May 27, 2017

It’s Time to Repeal and Replace the Republican Party

Gop slash 2President Trump attempted Friday to put a smiley face on the defeat of the American Health Care Act (ACHA), known to its opponents as “Obamacare Light.” From his perspective, the failure to secure enough Republican votes to pass the AHCA will lead to a “better bill” in the long run, because that future bill will have bipartisan support. The president did not elaborate on how the bill he envisions would be better or what about this bill, which he virtually threatened members of his own party to vote against, he didn’t like.

Opponents of the AHCA opposed it because it was too much like The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) itself. Trump’s comments beg the question for anyone hoping for less government in health care, rather than more: How exactly will participation by the Democratic Party make the next bill better?

It’s fair to say Trump is far from a typical Republican, especially on health care. He’s supported single payer government health insurance in the past, even as recently as his 2016 campaign. But what about the rest of the GOP? If the House of Representatives is any indication, merely tweaking and renaming Obamacare was a viable solution to what they have denounced for seven years as the first step down the slippery slope to socialism.

This is by no means an isolated incident in the GOP’s history. Despite running on reducing the size and influence of the federal government, Republican presidents and Congresses have consistently presided over more significant expansions than the Democrats. A look at historical data on federal outlays reveals that federal spending increases far more when a Republican is in the White House than under a Democrat, regardless of which party controls Congress.

Beginning with Nixon, federal spending has virtually doubled during the administrations of all three two-term Republican presidents. Even Eisenhower increased it fifty percent, despite two year-over-year cuts in 1954 and 1955, respectively, equaling the percentage increase under LBJ’s “Great Society” (although the latter was accomplished in one term). Spending increased far less under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama than under any post-war Republican president who served two terms. It seems unlikely that trend will change under President Trump, who has proposed $60 billion in increases to military and Homeland Security spending.

Republican rhetoric also typically includes “slashing” regulations on economic activity, but the reality rarely bears any resemblance to the rhetoric. Like many of his Republican predecessors, Eisenhower created an entire new department, Health, Education and Welfare, which paved the way for LBJ’s medical entitlements. Nixon created the EPA, which alone is responsible for some of the most stifling regulation on business. Reagan is widely credited for massive deregulation, but most of the meaningful deregulation was passed while Carter was president. George W. Bush’s only two meaningful economic policies were the economically destructive Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the TARP bailout.

Over the entire sixty-four years since 1953, voters truly interested in reducing the size and influence of the federal government have decried what have recently come to be called, “RINOs,” (Republicans-in-Name-Only). This is a term popularized during the Tea Party era to describe Republican politicians who run on shrinking the federal government, but who govern more like liberal Democrats once in office. If only a real Republican could be elected, say the grass roots, then the federal government would finally be brought back within its constitutional limits.

But when have these “real Republicans” ever existed? Once upon a time? If one goes back to its founding in 1854, the Republican Party was the big government party. By 1860, the platform included all the familiar big government planks from its predecessors, the Whigs and the Federalists. And spend big they did, particularly on railroads and other infrastructure, in addition to raising protectionist tariffs.

It wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson and the new Democratic Party leapfrogged the Republicans in terms of big government that Republicans even campaigned on shrinking the federal government, which wasn’t exactly a radical idea following the spending and regulation ramp-up during the largest war in human history to that point. Evidently, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge are the only “real Republicans” to have ever occupied the White House. And let’s not forget that both merely returned policy to that of their 19th century Republican predecessors. Harding and Coolidge praised Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies and governed accordingly.

Considering the present Republican administration, there has never been a better time for those truly interested in smaller government to confront reality: the ninety percent of Republican Congressman who would have voted for the AHCA are the real Republicans. They represent what the Republican Party has been about for the entire 163 years of its existence: big government conservatism.

It’s time to repeal the GOP and replace it with a party truly committed to less government, free markets and a peaceful foreign policy. While the numbers associated with third parties are not encouraging, one cannot ignore the vast potential represented by that half of the electorate who don’t vote at all. Together with the large number of Republican and Democratic voters who “hold their noses” and vote for the lesser of two evils, a new party formed from the Libertarian, Constitutional and Reform Parties, marketed to disaffected non-voters, could represent a viable alternative.

