the Republican Party' Part 2

I wouldn't say I agree with every word of Lew's, but it's the gist of what he says that's important. The Republicans have never actually in history been a "small government" party. When I think about it, why would any administration seek small government considering all their agenda is is to reduce individual freedoms for their party's gain? I'd also make the argument that the Democrats are actually better at balancing a budget in the last 25 years because of the taxes (which are not good but unavoidable since citizens no longer are in control of their own money). I can say though that any gov't (Reagan and Bush Jr.) that spends as excessively, if not more, than the Dems, and continues deep tax cuts, spells greater national debt.

Anyhow, this cat & mouse game talk of these two party's is pointless in my book. I am not voting for the Repukes on the basis that Hillary Clinton "will ruin America" with her concealed socialism agenda. That tag will just continue with the next DNP candidate, and the next, and the next...I can't wait another 50 years for "the promise" of a better tomorrow in all its lustered facade.

I recommend you read the entire link. Interesting stuff.

Lew Rockwell
1. The party began as a coalition of Americans who wanted to expand federal power. Its heritage was with the Hamiltonian Federalist Party, which more or less transformed into the big-government Whig Party. When the Whig Party became defunct, the Republican Party emerged to include centralist big-government Americans and other opponents of the Democrats without a party.

The party also absorbed many folks from the Free Soil Party, which was, itself, a loose coalition of Americans who opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories. Some were genuinely anti-slavery, and even a few abolitionists, with nowhere else to go, joined the Free Soil movement. But the Free Soilers, by and large, only opposed slavery because they found it unfair that free white laborers should have to compete with black slaves. They wanted to keep blacks out of the West. Free Soilers and Republicans who were authentic abolitionists were rare and without influence, much like the libertarians in the GOP today.

2. There were surely some early Republicans with good intentions, with a greater interest in liberty and equality for blacks than in pillaging through the federal government. However, the party as an institution was always about expanding the central state and nationalizing sectors of the economy – and such goals, however well-intentioned or falsely associated with the more noble principles of abolition and equality under the law, undoubtedly had little to do with America’s founding principles of Constitutional and decentralized, limited government.

In the late 19th century the president most sensitive to liberty was the Democrat Grover Cleveland, who, in the 1880s and 1890s, defended the gold standard, reduced tariffs, relied heavily on his veto pen, and rooted out corruption. When the Republicans took over with William McKinley in 1897, they continued their trademark trend of expanding government and using subsidies and tariffs to benefit Big Business. In 1898, they took America on its first step toward global empire – the Spanish-American War.

3. Enter Ronald Reagan – a man that personifies the deceptive fa├žades and realities of the modern Republican Party. Reagan began acquiring his undeserved good reputation as a champion of liberty in the 1950s, when General Electric hired him to tour the country and talk about free enterprise – a topic that neither Reagan, a devout New Dealer and former president of the Screen Actors Guild Union, nor General Electric, a top player in the military-industrial complex, had a true, heart-felt passion for or interest in.

As governor of California, Reagan signed into law the largest tax increase in state history as well as the most egregious modern gun control law in state history – the 1967 Mulford Act, authored by a Republican, which prohibited the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle or on a public street. The California budget grew at a much faster rate under Reagan than under either Democrat Pat Brown before him or Democrat Jerry Brown after him.

As president, Reagan increased government spending through the roof. Federal spending totaled $590 billion in fiscal year 1980; by 1988, Reagan’s last year, it rose to $1.14 trillion. Under Reagan, the national debt climbed from less than $800 billion to more than $2 trillion. Although some people like to attribute this to "defense spending," that’s largely a myth, and irrelevant to the question of sheer government size, anyway.

Reagan cut taxes on high-income brackets, but he also dramatically raised payroll taxes, causing tax revenues to go up. At any rate, his spending nearly doubled the size of government. Since all spending increases are tax increases, whether in the form of direct taxation or inflation, Reagan must be seen as a tax raiser. Unfortunately, this doesn’t register with all conservatives, who learned from Reagan the neo-Keynsian mantra that "deficits don’t matter."

Reagan also pumped up the War on Drugs. The number of drug offenders in federal prison rose from about six thousand in 1980 to more than twenty-two thousand in 1988; the percentage of inmates in federal prison for drug offenses increased from 25% to 44% during Reagan’s two terms.

In spite of his lip service to free trade, Reagan was an ardent protectionist who strengthened the fraudulent Export-Import Bank and imposed horrendous tariffs and quotas on everything from electronics to clothespins to motorcycles to sugar. Despite his getting credit for deregulation, he only continued what Carter had begun. Despite his promises to eliminate the Departments of Energy and Education as well as the Selective Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, President Reagan abolished none of these, or any other major bureaucracies, and actually inflated them, for the most part.

Reagan was also a shameless interventionist, bombing Libya, militarily assisting both Iran and its enemy Iraq, illegally supporting thugs in Latin America, and invading Grenada. Despite the Cold War mythology, the USSR fell under the weight of central planning, not because of Reagan. It is absurd to credit Reagan’s central planning as a paragon of economic liberty that defeated Communism by example, or to think his militarism kept Americans safe.

4. 2000 rolled around with George W. Bush, who had been quite Reaganesque in his big-government polices as governor of Texas, carrying the banner of the Republicans and proposing a centrist agenda of "compassionate conservatism." On the one hand, he advocated a "humbler" foreign policy, lower taxes, and a modest Social Security "privatization" program. On the other hand, he proposed expanding Medicare and greater national involvement in education.

The two parties squared off in one of the closest presidential races in history. Sick of Clinton and fearful of Gore, many libertarians supported Bush, falling for the often-asserted nonsense that the Republicans, once they controlled both the White House and Congress, would finally deliver on promises of smaller government and greater individual liberty.

Now that Bush has taken power, and the Republicans dominate Congress and the Supreme Court, we see once again what fans of smaller government can expect from the GOP: the very opposite of liberty, big government in all directions. Endless war, Medicare expansions, protectionism, enormous agricultural welfare, the Patriot Act, campaign finance censorship, education nationalization, the end of due process, and half-a-trillion dollars a year in deficit spending.

Most small-government conservatives and libertarians feel betrayed by Bush, and yet are thinking of lending him their helping hands on election day. They hope the Republican Party will return to its supposed roots in small government and liberty. They hope that Bush will improve in his second term.

No comments: