On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli put forth a marvelous patriotic rant for several minutes declaring that Americans should stand up and protest the Obama administration’s outrageous socialist policies. And he promised to organize a Chicago Tea Party to help publicize the cause later in July.
Little did he know at the time what he had wrought. He was cheered vehemently by millions of libertarians, conservatives, and independents throughout America. By April 15th “tea parties” in more than 750 cities held demonstrations. The fervor for revitalizing Samuel Adams’ 1773 Boston Tea Party rebellion against the oppressive English spread in waves across modern America. The call went out to stand against Washington’s domination of our lives just as the patriots of our founding era had done. And it was met magnificently. The protests swelled into July and culminated in a massive “taxpayers march on D.C.” on September 12, 2009 that numbered several hundred thousand marchers.
Out of this, many of us in the libertarian and conservative movements developed high hopes that the history of Lexington and Concord could be repeated – not violently, but intellectually and democratically. Could we not spawn a new Sons of Liberty for the modern day who would do as Sam Adams’ boys had done in the beginning? The original Sons of Liberty in 1773 became the hub of a profound wheel that fanned out across the colonies with intrepid spokes of brilliance to galvanize Americans against the tyranny of King George. The combination of their provocative protests with the philosophical thought of the likes of Locke and Jefferson brought us the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, and the birth of the world’s first free nation at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in 1787. Out of such kernels of intrepidity, usher forth all the giant societal changes in mankind’s fortunes. When heroic men and women become acquainted with great philosophical truth, they become willing to stand against the tides of corruption and conformity inherent in all statist establishments. To such revolutionary paragons we owe much.
It was a heady time to be alive in September of 2009. The contemptible Marxist-Keynesian political control over Americans – orchestrated by professorial cheerleaders in the universities and enabled so shamefully by a lapdog media – would surely now be brought to account. The dreadful decadence and destruction of our country that had been slithering over us for the past 50 years would be exposed. Americans would rally to drive out the Demopublican usurpers of our rights and liberties. New leaders would be brought to the helm of the Republican Party to challenge the vice grip that the neocon pundits, the corporatists, and the elite bankers held over the party’s policy directives. The vision of Jefferson would be restored to Washington. Heady times indeed.
Einstein’s Definition of Insanity
But throughout 2009 even though many of us held high hopes, we remained suspicious of any movement that set out to “reform the GOP.” Such reform visions had been the goals of countless organizations and prominent activists ever since the early days of Barry Goldwater in 1960. And what had they brought us? Nothing but relentless capitulation to the welfare-warfare state for 50 years.
We realized what the Tea Party marchers were not facing up to: Republicans have, for many decades now, approached politics like mules – stodgily repeating the same course that they have trekked for decades. The history of the GOP is Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results.
From Eisenhower to Nixon to Ford to Reagan to Daddy Bush to little boy George, the GOP has lived by one rule: once in Washington, waste no time in capitulating to Democratic socialism because that is where the votes are. Always put re-election above the country, above freedom, above honor. If the Democrats increase spending by $200 billion in any given year, then Republicans must increase it also. Of course, our fearless Republicans only push for increases of $180 billion, and in so doing they conceive of themselves as brave defenders of the pass, as modern day Rolands at Roncesvalles.
Neocons like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey have done what true conservatives feared. They have sucked the Tea Party into the black hole of their Demopublican monopoly. Gingrich and Armey quickly positioned their organizations to co-opt the Tea Party movement. And the Tea Party leaders, so flattered with this emergent courtship and accompanying media prominence, now conceive of themselves as “profound revolutionaries” that are going to heroically reform the GOP. This is the kiss of death for the Tea Party. Gingrich, Armey, and their cohorts are the epitome of what is wrong with the conservative movement in America. They pay only lip service to freedom’s ideals. When it comes time to match the rhetoric with action, they cave in to the debt peddlers like female groupies falling into the sack at a rock star’s after-performance party. Yet Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation now writes worshipful articles praising the merits of neocon Newt Gingrich for President. Power rather than principle is what Phillips and the Tea Party Nation want, and they will hop onto the backs of the most disgraceful of solons to get it. This game has been played by conservatives for five decades now, and it gets us nothing but bigger and uglier government.
