Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What if Conservatives Had Control?

Today, the big national political news is the development that the Minnesota Senate Race is finally resolved. It's official now -- Liberal Democrat Al Franken is now going to be the junior United States Senator from Minnesota -- winning the battle in the Minnesota Supreme Court over Norm Coleman. Though it is unquestionable that the election was stolen, the reality is now that it hands the Democrats a virtual 60-seat majority, when you consider that both of the body's independents -- Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders (who is an avowed socialist, unlike his colleagues, who are closet socialiasts) -- both caucus with the Democrats.

What this means is that aside from a narrow 5-4 center-right majority on the Supreme Court (highlighted by the 5-4 majority in the New Haven firefighters case on Monday), there is absolutely no check on the liberal power in Washington. Obama was the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, and is now President. Biden was one of the more liberal members of the Senate, and is now Vice President. Nancy Pelosi is a San Francisco liberal and is Speaker and all but about 30 members of the Democratic Caucus come from the liberal wing of the party Harry Reid, aside from a couple of Nevada-specific issues, is a liberal and is Majority Leader of the Senate. Out of the 60 Senators that are Democrats, the vast majority are from the liberal wing of the party. Only a few -- Lieberman, Nelson of Nebraska, Landrieu, Pryor, Dorgan, Conrad, Bayh, and Lincoln -- could be considered moderate Democrats in any sense of the word, and most of them vote quite liberally on most issues.

Last week, a poll from Gallup indicated that only 20% of the nation considered themselves liberal. 40% were conservative, 35% moderate, and the rest undecided. So, we essentially have a situation where elected officials who come from the 20% liberal faction of the country have been given absolute power. Aside from that small check (when Kennedy votes "right") on the Supreme Court, there is absolutely nothing to slow liberal policies down aside from the possibility of outrage of the American public generating enough political fear among members of Congress that it causes them to lessen the effect of some of what they're trying to impelement.

Absolute-power scenarios rarely come in American politics. In the 1990's, under Clinton, the Republicans had control of Congress and slowed down much of what he wanted. Even in the 1993-94 period when he had a Democratic Congress, the majority in the Senate was not as large as they have now, and there were a lot more conservative Democrats then -- Richard Shelby, of Alabama, for instance -- now a conservative Republican -- was actually a Democrat at that time. In the early part of this decade, when Republicans had control, they didn't have a large enough margin in the Senate to stop filibusters, and the moderates had enough seats in the Senate that conservatives actually only had about 45-49 seats, not enough to pass things, let alone stop Democrat stalling tactics.

As a result of this rare power, liberals are trying to push through a number of far-left initiatives while they can. Cap and Tax and Government Health Care, which could ONLY be enacted under this current liberal control, are the two biggest examples that could represent a fundamental change in how this government does business -- simply becuase they would be so hard to undo. Other items -- such as undoing the Defense of Marriage Act, abortion-on-demand, etc -- are coming down the pike as well. Not to mention liberal judges, uncountable "special czars", a liberal foreign policy, and other things that are the result of Obama's direction.

All this led this blog to think what if we were operating in an alternative political universe that was exactly the opposite of what we had now? What if the conservative Senator was elected President, and conservatives controlled the Senate with 60 seats, and just 3-4 moderate Republicans? What policies would be implemented? What would be the long term effect on the country?

Imagine this -- imagine if Congressman Paul Ryan (albeit a Congressman at the moment, not a Senator), who many see as a rising star, became President? What if the Arlen Specters and Charlie Crists of the world were unseated by the Pat Toomeys and and Marco Rubios of the world? what if Steve King took the place of Tom Harkin, and Michele Bachmann took the place of Al Franken? What then?

Here are a few thoughts:

- The United States would continue the policies of George W. Bush overseas. We'd resume calling the war the "War on Terror", and we'd take the battle directly to the terrorists. We'd stand behind freedom fighters in Iran and stop upholding dictators in Honduras. We'd do more than send a ship chasing around the North Korean vessel, and threathen North Korea with annihliation if they dared attack Hawaii or South Korea. We'd win the war in Iraq and Afgahnistan, and actually increase spending on the military. We'd stop the closing process at Gitmo and call back the terrorists from Palau. We'd resume real military tribunals and stop the notion of terrorists having hearings in U.S. courts.

