First of all, we want to thank Ruth Fennell for her great blog post about her reflections on the Tea Party vs. the Republican Party, as well as everyone else for all the thoughtful comments that ensued.
Although Publius MMX is associated with a group called "Recovering Federalist," (recoveringfederalist.com) that has much broader political interests, completely consistent with the Tea Party generally, as part of that group this element of Publius MMX was personally involved in at least six different political races in three states, from the local (county) level, up to state legislative and governors' races.
After all those experiences, as well as all the other intimate experiences Publius MMX has had with the polticial system over the course of the last 30+ years, when it is all said and done, we're still not convinced that reformation can come through the Republican Party. Borrowing in part segments from our recent books, Enough!, and Prosperity!, in the Federalist No. 86 series, we'll explain why.
The Two-Party “Situation”
One of the biggest political hurdles for Americans today is the fact that a majority of us simply have no effective voice or representation in government. We can call our government a democracy, representative democracy, constitutional republic, or whatever we want, but that doesn’t change reality. Political policy in this country—particularly at the national level but also at the state and local levels—is no longer directed by we the people, the electorate. Our elected leaders no longer listen to us or pay much, if any, attention to what we say—even if we claim major party affiliation and ideology. Our governments are no longer accountable to the people. In American politics today policy is almost completely dictated by the two major political parties and their internal agendas. These agendas are not directed by the people or even by a majority of party members but by power-party elites, big business, and bureaucrats. When did we go from being a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” to a government “of the party, by the party, for the party”?
A growing number of Americans now identify themselves as Independents who do not identify or affiliate with either of the two major political parties, which means that party politicians do not even pretend to represent them and their views. Regardless of any purported differences in their agendas, the two major political parties have an absolute stranglehold on American politics and policy. Together they act as the single biggest obstacle to any meaningful foundational reform or change in this country.
Whatever the two major political parties may have stood for historically is essentially irrelevant today. What do they stand for now? Does either of the parties really stand for limited government, increased liberty, or even a dedication to upholding the Constitution? Does either of the parties really stand for protection of fundamental inalienable, individual rights? According to one observer, “The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass in your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it!” Another says, “The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt too.” As our friend Worth says, “Arguing about Republicans versus Democrats is the same as arguing about Coke versus Pepsi. Sure, they have their subtle taste differences, but at the end of the day, they are both just sugar-poison colas!”
Similar to ill-mannered teenagers, both sides of our current two-party system spend the vast majority of their time bickering, squawking, criticizing, and pointing fingers at the other side. They spend more time and effort fighting than trying to accomplish anything productive. More loyal to party association than anything else, including principle, even the best elected leaders seem to be so hamstrung by partisan politics that they are largely ineffective. Those who aren’t completely brainwashed are kicked to the curb, isolated, and marginalized, leaving few who are willing to buck their party to be a legitimate voice of reason.
The vast majority of our elected leaders seem to be more concerned about helping satiate their party’s thirst for power than they are about anything else. As a well-known world statesman once said, “Few men change their party for the sake of their principles; many change their principles for the sake of their party.” We saw this in the last presidential election. With few exceptions, even those who had previously developed their own, individual brand quickly fell in line and kowtowed to the party platform in order to have a shot at getting elected—or even just nominated for the election.
Even if we could determine the true, core ideology of the two existing power parties—a virtual impossibility—it all gets lost in the squall. The old saying about lawyers is true: “A town that can’t support one lawyer can always support two.” Why? Because with two lawyers around to bicker and fight, they can always stir things up enough that they will both have plenty of business. As a general rule, the same is true of the two major political power parties in this country. They take a stand against the politics of the other mostly to justify their own existence. Any actual ideology gets lost in all the smoke and dust they create, and most of the show is largely just a circus act to distract and entertain the American people while the ship of state cruises deftly through the fog. Who’s to say most of it is not just a big show? Those who have seen it close up know that for the most part it is.
The Tail Is Wagging the Dog
In a country as big and diverse as the United States, it is absurd to think that two major political parties represent the views of 90 percent of all Americans. In fact, according to recent polls, as many as 60 percent of Americans may have independent leanings. What this means is only 40 percent actually identify strongly with the two major parties. In other words, probably no more than 25 percent of the American people actually relate to either one of the major governing parties. But those parties, together, control this country politically. They are the epitome of the tail wagging the dog. For many people, choosing between the two major parties is the same as choosing between a rattlesnake and a cobra. As many as 60 percent of the people vote for the “lesser of two evils” and have virtually no effective voice in the current political system.