At this point, what could those seeking smaller, less intrusive government possibly have to lose?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Rand Paul’s Campaign Proved Libertarianism and Conservatism Are Antithetical to Each Other

1024px-Rand_Paul_by_Gage_Skidmore_7Google Rand Paul today and you’ll find stories about him suspending his presidential campaign under “Breaking News.” In one way it is; in another it isn’t. It’s really an old story, but those who don’t know history have been doomed (again) to repeat it.

Since William F. Buckley started National Review in the 1950s, libertarianism has been viewed as a subset of conservatism. Reagan affirmed this view in the 1970s, before rising to the presidency selling that same theory.

But what caused Reagan to fail to shrink the federal government (it doubled in size during his presidency) is the same problem that doomed Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. Libertarianism and conservatism are antithetical philosophies and any attempt to combine them will fail.

It is important to understand the philosophical differences here, because they do indeed dictate political positions today. I’ve written an entire book about this, but the crucial difference between libertarians and conservatives is this: true conservatives don’t believe man keeps his natural rights when he enters society. Understood properly, they don’t even believe they exist in nature at all.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

It’s not affordable and Obama doesn’t care

Obama_desk_s640x427TAMPA, January 3, 2014 – Two days ago, Americans rang in the first New Year in its history in which they were required to buy a private company’s product, regardless of their wishes. Predictably, the bloom was already off the rose, even for supporters of this debacle.

The reality that the Affordable Care Act will make insurance premiums go up and eliminate existing health plans whether members liked them or not had already set in. As for those 45 million uninsured we heard so much about four years ago, 44 million of them presumably remain uninsured under the ACA. That the website can’t handle the traffic is likely providing cover for millions of Americans who just aren’t interested in complying.

The lion’s share of blame has been focused on President Obama, but that is really counterproductive. Despite his name being forever attached to “Obamacare,” Obama really had little to do with creating it. He didn’t write the bill. He probably hasn’t even read it.

President Obama’s role in Obamacare was to use the “bully pulpit” of the Oval Office to pitch a tired, old and previously rejected idea that suddenly had new life because of a financial crisis that was largely blamed on the Republican Party, fairly or not.

So where did it come from? The snap answer would be Democrats, who passed the bill without a single Republican vote. That’s good politics for the Republicans, but only because Americans have an extremely short memory.

Even Romneycare in Massachusetts was not the genesis of Obamacare. The individual mandate, subsidies for low income earners and most other attributes of Obamacare were all part of the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, introduced by Republican U.S. Senator John Conyers and supported by fellow Republicans Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennet and Kit Bond, among others.

Bennet would go on in 2007 to join Democrat Ron Wyden in introducing the Healthy Americans Act, which also featured an individual mandate and “State Help Agencies,” now called “health care exchanges” or “health care marketplaces.”

That Republicans used to introduce this horrible program as an alternative to the even worse single payer proposal by Democrats is no excuse. It is precisely the tyrannical, economically obtuse and grossly unfair program that Republicans have described it as for the past four years – after promoting it for the previous twenty.

It goes to show that given a long enough stay in Washington, D.C., anyone will begin to see govenrment as the only answer to any problem, most of which are created by government in the first place.

More importantly, debacles like Obamacare are rarely the result of presidential elections. Presidents like FDR, LBJ and Obama merely become the face associated with laws that finally pass after resistance has been worn down over decades.

James Madison’s words from the Federalist are instructive:

“But in a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.”

Despite the many usurpations of power by the executive branch, it is still “the enterprising ambition” of Congress that causes most of the misery government continues to spread. Given enough time, they will impose their boondoggles, no matter how unwise and unpopular they are.

There are over 100 members of the House of Representatives that have sat in those seats since at least the 1990’s. There are almost 30 members of similar longevity in the Senate.

Who knows what they’ll drag out of the dustbin next? It’s time for voters to do a little sweeping of their own. The letters after representatives’ names should make little difference.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Is every nation on earth besides the United States “isolationist?”

kingTAMPA, September 3, 2013 – Just one day after President Obama requested a debate in Congress on military intervention in Syria, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has already trotted out the usual bludgeon against any call for restraint. Bomb Syria or you are an “isolationist.”