- When Souter, Ginsburg, and Stevens moved on, we'd appoint people like Janice Rogers Brown, Diane Sykes and Edith Jones to the United States Supreme Court. We'd then have a court which would uphold the rights of the President to fight foreign wars, including the terrorists. Roe V. Wade would be overturned, ending the notion that the right to kill a baby is protected in the Constitution. McCain-Feingold would be ruled unconstitutional, and freedom of speech would return. The Second Amendment would be upheld, not only in DC but nationwide. The Tenth Amendment would be upheld and power would be returned to the states. Eminent Domain would again be illegal under the Constitution.

- Rather than adopting Government Health Care, we'd be on the road towards a true free market in health care, where consumers had control rather than insurance companies, places of employment, or the government. Choice would expand, competitiveness would increase, and costs would drop. The quality of care would increase. Individuals would have control over their own health care, and the only government involvement would be basic safeguards such as portability, preexisting condition coverage, and basic emergency room care.

- Rather than adopting the Cap and Tax program, we'd have a real energy policy which pursued a multi-pronged strategy of dealing with our energy needs. While wind and solar would be welcomed, we'd actually drill for oil whereever it could be found, including offshore and on the north slope of Alaska. We'd pursue reasonable environmentally "green" friendly ideals without adopting policies that relied on junk science. We'd recognize that temperatures are actually dropping, not increasing, and stop the arrogant belief that man actually can have the kind of impact on the environment that liberals think it can have -- either positively or negatively. We'd end the trend towards government telling people how to live and what to buy and how much energy to consume -- but rather, we'd promote nuclear energy, clean coal technology, and other altnerative energy sources instead. As a result, gas prices would plummet back well under $2, home energy costs would drop, the price of an airline ticket would drop, and therefore, humans would travel more, spend more money, and the economy would get a boost.

- Rather than a massive expansion of government, we'd see budget reform implemented. Zero-based budgeting would be adopted, where every program, each year, started with 0 dollars and had to justify every dime it would receive from the government. Over time, the budget deficit would go away and we'd begin to pay off our debt. The effect of this would be to create more money for government to return tax dollars to the people and perform tasks that government was created to do -- the military, highways, etc.

- Massive government bailouts would cease. Banks, car companies, and any other big business would be allowed to fail. The President would no longer meddle in the affairs of private business. American capitalism and opportunism would then take hold, and over time, within a few years, the voids created by companies folding would be met by new companies with better products and services.

- Entitlements would be reformed or reduced. While present-day seniors would be protected, Social Security would be reformed long term so younger people could opt out of the system and instead, keep their own money to build their own retirement account or, do things like, buy a house or pay off debt. The result would be the payroll tax -- a regressive tax that hurts low income people as well as small business owners, particularly the self employed -- would be gradually phased out, meaning that people making about $30,000 or less -- and couples making about $50,000 or less, would only pay a small income tax and therefore be able to save and invest and protect their families and businesses into the future.

- The tax code would be replaced by a simple tax such as the Fair Tax or a Flat Tax, which would be capped constitutionally. The only time we'd increase taxes is in the case of a war. This would put accountants out of business, but reduce costs dramatically for businesses, individuals, and promote the free market economy.

- Regulations would be reduced or eliminated except where to promote safet, protect consumers and investors, and where it was necessary to encourage competition. Rather than overregulation, fraud would be discouraged by harsh penalties and protection for whistleblowers.

- A Constitutional Amendment would be passed that would outlaw gay marriage, or at the very least, prevent the Full Faith and Credit Clause from applying to gay marriage.

- Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning would not only be defunded, it would be banned period.

- Abortion would either be returned to the states, or, perhaps, a Human Life Amendment would be given to the states, recognnizing unborn children as having equal protection under federal law.