To paraphrase biblical wisdom, what does it benefit conservatives to win power if it must be done by joining with liberals and neocons to expand the usurpations of the state? What has been gained but a disgraceful charade? This, I submit, is the political history of the Republican Party for the past 50 years – a disgraceful charade. Even the fabled Reagan swelled the welfare state and debt prodigiously over his eight years in office. Does Judson Phillips actually think that the likes of Pelosi’s buddy, Newt Gingrich, and Greenspan lionizer, Herman Cain, will somehow reverse the course of this runaway socialist freight train we have created in Washington?
Stop the Disgraceful Charade
If one is brave enough to face up to this disgraceful charade on the part of the GOP, then the next step is to be brave enough to stop being a mule, to stop blindly doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Yet what do we hear from 80 percent of the conservatives in the Tea Party movement? “We need to concentrate,” they say, “on electing to office better, more conservative Republicans who will go to Washington with a clear commitment to reduce government spending. We need to take over control of the GOP.” These, of course, are the same platitudinous mouthings that conservative activists have been exclaiming for 50 years. This is what I mean by being mules.
Oh, Tea Party conservatives do have great aspirations just as those activists in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s had. They envision an army of Republican Jimmy Stewarts, like his character in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, marching to the Potomac and turning the tyrannical federal beast into a true limited governing body again.
What the Tea Party activists and their leaders are missing, however, is that once the new conservative Mr. Smiths get ensconced in the capital city, they soon get bit by the power disease and realize that it is much easier to win votes by playing the pork and subsidy game, much easier to get big campaign donations by conveying special privileges to the corporations. They quickly succumb to the sordid favor dispensing game and join the ranks of the Demopublican big spenders.
Why? Because they must cross over the aisle and do as the Democrats do if they wish to be re-elected. Our distorted tax system is at fault here. Few pundits today are willing to talk about this problem; but our tax system is the root cause of explosive government growth. The “infinite demand” for government services that is bankrupting us stems from our progressive tax rates that exempt 50 percent of the nation’s voters from paying taxes. If 50 percent of a nation’s voters do not have to pay taxes for services, then they are going to desire all the government services they can get, and they will continually vote for those politicians who promise to increase spending every election year. This is basic human nature and one of the cardinal laws of economics. If government benefits are free, demand for them will be infinite! Only by enacting a 10 percent equal-rate tax for everyone can this irresponsibility be ended.
Achieving True Reform
Genuine tax reform is, thus, the linchpin to our salvation. But there is no chance to get genuine tax reform passed unless an independent candidate makes a Ross Perot style run and gains entrance into the National TV Presidential Debates to sell 70 million Americans on such a reform’s crucial necessity in stopping government growth.
Why? Because real tax reform is a third rail for both Republicans and Democrats. They will never advocate ending exemptions for the 50 percent low income earners because they know it would spell death to their desires to be re-elected. Only a third-party can bring such a proposal to the public in clear fashion because only a properly structured third-party would be in a position of not needing to win office immediately.
What do we mean by a “properly structured third-party?” We mean that the third-party be first and foremost a “teaching party.” It would construct a simple, common sense, reform platform and combine it with a nationally-known candidate, which would gain it 15% in the polls so as to qualify for the National TV Presidential Debates and thus avoid the marginalization that plagues the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party.
Such a third-party would then be able to put the necessary tax reform in front of 70 million voters who watch the national debates because its goal would be primarily to get the ideas of “equal-tax rates” in front of the people and let election victory come later after this crucial policy has won the people over.
Imagine such a third-party’s presidential candidate conducting half-hour lectures in prime time on national TV the night before each of his debates with his Democratic and Republican opponents as Ross Perot did in 1992. In these half-hour lectures he would explain how the progressive income tax and the Fed’s egregious monetary inflation are the roots of our problem today. Imagine such a “teaching party” doing this every four years. Imagine it growing strong enough to effectively run senatorial and congressional candidates every two years in the off-year elections and participating in the hundreds of local TV debates throughout the country. This would bring about a huge paradigm shift in the politics of America. The horrid Demopublican monopoly would be broken. The restoration of the Republic could begin.
