Saturday, August 11, 2012

The "Crazy" Meme

One of the strategies of the Left in this election cycle is to paint their opponents, whether the Tea Party or social conservatives, as "crazy." So what are the specifics of this charge? Are we really off our rocker in our desire for smaller, more effective, and less intrusive government? And, does wanting to see our deeply held values reflected in our nation's policies make us certifiably insane?

First, they seem to be saying that we're crazy because we want to reduce taxes. Conservatives are accused of following the insane demands of Grover Norquist, and thus are really and truly nuts. The irony is that it would be hard to find, in the land of poltics, a more soft-spoken, articulate, and rational defender of his positions than Grover Norquist. As he says repeatedly, the problem with our economy is not that taxes are too low, but that government spending is too high. And he has the statistics and facts to back it up. Listening to the man you see that he is anything but a raving demagogue, he is a man devoted to solving one of the greatest problems facing our society: excessive government spending that will produce deficits and debts that will be all consuming and destroy our economy.

The essence of the Democratic argument against the Republicans and the Tea Party is that they only want to reduce taxes for the rich and thus increase the deficit while destroying the middle class.  But those of us on the conservative side of this argument don't see lowering taxes as our primary purpose, our concern is out of control government spending and utterly ineffective government bureauracracy. We are sick of seeing our taxes wasted on programs and projects that don't work. We really want some measure of accountability and the possiblity of reforming or eliminating counter-productive government programs.

Call me crazy, but which of the competing political parties is addressing the existential threat facing our econmy, and which is living in the denial of "business as usual"? For over a decade, David Walker, the former comptroller of the U.S., has been warning us of the dangers of our ballooning deficits and growing entitlement obligations. The only party that is seeking to find a workable solution to this pending disaster are those wacky Republicans.

So many of the impediments to economic growth that we are facing today are tied to the size and scope of government, as well as with how much money our government spends (40% of which is borrowed). From George W. Bush's attempt to reform Social Security to Paul Ryan's plan to bring Medicare and Medicaid costs under control, it is the Democrats who are refusing to cooperate in finding a way out of our debt and deficit crisis. They claim, of course, that they want a "balanced" approach to deficit reduction, which means they want to raise taxes on wealthy Americans. The problem is, they have no plan, or even intention, for reducing spending and reforming entitlements. There is no equivalent to a Paul Ryan or David Walker on the Left. In past years, we had serious statemen such a Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Evan Bayh among the Democrats willing to tackle the serious social and economic problems we face. Even Bill Clinton demonstrated an understanding of these serious problems and was willing to work with the Republican congress in his second term to make progress in balancing the budget, reducing investment taxes, and enabling economic growth. I see no one on the blue side of the aisle that is willing to propose a serious solution to our debt, deficit, and unsustainable entitlements. Just look at what the Democratic governors of California and Illinois are doing in response the terrible economic condition of their states, they seem to have no capacity for thinking outside the progressive box.

The crazy meme is part of the strategy of the Left to demagogue its oponents rather than engage in a real debate over the issues of the day. It's almost as if, the liberal mindset assumes that anything the Right is concerned about can't actually be a problem. It is a symptom of the level of disregard liberalism shows toward anyone and anything Conservative. The Left really is convinced that its intentions are so noble and egalitarian that to oppose them means you no sense of decency. It is this sense, that their opponents are evil and not just wrong, that justifies their desire to silence, outlaw, and eliminate those on the other side. Chick-fil-A is just the latest rendition of this strategy. It also contributes to their unwillingness to seriously engage with Conservatives on the issues of the day, after all, those Republicans are crazy.

We heard lots of talk about bi-partisanship in the 2008 election season, but now, not so much. It still stands as an important part of the process, we really must find solutions that have broad political and public support. There is a reason the Affordable Care Act received no Republican support, it included nothing that expressed their deeply held concerns about rising health care costs nor were any of their proposals such as tort reform, health savings accounts, and true insurance reform included in the legislation.

We have become so polarized that the only way for a political party to get its agenda passed, is to gain control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency. The Democrats set this pace beginning in 2006 and culminating with the election of Barak Obama in 2008. I believe they squandered their opportunity by being so overtly ideological in pushing the major item on the progressive agenda, universal health care. In this election, we see many Conservatives pushing for the completion of the 2010 Tea Party Revolution with a truly conservative Congress and a Republican President in 2012. Only then will we be able to acheive the major goals (tax reform, reduced spending, and efforts toward a balanced budget). The question for the American people will be, do these pet projects of the Republican party really work to solve the terrible economic problems we face? As a conservative, I believe they will, but I also understand that we cannot ignore many of the legitimate concerns of our fellow Americans on the Left. With the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, there is a chance that the conservative approach to our problems can be presented in an articulate and coherent manner, and thus win the support of a broad spectrum of the country. What we cannot do is call each other "crazy."

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