“Right now, I would say, if the vote were today, it would probably be a no vote. I’m hoping by the time next week comes around and hopefully the president can make his case that he will be able to get a majority of the House of Representatives. Right now, it would be very difficult and also we have an increasing isolationist wing in our party, which I think is damaging to the party and to the nation.”

Only in America is the word “isolationist” used to describe reluctance to initiate wars of choice. In every other context, that word has a far different meaning.

China had two major periods of “isolationism,” the first starting in the 14th century. For China, isolationism meant cutting off foreign trade, shipping, immigration and emigration.  China entered another period of isolationism under Mao Zedung, again closing its borders and cutting off all commerce with the outside world, other than the Soviet Union.

Japan also had its isolationist period between the 17th and 19th centuries. Isolationism for Japan meant prohibiting trade, immigration, emigration and correspondence with the outside world. It had nothing to do with a reluctance to go to war, much less with a reluctance to get involved in wars that had nothing to do with Japan.

The isolationist policies of China and Japan were considered repressive and backwards, forcibly isolating their citizens from the benefits of trade and friendship with other nations and cultures.

That’s why noninterventionists’ opponents choose to call them “isolationist;” to smear them as backwards and against “progress.” There is even a connotation of selfishness that attaches itself to those who do not support wars of choice. This is ridiculous, of course, but words can be powerful.

The UK Parliament just voted down military action against Syria. Of the other 190 nations of the world, only France joins the United States in supporting a strike.

When the Bush Administration invaded Iraq, only three other nations contributed troops.

The United States now spends more on its military than the next ten nations combined. They have 900 bases in over 100 countries. No nation on earth or in human history comes close to that military footprint.

Is every nation on earth besides the United States “isolationist?”

Despite not being attacked by another nation’s military in over seventy years, the United States has been almost constantly at war.

The active wars combined with maintenance of the massive overseas military establishment has been the single largest contributor to the federal government’s $12 trillion in public debt.

It has also skewed American manufacturing towards producing weapons and armaments, rather than products that enrich the lives of American citizens.

These are just a few consequences of the decision during the last century to abandon the foreign policy of Washington and Jefferson and “go abroad looking for monsters to destroy.”

As the debate in Congress heats up, Rep. King will certainly not be the last one to call those arguing for restraint isolationist. Hopefully, the American public will be more discerning than most media and recognize that friendship and trade with all nations combined with military restraint is not isolationism. It is the opposite.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Peter Schiff on The Real Crash, Austrian economics and Ron Paul

TAMPA, August 30, 2012 – Like Ron Paul, Peter Schiff was predicting the 2008 economic meltdown long before it occurred. Schiff is the president of Euro Pacific Capital, a firm that pursues investment strategies based upon Schiff’s contrarian economic analysis. Clients who took his advice over the past decade did very well, even after the financial crisis.

Both Paul and Schiff are proponents of the Austrian school of economics, which emphasizes free markets, sound money and Carl Menger’s subjective theory of value. Asked to describe what the “Austrian school” is, Schiff quipped,

“It’s kind of like you’re asking me ‘What’s Science? Or what’s astronomy, because you believe in astrology. Austrian economics is economics. Keynesianism is like a witch doctor. It’s all a bunch of nonsense, but politicians love Keynesianism, because it justifies what they want to do to get elected, which is spend more money, promise something for nothing, play Santa Claus.”

Schiff was Ron Paul’s economic advisor during the 2008 campaign.

Schiff became a national sensation when the predictions documented in his 2007 book, Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse, came true. Not only was Schiff the darling of nationally televised financial and investing programs, but he found a whole new audience among Ron Paul supporters, who drove millions of page views to the You Tube video “Peter Schiff was right.”

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

 

Doug Wead not a typical Ron Paul supporter

TAMPA, August 30, 2012 – Anyone who has followed the Republican Party presidential nominating process knows the typical Ron Paul supporter. He or she is young, passionate about Paul’s platform, and willing to ride buses all night and knock on doors all day to support Ron Paul. Most often, he or she has never participated in the political process before.

