Note: The following article was originally written for Gather.com in November 2010. This blog has been subsequently created to host the series, which was originally going to be exclusive to Gather.com.
The election is finally over. As expected, voters- already tired of the Democrats’ rule- have begun to toss the ball back to Republicans. It is yet to be seen whether they will finish that toss in the 2012 elections, and I think it is premature to call the shots.
For our confused Democrat supporting friends- who legitimately ask¹ why voters favor the Republican party who just a few years ago trampled the Constitution and supposedly crashed the economy on their own- here’s a partial explanation: Some ballots were not cast for Republicans, but rather against the Democrats. The Democratic party’s record of the past two (and four) years has been rejected. With no perceived alternative, they have desperately looked back to their former abusers, considering them a better bet than their present abusers.
At some point, you would think, we would tire of this back and forth game, and search out alternatives; whether that be actual third parties or Republican and Democratic candidates that hold a fundamentally different ideology aside from the statist quo (yes, that is possible). Republicans have faced numerous warnings that this is their last chance with some voters². If they fail to deliver the ever elusive change this time, standing up for the principles they claim to support, they will lose another segment of voters to third parties. The lesser of the two evils argument is becoming less convincing, and for good reasons. With this in mind, I suspect Republicans will do something good, if only for self-preservation.
Personally, I remain skeptical that the next two years will be much better. Sure, if we get it, gridlock will slow things up a bit, but nowadays unelected bureaucrats are so busy writing new rules we hardly enjoy that safety Benjamin Franklin referred to when the legislature is out of session³. It seems the best case scenario is walking down the path of destruction at a slightly slower pace. That is hardly victory at all.
What really means something is the reversal of our trot down the road to serfdom. And Republicans haven’t had the guts to do that for decades, instead taking delight in trying to outdo the other party. Now I’ll concede that this year is bringing us a couple of solid Republicans that are willing and ready to do the right thing. But overall- the average Republican victor from Tuesday can’t even bring himself to seriously discuss or question some of the main pillars of socialism (and fascism, corporatism, etc): the central bank, the warfare state, or the welfare state. In other words, they are not willing to implement much change.
My observations of the past few months- on Gather and elsewhere, continuously point to the need for serious, grown up discussion of the ideas that are beneath our political cloaks. Ideas, not politicians or parties, is what matters most. Ideas have not changed significantly in the past two years. It usually takes longer than that for such to happen. I know it took me over a year of intensive political thinking and reading to transform from a more party-line, obedient Republican to a principled supporter of liberty.
It’s my intention, going forward, to spend a little more time making posts with more emphasis on the why and how of ideas; and a little less time posting on and commenting on tabloid news, copy and paste articles, left and right bickering, etc. Not that I’m going to stop it all, but I do need a change in strategy, especially since time is becoming a more scarce commodity for me these days.
Henry David Thoreau condensed one of the prevalent problems people repeat into one sentence:
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root.”4
I think that is very applicable to what I’m doing here. We hack at the branches of evil: politicians, political parties, legislation. But we never strike at the root of the problems: the ideas hiding beneath all of that.
Hence, I’ve created a new group, Striking at the Root, exclusively for this series of refreshingly infrequent but more substantial posts. I’ll email group members when I make a new post. Topics will primarily be on politics and economics, but may stray into other interesting subjects once in a while. Everyone is invited to join- I’ve already sent out invites to those on my friends list.
I’ll also be including an RSS feed in the Striking at the Root series to make it easier for members and non-members alike to keep up with every post:
1- See here, here and here for examples.
3- “No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session.” –Benjamin Franklin
4- Credit to Mr. Bachman for acquainting me with this quote.
Photo credit: Light bulb animation, Brendan Berman