by Rod D. Martin
May 25, 2006
With all due respect to Yogi, the question is which fork to take.
With Election Day approaching, and the very real possibility that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid may retake Capitol Hill, conservatives reply that Republicans must quit hiding and start behaving like Republicans again.
This is always the right thing to do. But midterm elections are “base” elections, and since the GOP’s conservative base outnumbers the Democrats’ liberal base, motivating it and turning it out will ensure a November victory, preparing the way for the bigger majority needed to stop liberal filibusters once and for all.
That is sound, solid advice for every Republican incumbent and challenger.
But it’s not the only advice that’s needed, both this year and beyond.
It’s long past time Republicans began countering three deadly fallacies to which millions of Americans adhere. Until these lies are overcome, the conservative agenda will continue to face difficulty, too frequently from within the Republican Party itself. It’s time to act.
Fallacy #1. The pursuit of wealth is a zero-sum game.
When it comes to economics, many Americans unwittingly embrace both Ronald Reagan and Karl Marx.
On the one hand, they are convinced that hardworking, resourceful individuals can and do achieve the American Dream. On the other hand, they picture the nation’s wealth being some permanently limited resource, concluding (wrongly) that if Bill Gates or Donald Trump are earning more of it, others must be getting less.
But this whole picture is wrong, and the transformation of America — in just one century — from Little House on the Prairie to The Jetsons (if my daughter’s new cell phone is any indication) tells the tale. The Left wants to split up one, tiny pie. Conservatives want to bake new pies, lots of them, for everyone. And that free market approach is why you aren’t living in a log cabin.
So long as millions see our economic “pie” as static, hard Left redistributionist demagogues will successfully block true tax reform, health care reform, pension reform and anything else promoting growth; and they’ll bash Republicans for supposedly “favoring the rich” at every step of the way. We simply must educate the American people on the nature of wealth, how it’s created, and the glories of entrepreneurship.
Fallacy #2. The way to solve a problem is to throw more money — especially federal money — at it.
Back in 1995 and 1996, when Republicans openly discussed abolishing the federal Department of Education, parents recoiled in horror, afraid they were proposing to gut education itself.
Republicans must refute two huge errors — that America’s challenges can always be solved with money, and that this money must always come from Washington.
It’s easy enough to show that dollars can’t improve education if other forces — family breakdown, demented educational theories, and dysfunctional bureaucracy — are undermining it. And many of the states with the highest education spending have test scores far inferior to some of the states with the lowest for this very reason.
On this issue and many others, people must be shown that a centralized answer is usually more expensive and less effective. The statistics are clear enough. But Republicans are rarely equally clear.
Fallacy #3. The ’60s are over.
Where have all the flower children gone? Sadly enough, to positions of power and influence.
When conservatives rightly criticize biased news reporting, crude depictions of sex and violence, the glamorization of unwed parenting, unconstitutional judicial rulings and the coarsening of public discourse, they’re describing just one single phenomenon — the counterculture’s lock on America’s “Establishment”.
Republicans’ failure to attack this head-on is partly motivated by fear: they carelessly assumed that most of America’s 78 million baby boomers are Woodstock leftists. But this is patently false. Most boomers are of the ’70s generation, and are about as embarrassed by their “make love not war” siblings as the rest of us. Many ’60s boomers have always agreed too.
So knowing this, when Republicans are labeled “intolerant” on cultural or moral matters, they fearlessly reply: that it’s really the aging hippies who are intolerant — and supremely arrogant — in overthrowing 20 centuries of moral wisdom without a hint of reflection or thought. The rest of us know better, and think its long past time these punks grew up. We shouldn’t miss a chance to say so.
Republicans may well keep Congress this year, and God help us if they don’t. But these three fallacies will remain a powerful stumbling block to conservatism until they’re put to rest. Standing at this crossroads, its time we helped America take the right fork once and for all.