Doug Wead couldn’t be less typical in that respect. Wead is a longtime Republican Party insider. He’s worked on seven Republican presidential campaigns, starting with Barry Goldwater’s in 1964. He’s also worked in three administrations, for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He has entertained presidents at his house and visited theirs.

Before 2008, he didn’t know who Ron Paul was and wouldn’t have agreed with him on much..

Like so many others, Wead first became acquainted with Ron Paul during Paul’s 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Wead had concerns based upon his long experience about the Iraq War. That was how Ron Paul first caught his attention.

“When I saw the debate you mention in 2008, I thought I was the only person in the world who knew this or felt this way, and I hear Ron Paul start talking about this stuff, I didn’t know who he was. I said, ‘Who is this guy? How dare he talk about these things in public?”

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

 

Republican Party blocking massive Ron Paul event in Tampa?

TAMPA, June 2, 2012 – Ron Paul may have stopped actively campaigning in primary states that have not yet voted, but his Revolution shows no sign of slowing down.

Just a few days after the media erroneously reported that Ron Paul had dropped out of the presidential race, he won 80% of the delegates going to the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Minnesota.

His supporters are now organizing a massive event on the eve of the RNC to celebrate their ideas and Paul’s 77th birthday. Not just a political rally, Paul Festival will be three days of music, entertainment and activism featuring nationally-known musicians, comedians and other entertainers.

It will also feature plenty of the ideas of what Paul’s supporters call “the liberty movement.”

Reminiscent of Paul’s Rally for the Republic during the RNC in 2008, the event may have the Republican Party concerned about being upstaged again. The 2008 event sold out the Target Center in Minneapolis.

This time, Paul’s supporters are attempting to secure the Florida State Fairgrounds, where they expect an estimated 40,000 people per day to attend. The Republican Party is trying to block them.

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

Ron Paul’s caucus strategy is authentic republicanism

TAMPA, March 19, 2012 – Give yourself a test. Without doing a web search or whipping out that pocket U.S. Constitution that a wild-eyed Tea Partier handed you, fill in the blank in the following sentence: The U.S. Constitution guarantees to every state in the union a _____form of government.

If you are like ninety percent of the American electorate, you answered “democratic” and you were wrong. The answer is “a republican form of government.” There is a drastic difference between the two and one would think that the Republican Party would know it. Instead, they are identical to their rivals in not only ignoring the distinction but promoting democracy instead.

In a democracy, the will of the majority is the law. Fifty-one percent of the vote empowers the winners to exercise any power they wish. Not so in a republic. The reason that the founders constructed a constitutional republic was to protect Americans from democracy.

That may sound like sacrilege to most 21st century Americans, but it’s true. James Madison called democracy “the most vile form of government.” Thomas Jefferson said that when majorities oppress an individual they “break up the foundations of society.” Benjamin Franklin mused that democracy was like “two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.”

Republicanism is the logical form of government for conservatives. Conservatism at its best protects property rights from an unchecked majority plundering the individual. Liberalism at its best protects property rights from the wealthy conspiring with the government to plunder the masses. At their worst, both conservatism and liberalism legitimize plunder; the former for the few, the latter for the many.

Ron Paul’s presidential campaign strategy is rooted in republicanism. He has deliberately focused his efforts on the states that hold caucuses instead of primaries because caucuses do not let the majority rule unchecked. Instead of merely pulling a few levers behind a curtain, caucus participants must complete a multi-tiered process that occurs for months after the popular vote before being chosen for the national convention. Who can doubt that these delegates are more informed than the typical primary voter? The essence of republicanism is for reason to triumph over the transient passion of the majority.

Paul’s platform likewise represents what is best about conservatism. Without exception, it protects the individual from oppression by the majority. He is the only Republican presidential candidate that has actually said the words “role of government” during any debate. That’s because he is the only candidate that seems to recognize that the government’s role is limited; that even a majority vote cannot sanction it to exercise power beyond those limits. Throughout all of human history, conservatives have defended this principle against the ungoverned passion of the majority.

Yet, conservatives today sound just like liberals when they decry Paul’s supporters using the republican nature of the caucuses to overturn the decisions of uninformed majorities. Their opposition to both Paul’s platform and his political strategy begs the question: Does the Republican Party still believe in a republican form of government? Do they still believe that the power of the majority has limits? Or are they just Democrats with a different supporter base?