Of course, the obligatory smear campaign from the left regarding equal-rate taxation would need to be countered. But contrary to what our statist pundits maintain, a 10 percent equal-rate tax assessed on all citizens would not hurt the poor. It would, in fact, raise their standard of living by 16 percent if combined with reform of the Fed’s excessive monetary inflation and thus net them a 6 percent improvement. Space prohibits validation of this here, but my book, The Conservative Revolution: Why We Must Form a Third Political Party to Win It, explains this deplorably ignored truth with ample documentation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Thus a properly structured third-party’s goal would be to teach the people the truth about what is destroying our country. It would be to act as a magnet to draw the people away from the nefarious policies of Republicans and Democrats that have destroyed the system over the past 50 years. Imagine every election year a “party of truth” exposing the sham and tyranny of our corrupt establishment.
Unless such a common sense challenge takes place, the Republican Party will continue to fulfill Einstein’s definition of insanity because its candidates are obsessed with winning office immediately and repeatedly. They’ve been doing this for five decades, and still they never get the message.
What Judson Phillips and his Tea Party Nation cannot see is that almost all new conservatives we send to Congress must end up as journalist Stanton Evans told us, “treating the sewer of Washington like a hot tub.” They must hop in and wallow in pork and privilege with the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in order to be re-elected. Until we have shut down the “infinite demand for government spending” that progressive tax rates generate, any new conservatives we manage to elect as Republicans will continue to be bought off by the forces of collectivism. The freedom movement will continue to stall, and statism will continue to grow.
In order to end this insanity we have to tell the people the truth about what is causing the insanity. We have to show them how progressive tax rates act as the fuel for exponential government growth. And we must do it in a sensationalized manner. We must get an articulate independent candidate into the National TV Presidential Debates to instruct 70 million Americans in a matter of years, not decades. We must do what Steve Jobs continually encouraged his comrades at Apple to do: “Think Different!” The media and the academy will not tell the truth. The GOP will not tell the truth. Only a third-party candidate (who’s not afraid of losing the election) will.
A Corrupt and Ossified Institution
It is time to dramatically change our strategy. All conservative activist groups need to see the GOP for what it is – a corrupt and ossified institution that no longer serves a meaningful purpose. The GOP is like the tragic protagonist in Oscar Wilde’s nineteenth century novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Because Dorian Gray had made a Faustian bargain by selling his soul to the devil, he never ages over the years. Only his portrait ages becoming grotesquely wrinkled and hidden away from friends in the attic. This deal with the devil enables Gray to continually live in debauchery. In like manner, the GOP has sold its soul to the devils of massive debt and privilege and thus continually lives in debauchery. It conveys privileges to banks and corporations who donate money back in return, and it creates massive debt for the free “entitlements” it grants to the lower 50 percent of income earners in return for their votes. To imperceptive observers, the GOP, like Dorian Gray, appears to be beautiful and idealistic. But in actuality it is like Gray’s hidden portrait in the attic, a withered and decrepit gargoyle of greed and blindness.
Because of the Faustian bargain they have made with the banks, corporations, and seekers of “entitlements for nothing,” Republican politicians will always choose to be Demopublicans and can never become Jeffersonians. The snare of fiat money and progressive taxation defines their existence. They will always be profligate Dorian Grays stealing from the productive and bankrupting the future because it is the only way they can get re-elected under our progressive tax system. And re-election is what they want more than freedom, more than honor, more than justice.
How do we end the tragedy of this Faustian bargain? Only by restoring the concept of “equal rights under the law” to our tax system. In other words, by repealing progressive tax rates and enacting a “10 percent equal-rate tax” that requires all citizens to pay proportionally for their government services. We cannot have equal rights without equal rates. This is the only way to have a responsible electorate. Our progressive tax rate system’s massive exemptions are bankrupting us. Discussion of this cardinal evil is what is missing in our analysis of today’s political scene.
Tea Party activists are, thus, playing a fool’s game if they think their “better, more conservative Republicans” will do anything other than what Republicans have been doing for 50 years – crossing over the aisle to hop into the hot tub of pork and privilege to insure their re-election. If we are not wise enough and strong enough to put an opposition voice (i.e., a third-party, independent candidate) into the National TV Presidential Debates to explain the requisites for saving America to the people, then we will not save America. We will live out our lives like the members of Marshal Petain’s Vichy government in 1940 France – as that of enablers of tyranny – and the end result of our life’s commitment will be the sad degradation of the American experiment.