- Education policy would be returned to the states, and free market economics and competition would be promoted where possible. Vouchers and other forms of school choice would be encouraged and promoted -- not just in DC but elsewhere, implemented by states. Rather than huge federal mandates, the only federal involvement would be student loans in certain cases, or other policies which would encourage more choice in education. The focus would be on the education of children rather than the promotion of unions and a narrow agenda.

- Speaking of unions, card check would be a thing of the past and unions would be limited in their power, returning to their intended state of simply protecting the worker. People would be free to work and union membership would be deemphasized.

- Government involvement in business would be limited. Rather than being a stifling effect through taxation, regulation, and such, government would only serve as a help to promote enterpreneuers through small business loans and enterprise zones to encourage development. Rather than bulldozing towns such as Obama wants to do in Flint, Michigan, we'd pursue policies which reduced the tax burden to zero to give the American Spirit a chance to work in areas that people previously thought were hopeless.

- Churches would have their freedom of speech restored, and be free to participate in political efforts, as the tax penalties for churches speaking about candidates would be taken away.

- We'd have a national discussion about faith and family, and restoring basic moral values and absolutes, rather than the continued progression towards moral relativism, where family means anything and faith means nothing. People would be encouraged to pray in school, pray at the workplace, and talk about their faith openly. God and Jesus would be welcomed, not shunned, while other faiths would still be respected in the tradition of America.

This is a long list but is a broad one. The list would be longer if conservatives were elected nationwide at the state and local level as well. But, that's another post.

For conservatives currently fighting the good fight on blogs, in campaigns, and in non profit organiztaions and tea parties, this is the kind of nation we are fighting for. While this may seem far away right now, and indeed it is, the fact is that conservatives out number liberals 2-1 in this country, and if approached with reason, facts, and kindness, many of the moderates will side with conservatives.

The problem is, we've never had a large enough collection of leaders who not only preach this message, but act on it. Everytime we've had power -- we've largely blown it. When we've had it and used it well -- such as with Reagan and tax cuts and fighting Communism, or Bush with the terrorists and promoting freedom -- the country embraces conservatives. It is when we fall for the lie that liberalism is the way to go or that compromising principles is the same as governing that we fail.

The good news is that in difficulty comes opportunity. There are leaders on the horizon that are well poised to be the generals in a new conservative army. We have Fox News. On the radio, we have Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Gleen Beck, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Fred Thompson, and others. In Kansas, we have people like Sam Brownback, Todd Tiahrt, Jerry Moran, Tim Huelskamp, Mary Pilcher Cook, Jeff Colyer, Anthony Brown, Kris Kobach, Lance Kinzer, Ty Masterson, Kasha Kelley, and others. In other states, we have people like Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, John Thune, and others. We have candidates on the horizon as well, such as Michael Williams and Eliazabeth Ames Jones in Texas; Pat Toomey, in Pennsylvania; Marco Rubio in Florida.

Of course, there are many questions still be to be answered. Will these conservative candidates and public figures be unfraid to not only run on conservative ideas, but actually act on them, and attempt to convince voters that these policies are right? Rather than "voting for their district", will conservative elected officials in tough districts actually vote their conscience and then convince their electorate why they are right? Will supposedly national conservative leaders (like John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell) endorse principled conservatives like Marco Rubio rather than backing perceived "popular" people like liberal Charlie Crist? Will these leaders actually recruit conservative candidates and promote a conservative platform, so the term "Republican" actually means something besides a mere party label? Will conservative candidates have the courage to run, and create more boats in the rising tide of American conservatism? Will conservative activists have the courage to say no to liberal tactics, and get online on places like Facebook and Twitter, and fight the liberal lies? Will the Tea Party particpants actually get involved with and donate to conservative campaigns and run for office themselves?

All of these questions -- and more -- remain to be answered. The conservative movement depends on it. The ability of conservatives to achieve governing numbers like liberals have now depends on it. The future of Kansas depends on it.

Indeed, the nation's future depends on it.