George W. Bush never once referred to the United States of America as “a republic.” He consistently referred to it as “a democracy” and like Woodrow Wilson claimed to be defending democracy all over the world. If he was representative of what the Republican Party now stands for, then how is it substantively different from the Democratic Party?

These same questions apply to the issues. If the Republican Party truly favors the big government alternatives to Ron Paul, candidates who all supported the expansion of the federal government in the past and who refuse to commit to any meaningful cuts now, then what is the debate about?

The federal government doesn’t need a manicure. It needs reconstructive surgery. Make that deconstructive surgery. You don’t turn $1.5 trillion deficits into surpluses by tweaking the way that federal departments are managed. You do so by completely eliminating departments and redefining the role of government. Only Ron Paul is proposing to do so. If there is anything left of what made the Republican Party different from the Democrats, they should support both Ron Paul’s platform and his political strategy.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Rick Santorum is Unelectable

Since the beginning of the Republican Presidential Primary race, we have heard that Ron Paul is unelectable. While many conservatives like some of Paul’s ideas on domestic policy, his non-interventionist foreign policy is supposedly a deal-breaker. Even in articles praising Paul on particular issues, reporters have without exception felt compelled to remind us that there is absolutely no chance that Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination for president.  This “unelectable” label has been used exclusively against Paul.

With only four candidates left in the race, the lead has changed hands several times. The current leader is Rick Santorum, fresh off primary wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri. Since those victories, the media have been trumpeting Santorum as the new frontrunner while completely ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room – Rick Santorum is unelectable.

With a plethora of debates behind us, we have had a chance to get to know the Republican candidates pretty well. All of the Republican candidates except for Ron Paul support some sort of federal government prohibition on gay marriage. Paul actually wants to get even the state governments out of the marriage business, taking the libertarian position that marriage is just a contract like any other. This has visibly upset Santorum, who not only opposes gay marriage but seems completely obsessed with homosexuality in general. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t believe, deep down, that Santorum wouldn’t support making homosexuality illegal again if he thought he could get away with it?

Most Republican voters put the federal budget at or near the top of their priority list as far as their political positions are concerned. Not Rick Santorum. The issues page on his website has the budget thirteenth on the page. What is the number one issue? “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography,” which Rick says “causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.” Queue the eerie music because we’re just getting started. Update: Since this article was published, Santorum’s staff has changed the order of the issues on his issue page. He has moved “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography” to last on the page, moving the federal budget up to 12th by default. Gay marriage now comes in at Number Two.

Number two on his list is “No More Leading from Behind for America,” which is basically the standard Republican Party line that the U.S. military should be deployed in just about every nation on earth. I happen to think that is crazy, but most Republicans don’t. However, number three on the list is gay marriage. So, out of the top three issues listed on his page, pornography and homosexuality are two of them.

To say that Rick is “a little uptight” is a gross understatement. Santorum has stated unequivocally that he believes that the federal government can and should regulate the bedroom. In fact, he has also said that there is no area of life that is beyond the government’s reach. Outside of the few states where evangelicals can allow him to get away with these positions, he simply cannot win. Voters in the more moderate states like New York and California – which control the bulk of the delegates – will find these ideas repugnant.

The media has often supported the “Ron Paul is unelectable” narrative by criticizing his supporters. I’m not sure what the beliefs of some of his supporters have to do with Paul’s fitness for the presidency, but the punditry believes it is a valid line of inquiry.

So, some of Ron Paul’s supporters believe in elaborate conspiracy theories. The most prevalent revolves around quasi-secret organizations like the Bilderbergs and the Trilateral Commission. The theory is that very wealthy families like the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers use these organizations to further a plot to establish a world government. Some people think this theory is “a little kooky.” Not all or even most Paul supporters hold these views, but let’s say that a significant minority do.

