In this video, William Voegeli discusses the fact that the federal government seems to only change in one direction – it expands.
Almost thirty years ago, President Reagan expressed the goal of limiting the growth of government, but with a Democrat Congress and what turned out to be the final phase of the Cold War, the size of the federal government and its deficits remained an intractable problem. Voters were ultimately not willing to give up government program bestowing sizable benefits to some because the cost of each program spread across all taxpayers and therefore seemed small.
One time, in the 1990s, several factors combined to make it possible to finally get out of decades of deficit spending: the end of the Cold War, the first Republican Congress in forty years, a Democrat President willing to work with the Republicans and an unforeseen economic boom turned deficits into surpluses. Economists predicted that we would have surpluses far into the future.
Of course, the future turned out to be different. The war against terrorism after 9/11 and reckless spending supported by both Republican and Democrats quickly wiped out the surpluses and returned us to fairly typical deficits. Republicans were punished by angry voters and lost Congress in 2006 and the Presidency in 2008. But Democrats, after gaining control of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008, have turned out to be more reckless than ever. The subprime mortgage crisis and the financial meltdown of the fall of 2008 gave the Obama administration the pretext to ramp up spending resulting in deficits rising from a few hundred billion to 1.3 to 1.6 trillion dollars.
Can a majority of American voters be persuaded to consistently support candidates who will cut programs that benefit them? Voegelin states that libertarians and conservatives have made the intellectual case for the benefits of limiting government for decades. Yet powerful arguments about the overall benefits of limiting government on freedom and prosperity have not been enough to change the dynamics of an ever growing state. Roughly one third of the voters have been consistently supportive of the idea of limiting government, another third is ideologically committed to expanding government and the remaining third has vacillated between these two poles.
Today, an ideologically far left administration with an agenda to interject the federal government into more and more aspects of Americans’ lives, record deficits and the threat that our children and grandchildren will be worse off than we are when they have to have to deal with the consequences of bankruptcy have created unprecedented anger among the American majority.
If we cannot turn around the growth and power of the federal government in the elections of 2010 and 2012, it may be too late by the time enough Americans finally recognize the destruction of our economy and the loss of freedom.
The first test on whether we are able to restore America’s freedom and strength will occur a little more than two months from today when we elect a new House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, governors in over thirty-five states and countless other state and local officials. The choices will not all be perfect, but the Tea Party movement has yielded a wealth of principled candidates and has frightened Republican career politicians towards principled positions.
Two factors will determine whether we succeed: higher turnout at the polls from Americans concerned about our future and principled conservative and libertarian voters resisting the temptation to vote for third party candidates who may be purer in their beliefs, but who have no chance of winning.
The high level of anger against Democrats and the Obama administration is likely to ensure high voter turnout. Still, we cannot be complacent about this. A lot can happen in the next seventy days and Democrats will try to misdirect and confuse voters.
So far the Tea Party movement has recognized that it’s power is within the Republican Party. Not as another interest group, but as the force driving the Republican in the right direction. Dick Armey recently expressed this most forcefully with the following statement: “But let us be clear about one thing: The tea party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it.”
There are still examples where a third party candidate is positioned to be the spoiler handing victory to the Democrat Left. For example, in Colorado former Congressman Tom Tancredo is running as a third party candidate for governor. There are a lot passionate supporters for Tancredo and his positions, but they should realize that a vote for Tancredo will just help the Democrat candidate. And Tom Tancredo should realize that if we wants respect from conservatives and a future political career, he should drop out of the race.
Some voters may still believe that their Democrat representative or a Democrat state official is different and is one of the most endangered species – a “moderate Democrat”. If you think this is the case for your representative, just keep in mind that his or her first vote in the current Congress was to elect Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, a radical choice that makes a mockery out of what moderates Democrats used to be. The true moderate Democrats today have already become Republicans.
So in about seventy days, American voters face a historic test: will they rise up in sufficient numbers to take control of the House and possibly the Senate and will they vote out Democrats across the board in state and local elections so that we can start the process of taking back our freedom? President Obama will still control the White House for two more years, but with a Republican Congress he can block some Republican initiatives, but he will not be able to further advance his radical expansion of government power.
Will we, for the first time, put a government in place that is ready to limit government power, respect individual liberty and reduce government spending? You get to decide on November 2, 2010.