Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Radical Approach to Restoration

Folks, it's time we all realize something: government grows. That's what it does. We have this gauzed-lens view of the Founders like they were "small government" types. George Washington's first act was to create THREE new "cabinet level positions." Well, of course, there was no cabinet at the time. But did he think, "Gee, this will really increase the size and scope of government?" No, he thought, "We have problems and I need some help." Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Small Government, engaged the first American war overseas (and with darn good reason) and tasked his Secretary of the Treasury to create a massive "highways" bill (we'd call it, pork) that came in at about the size of the entire federal budget.

Now, look: I'm not bashing the Founders. I'm trying to show that even with the most cautious men, with the best of intentions, government takes on a life of its own, with its own "necessities" and things done "in the public interest." I think Madison said something to the effect that leaders can always come up with a reason to do what they want to do.

Recently with the Obama near-dictatorship, there has been growing and renewed interest in the Constitution. That's admirable, but it was the Constitution that allowed Washington to add cabinets, Jefferson to try to pass a massive spending bill (it was defeated), Andrew Jackson to issue more vetoes than all previous presidents (thereby GREATLY expanding the power of the president), and so on. The problem is not the Constitution---the problem is that government's nature is to grow, and unless actively, deliberately checked at all times, it will grow. The Founders thought that merely the presence of "checks and balances" would constrain it, but that has not proven so, unless those checks and balances are energized and activated by people whose overriding concern at all times is to restrain and reduce the power of government in people's lives.

Therefore, I suggest a radical approach to restoring the intentions of the Founders. Whoever hopes to deal with this on our side must absolutely have a blueprint and a strategy for actually reducing or curtailing government. It must be clever. For all Reagan's greatness, saying "I'll cut the Department of Energy and the Department of Education" was not subtle, and was stillborn.

Observe Obama. Notice how his radical crew already had the health care bill written before they came into office. These radicals have been planning for this moment for decades! Well, this is the same attitude conservatives must have for "our" time. It must be even more thoroughgoing and deliberate than the "Contract With America."

Say, for the sake of argument, Sarah Palin is the candidate in 2012 and wins. It's not enough that she says, "I'll veto any big spending or unconstitutional bills." At best, that is status quo, with monster government. There needs to be an activist, smart plan for a) consolidating almost all government functions into fewer agencies, then b) already having in place plans for reducing those agencies by the time the others "arrive." Thus, one by one the bureaucrats find themselves with, as the Japanese say, "window jobs" where they are dead ended and do no work.

"But LS," you say, "many of them don't work now." Well, unfortunately, wrong. They do work, and every scrap of paper they generate is another slice of our liberty that disappears. The # of pages in the federal register has exploded. So one of the first things you have to do is to STOP THEM FROM WORKING. I don't know the full strategy yet, but one idea might be an immediate freeze on all non-defense activities. Yeah, that would screw up a lot, and a lot of people would be angry, and that's why you have to have the plan in place LONG before you get elected. Like Obama and his henchmen now, they intend to ride out the town halls and tea parties and pass health non-care no matter what the people want, then check back in two years. People do forget.

Here's an even better idea: pass a law immediately upon taking control of Congress that instantly limits all congressmen and senators to . . . TWO STAFFERS! Imagine what a phenomenal impact that would have on our country! Who do you think wrote that stupid health non-care bill? It wasn't Pelosi or Reid. It was the staffers. Make the legislators answer their own damn phones and meet with their own constituents. If nothing else, they wouldn't have time to screw up our lives.

Whatever the solutions, conservatives better figure out that citing the Constitution and hoping for restraint on the part of un-elected officials is simply not an option. We need a radical approach to restoration that involves a carefully crafted pre-strategy that is aggressively followed immediately. Think of Reagan: he knew that crushing inflation would cause a temporary recession, and yet did it quickly with enough time to ride it out. By 1986, he even got a GOP Senate after the results came in. Liberty requires not JUST vigilance, but occasionally, a little action.


  1. The problem is that the left and right approach government in wholly different ways. Conservatives come to office because of the now. Liberals go to office thinking of the later, even if they don't get to it in their own terms as individuals. This mind-set takes conservatives out of long term planning by nature. Many think that the only radical cut in the size of government we will get will have to be a result of Jefferson's tree of liberty... and you now how that tree was watered, of course. Are they right? Perhaps.

  2. Good point, Publius. But I think there is also an unwillingness by CONSERVATIVES to see government as an organism that grows whether you water it or not, and that a one-time "radical cut" isn't sufficient. What is required is a totally new mind-set that sees virtually EVERY government activity, even those "for the public good" as inherently damaging, and looks for ways to actively deconstruct government at all levels 24/7.