Now, let’s consider the views of a significant minority of the evangelicals that support Rick Santorum. They are fierce supporters of the U.S. government’s wars in the Middle East because they believe that if Jewish people do not control the city of Jerusalem, then…wait for it…Jesus will not return to earth during the “end time,” which they also believe will occur any minute now. They are willing to elect leaders who will take America to war based upon this belief, which ranks up there with the “precious bodily fluids” theory from Dr. Strangelove.

I’m not even 100% sure that Santorum doesn’t believe this himself. Someone should ask him. Certainly, there have been much sillier questions put to candidates during the debates. I for one would like to at least get this crossed off the long list of idiotic theories that inform the president.

Regardless of Santorum’s answer to that question, which it is only fair to assume would be “no,” his other positions still nullify any chance of him becoming president. From all reports, Santorum is a decent person and a good father, and there is certainly nothing wrong with having strong religious convictions. However, the vast majority of Americans do not believe that those convictions should be imposed upon other people with the force of law. Rick Santorum does. That alone makes it obvious that Rick Santorum is never going to be president. So why hasn’t the media proclaimed him unelectable as they have Ron Paul?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Perry vs. Romney? What Do Conservatives Really Want?

According to the left-leaning media and punditry, the race for the Republican nomination for president is dominated by right wing extremism. Positions as frightening as phasing out Medicare and getting rid of the Department of Education are being bandied about, with the only solace for liberals being the knowledge that those positions will moderate once the primaries are over and the Republican candidate tries to appeal to voters beyond the Republican base.

Supposedly, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney represent this “hard shift to the right” within the Republican Party, which is why they are in first and second place, respectively, in national polls. However, given the histories of these two men and their present stand on the issues, that narrative just doesn’t jibe with reality. In fact, if average conservative Americans really believe what they say they believe, it is difficult to figure out how any of them could cast a vote for Perry or Romney.

By “average conservative Americans,” I mean those people not in public office and unconnected to the political machine who vote in polls this early in the election cycle. Everyone knows these people. We work with them, socialize with them, live with them. Unlike most people we know, they feel strongly about politics and identify themselves as conservatives. They care enough to follow the nomination races over a year before the general election and can articulate an opinion, as opposed to the majority of Americans who will say something like “I haven’t made up my mind yet” to cover for the fact that they have no idea what any of the candidates in either party stand for.

I think that most would agree that this group of people generally say they believe in small government, free enterprise, traditional family and religious values, and (let’s face it) unqualified worship of the U.S. military, no matter how it is employed. These are the things that conservatives say that they are for.

It is not so much what they are for as what they are against that brought the Republican Party back from the brink in 2010. The Tea-powered victory in 2010 rode a wave of conservative backlash against Barack Obama and his socialist agenda of big government healthcare, environmentalism, and wealth redistribution. More than anything else, it was Obamacare that served as the rallying point. Anyone who attended a Tea Party event can attest to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the signs and speeches (when not glorifying the military) represented opposition to this evil, Marxist scheme. If only Obamacare could be repealed, America would return to the capitalist paradise
that it was under George W. Bush.

With that in mind, one has to ask how Mitt Romney is even in the race. After all, it was the Massachusetts healthcare plan supported and signed into law by Governor Romney that inspired Obamacare in the first place. Despite Romney’s insistence that there are “major differences” between the Massachusetts plan and Obama’s, the only tangible difference that he has been able to cite is that his plan was run at the state level and not forced on every American citizen as a “one-size fits all solution.” Other than that, I don’t believe that Romney or anyone else has been able to point out a fundamental difference between Romneycare and Obamacare.

So that’s what all of the noise was about in 2010? The Tea Party rallies, the signs, the angry town hall meetings? I thought that conservatives objected to the fundamental socialist principles embodied in Obamacare: the central economic planning, the government-enforced mandate, and the wealth redistribution. I don’t remember signs saying “let the states run Obamacare.” It was get rid of government-run healthcare (except for Medicare) or we’ll be living in the 1960’s-era Soviet Union before the next election.

“People can change,” some supporters might tell you, and that is certainly true. But has Romney really changed? As of this writing, the issues page on his website says, “States and private markets, not the federal government, hold the key to improving our health care system.”

