Democrats have one political imperative: to expand the size and power of the government. That leaves anyone who thinks it should shrink three options: the Republican party, a “fringe” party, or political independence. Republican worthies mumble rhetoric of limited government and individual freedom, but their policies departed from those lodestars long ago. Jeb Bush is the perfect Republican establishment candidate: distinguished lineage, fund-raising titan, former Southern governor, pro-business, and most importantly, he supports all the Republican policies favored by the worthies. Unfortunately for them and him, his candidacy is drawing little support from actual Republican voters; his poll numbers for a candidate with his name recognition are abysmal (see “Jeb and the ‘Immortal 306,’” weeklystandard.com).
Those numbers highlight a critical issue for the Republicans: its elite is out of step on key issues with a substantial number of not just Republicans, but fringe party members and independents who might vote Republican. These differences cannot be finessed or “Big Tented” away. They are:
Immigration The Republican elite may take comfort from their big victory in 2014, but their voters were usually voting for candidates who pledged to do something about immigration. That something was not “immigration reform” that amounts to a ticket for welfare-state benefits and eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost a primary in a huge upset because of this issue. Republican voters were incensed by President Obama’s “executive order amnesty,” despising both his policy and tactics. The “do something” Republican voters had in mind was to do something about it. Republican stalwart Ann Coulter has said: “If a Republican majority in both houses of Congress can’t stop Obama from issuing illegal immigrants Social Security cards and years of back welfare payments, there is no reason to vote Republican ever again” (“GOP Double-Crossing Traitors,” anncoulter.com). She is far more in tune with the average Republican voter than immigration reform touting Bush and his big money Republican donors.
Education Education in this country is a mess and the government’s fingerprints are all over it. At the local, pre-collegiate level, public schools are Democratic satraps. The teachers’ unions are the Democratic base, and surprise, surprise, government schools teach government propaganda! Why is anyone shocked that by the time students get to college, many need remedial classes and the majority are committed statists? College is increasingly financed by the government, turning graduates into debt slaves, and now Obama wants to grant another government goody—”free” community college. Steps towards reform that actually reform education would be in the direction of markets, those clever arrangements that promote free choice, reward the most efficient producers, supply consumers with what they want, and have propelled humanity from the Dark Ages to the modern era.
If we must have government schools, an incremental move towards the diversity characteristic of markets would be reinstating local control, to promote a variety of educational approaches that competed with each other and might lead to gradual, across-the-board improvement. Government standard-setting—Common Core—is a step in the opposite direction. Now that parents have seen Common Core’s bizarre pedagogical techniques, especially for mathematics and science, and its embedded propaganda, they have ignited a grass roots revolt. Jeb Bush endorses Common Core.
Foreign policy After Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the majority of Americans of all persuasions are against big new military commitments. Here the gulf between many ordinary Republicans—and a majority of the overall electorate—and the party’s elite may be at its widest. It’s not just that foreign wars cost American lives and trillions of dollars, it’s that the US gets less than nothing for its troubles. Since 9/11, the US government has been on a vicious circle in the Middle East. Each intervention has fueled new insurgencies and chaos, justifying (in the minds of the elite) further intervention, prompting (in the minds of most everyone else) skepticism and a marked reluctance to repeat the same mistakes. The Republican elite is making sure the candidates toe the line on this one, with only Rand Paul publicly expressing skepticism (undoubtedly dooming his candidacy). Jeb Bush has sworn fealty to the interventionists, bringing in many of his brother’s and father’s foreign policy advisors (see “Jeb Bush Exposed Part 1,” SLL, 2/20/15).
The national security state The war on terrorism has been used to justify a massive expansion of the government’s surveillance capabilities. It knows what you do on your computer, who you communicate with via your phone or the Internet and what you say, where you go in your car through either the car’s GPS or those ubiquitous cameras and soon-to-be ubiquitous drones, and what you buy and from whom you buy it. Televisions now have cameras and can spy on you, and it’s only a matter of time before your phone and appliances will be able to record and relay what you say. Anything with a microchip or plugged into the Internet gives the government a way to monitor you. This makes many Americans queasy; abuses have already been disclosed. There will be no defense of the Fourth Amendment from Mr. Bush. He has said that the National Security Agency’s program that collects bulk telephone records is “hugely important,” and that “For the life of me, I don’t understand the debate” over it (see “Jeb Bush Exposed Part 2,” SLL, 2/20/15).
What’s a plutocrat to do, if the peasants won’t do as their told? Fortunately for the Republican elite, there is one candidate who presses all their hot buttons and is imminently electable; who gets the automatic votes of the bought-off 47 percent (now more like 49 or 50 percent), and who epitomizes identity politics: Hillary Clinton. If the mass of Republicans and potentially Republican-leaning voters won’t follow where the elite lead, Hillary makes a fine fallback. Better a Democrat who stands for the “right” things than a Republican who doesn’t. The 2016 election will make it obvious to all but the most obtuse: there is one political party. It will continue to expand the government and its empire while the freedom of ordinary Americans continues to shrink.
WHAT FREEDOM FELT LIKE!