Hindsight Is 20/20
Hindsight has proven 20/20 with respect to our major political parties and the concerns of our Founding Fathers. Political parties did not exist in 1789. Although there were various factions of political thought at the time the Constitution was written, organized parties had not yet taken the political stage. Even the original Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate was not driven by political parties, and many of the Founding Fathers were very concerned about the formation of such. One of the most revered of the Founding Fathers, George Washington, said this in his farewell address:
“[Political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
We the People Have Been Displaced
The two major parties now occupy the political position that we the people and the states—the effectual parents and grandparents, the intended leaders of our governments—were originally intended to occupy. Today our beloved grandchild (the federal government) has grown to be a belligerent and disrespectful man-child because we have let him. He has kicked us to the curb and has replaced us with a whole new family: the major political parties—a gang of thugs equivalent to the mafia. The unruly grandchild is no longer accountable to his parents and, ultimately, his grandparents—we the people. Instead of respecting us, he abuses us, takes over the house, and runs up the credit cards, all while coercing us into cleaning up his mess. And when a rival gang or the bill collector comes to kick in the door, guess who’s going to get caught in the crossfire? We are!
The Bottom Line Regarding the Two Major Parties
In short, the two major power parties have failed this country. They have failed the American people. They have put us and kept us on an indisputable collision course with national financial disaster, and we’re quickly approaching the rocks that will sink our ship. Nevertheless, both power parties shy away from any real change or improvement, instead putting more Band-Aids on symptoms, applying more cosmetics to the equation, and pushing our problems forward for another generation to solve. The bottom line is that these two parties have been responsible for getting us into the spot we’re in, and there is no credible reason to believe they will get us out.
It is time for us—we the people—to stand up and shout, “Enough!” We need to find and support real leaders who are willing to stand up to the parties. We need to insist upon principled elected officials who stand above the fray with integrity and who espouse solid principles above power politics and party conformity. In today’s political landscape, such individuals are rare exceptions to the rule. Regrettably, they do not represent the general political populace. So while our goal is to champion such leaders, it is not to defend or muster further support for either of the two major political parties.
Given the profound lack of allegiance to the people they are meant to serve, it is time for a vote of no confidence for both parties in the current two-party system as well as a veto of the pack mentality that controls our corrupt political system. It is time we the people take back this country and restore a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
What the Government Spending Numbers Show
Just one example to illustrate the problem:
“Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade. Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation. . . . The Federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year. U.S. government workers, who enjoy the greatest job security of any Americans, now earn twice as much in pay and benefits as the average American.”
And the thing we need to remember about all these government jobs is that aside from paychecks, they produce no tangible, marketable products; they produce nothing of value! While such jobs may produce a paycheck and other plush benefits, which may be “assets” to the people who receive them, there is a corresponding liability for everyone else who have to pay the bill, without any corresponding production or generation of marketable goods or services that can contribute positively to the American GDP. In other words, at this point and increasingly, as a nation, we are burning equity much faster than we are adding value to produce and build it, with no corresponding production, return, or even reasonable hope of corresponding return.
And though many like to point the finger exclusively at the current administration and the current party in power when it comes to government spending, let us not forget that most of the fat years for the federal workforce came while Washington was being run by so-called “conservatives,” while big-government Republicans controlled Congress and the White House.
Though it is true that we have experienced a real spike in government spending over the course of the past year or two, the reality is, for at least the past ten years, government spending has been completely out of control, regardless of which party has been in office.
Neither Party has been Immune from the Progressive Agenda
In a nutshell, both parties have been completely overcome by the Progressive Agenda. The primary objective of the Progressive agenda is to consolidate and centralize power. Ultimately the Progressive agenda advocates and strives for consolidation and centralization of all power. This agenda has no limitations, geographic or otherwise. And contrary to popular misconception, neither of the two major political parties has been immune to this agenda. In fact, both parties have fully embraced and been full participants in this agenda.
In Part 2, we'll talk about some things we can do about it.