Not just “private markets,” but “states and private markets” hold the key. It would seem that Romney hasn’t changed his mind at all about his state-run, big government socialist healthcare program. If Romney’s only defense of his plan is that it was run at the state level rather than the national level, then average American conservatives should be automatically vetoing his candidacy on Romneycare alone. Yet Romney led the race until Rick Perry entered, and is still a solid second.

That brings us to Rick Perry. He has also convinced his conservative supporters that he has changed his views since previously being a Democrat. That is certainly not unprecedented. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat before becoming what most conservatives perceive as the quintessential conservative president. However, Perry wasn’t just a Democrat.

If there is any one person in second place to Obama as the arch-villain in conservative mythology, it is Al Gore, (or Algore as Rush Limbaugh refers to him). Gore is the undisputed leader of the liberal environmentalist movement, which lays the blame for the global warming that conservatives don’t even believe exists at the feet of free enterprise. If Obamacare was the peanut butter of the present administration’s  platform in 2008, then Cap and Trade was the jelly. Conservatives wanted no part of either, and see Gore as every bit the evil Marxist that Obama is because of his leadership on this issue.

Believe it or not, it was this Conservative Public Enemy No. 2 that Perry supported as a Democrat in the 1988 primaries. He not only supported Gore, but actually chaired his campaign in Texas. He could have supported the eventual Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis, whose most striking difference to Gore was his refusal to bow to environmental interests at the expense of economic development, as documented in the New York Times. In other words, even as a Democrat, Perry backed a radical environmentalist extremist instead of a somewhat more moderate centrist.

Again, people can change their minds, but has Perry changed his? Does he oppose Cap and Trade on principle, as most conservatives say they do? Apparently he does not, according to his actions as governor. As with Romney on healthcare, Perry is completely supportive of a policy that conservatives say they are fundamentally opposed to, as long as the evil is perpetrated by the state governments rather than the feds. The chief difference between the Cap and Trade imposed on Texans and that imposed by the federal government seems to be that Texas measures emissions limits on the whole facility while the EPA measures it on every smokestack. Is that the sole objection that average conservatives have to Al Gore and his global warming (excuse me, climate change) agenda?

As with Romney, Perry’s support for a key plank in the socialist-liberal agenda should be a deal killer for anyone remotely describing themselves as conservative. Yet not only has Perry been able to sidestep any criticism on this position, he’s currently leading the nomination race by a comfortable margin.

So, what do conservatives really want? If these polls are any indication, they want a good-looking former governor with a suspiciously liberal background who is good at spouting hardcore conservative rhetoric and then doing exactly the opposite once he gets into office. In other words, they want Ronald Reagan, the former New Deal Democrat who suddenly became a libertarian-leaning ultra-conservative and rode that rhetoric into the White House, where he promptly doubled the size and power of the federal government, raising taxes six times and further empowering the Department of Education that he promised to abolish.

It’s not as if there are not alternatives. Ron Paul, currently running third, actually believes in the principles conservatives say they hold dear and has voted consistently according to them as a 12-term Congressman. He is on the record vowing to get rid of the Department of Education, along with Energy, Commerce, and most of the others. You won’t hear anything like that from Romney or Perry, yet it’s an uphill battle for Paul, supposedly because of his foreign policy positions.

But what about Herman Cain and Gary Johnson? As a libertarian, I don’t buy into the “government should be run like a business” philosophy, but most conservatives do. Both Cain and Johnson take this approach, with Johnson promising to deliver a balanced budget proposal in his first year, including abolishing the Department of Education. Yet these two candidates aren’t even on the map with conservative voters.

With several nationally-televised debates completed and plenty more coming, conservative voters have plenty of alternatives in selecting a candidate. According to their most fiercely-held beliefs, conservatives should be voting “anybody but Perry or Romney,” yet those two lead the race. One has to wonder where all of these supposed “right wing extremists” are hiding.

Contrary to the liberal media narrative that the Republican Party has shifted hard to the right and is fielding “extremist” candidates to run against Obama, the primary race looks more like business as usual. Former liberals and big government conservatives are railing against government to energize their conservative supporters, while at the same time openly supporting cornerstones of the liberal agenda. If Perry and Romney are an indication of where conservative voters are headed in 2012, then the Democrats have nothing to worry about, even if Obama loses.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

© Thomas Mullen 2011