Reject your political party: The Republican Party
Reject Your Political Party Series
Both major American political parties have stated purposes and stated platforms. In this short series, I intend to assess whether or not those platforms are beneficial for the people of the United States. I also intend to show how the actions of party leaders violate the stated purposes of their respective parties.
Republican Party Platform and Stated Positions
The Republican Party presents itself as the party of limited government. The party favors states’ rights over federal power. They are the protector of Judeo-Christian morals, supporters of a strong national defense, and friend to small business. Of course, none of this is true. The GOP can be proven to be in violation of all these principles when you contrast theory with behavior.
First, the positive. The mindset behind limited government is beneficial to both commerce and liberty. What is “limited government”? Limited government is the idea that government should be kept small and efficient. Government should be limited to essential services; things like police, fire, and national defense. Government should not be involved in healthcare, welfare for the poor, environmental protection, etc. These are best left to private individuals because government bureaucracy is wasteful and it is not subject to the same market forces as private industry. The smaller the government is kept, the less wasteful of limited resources our society will be.
Limited government is also more beneficial to individual liberty. One needs only to look to history to see how a monolithic centralized government always tramples the rights first of minorities, then of everyone else. Look to the governments of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong for a brief overview. The bigger the government, the more hostile it MUST be to individual liberty because as the size and scope of government increases, more time and resources must be consumed to support the rulers and taken away from the masses. The purposely vague “greater good” of the collective is preached by the power brokers, and their definition of the greater good always trumps the rights of any one individual.
There’s a huge problem, though. Limited government is extremely hard to define, if not impossible. How do you define limits? Certainly everyone will disagree on what the limits should be. Even if we could magically make everyone agree to the limits, there’s no guarantee the people wielding the power will confine themselves to these limits. A constitution does nothing to limit government power because the judicial system will interpret everything to be constitutional if it suits the needs of the ruling class. Lysander Spooner, an anarchist lawyer from the 19th Century, wrote, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”
A good example is the recent ruling of the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare. This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional because it violates the Commerce Clause, the very clause its supporters used to argue in its favor. However, Chief Justice Roberts, a “conservative” judge appointed by Republican George W. Bush, upheld the constitutionality of the law by torturing the definitions of “fines” and “taxes”… With conservatives like these, who needs liberals?
Let’s pretend that limited government is possible/feasible for a moment. Has the Republican Party ever supported limits to the power of the federal government? No. It never has. Some conservatives will tell you that the Republican leadership has simply “lost the way.” That’s not the case. Ever since the first national Republican leader, Abraham Lincoln, the party has been the party of mercantilism and military adventurism. If the Republican Party supported limited government and states’ rights, then why did Lincoln’s government violate states’ rights by invading the South? Why did they set up a military dictatorship in many areas of the South during Reconstruction? These are the reasons why the South was heavily Democratic until the 1960s. If the modern Republican Party favors states’ rights, then why do Republican leaders continue to use the DEA to prosecute American citizens that live in states where marijuana has been legalized? The answer is it’s just rhetoric.
Moral Superiority?: Overview
The GOP is the protector of Judeo-Christian morals, right? The problem in arguing for/against this point is that every Jew and Christian has a different idea of what “Judeo-Christian” morals really are. The Torah and the Bible are both unclear on many issues. The Ten Commandments say, “Thou Shalt Not Murder”… but God orders thousands, if not millions, of murders in the Bible in the form of the genocides against the people living in the Canaan valley. Does “God Hate Fags” like the detestable Westboro Baptist Church claims? Certainly one can make a case against homosexuality based on the Bible. Then again, it could also be argued that King David was a bisexual, and he was a man after God’s own heart. Ever since the late 1970s/early 1980s, the “religious right” has been a huge influence on Republican politics, but the religious right cannot agree on what their morality should be.
For a moment, pretend that Judeo-Christian morals are unanimous among the Christian community, whatever that means. (There are approximately 41,000 denominations of Christianity in the USA alone.) Is it the government’s job to enforce them? What about the separation of church and state? Should Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists be punished for living by a different religious (or secular) code, simply because they are in the minority? Americans criticize Muslim theocracies for oppressing Christian minorities in their boundaries, and rightfully so. Shouldn’t we “take the plank out of our own eye” first?
Moral Superiority?: The Drug War
The drug war is a major issue in which conservatives and Republicans claim the moral high ground. The argument goes, “Drugs are bad for you, therefore they should be illegal in order to protect people from themselves.” There are several problems with this line of thinking. First, not all drugs are bad for you. The “gateway drug,” marijuana, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, ease pain, and treat glaucoma. Second, making something illegal does not eliminate the want for it, it just creates a black market. Remember alcohol prohibition? Third, don’t people have the right to their own property, including their own bodies? If I want to destroy my life with drugs, shouldn’t that be my choice, not yours? Many drug addicts want to recover, but they are afraid to seek help because of the legal ramifications. Certainly we can better help drug addicts recover if we know who they are, and if they are not in prison. The indelible Tom Woods mocked this position as follows: “If someone has a drug problem, prison rape is the best solution I can think of.”
Strong National Defense?
This is probably the most difficult issue to discuss for me, personally. My family has a rich history of military service, even though I personally do not. Several of my close friends have joined the military. However, I am strongly opposed not only to the unjust wars the US is currently fighting, but also to the bloated military industrial complex that is draining our economy and creating enemies overseas. I am aware that any time anyone says anything negative about the military, it’s usually followed up by an emotional gut reaction, not facts. Anyone criticizing the military tends to be labelled a “pinko” or “ungrateful for our freedoms” or a “coward.” The true cowards are those who are unwilling to critically examine facts and evidence in order to avoid confronting their possibly flawed belief systems.
I must clarify the anti-war case, briefly. Being anti-war does not automatically make you a pacifist. If an enemy threatens your life or property, you have the right to defend yourself, including using lethal force, if necessary. (Adherents to the Republican Party are usually pretty good on the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms for self defense.) This is the only time violence against others is acceptable, however: in defense. This position is a simplification of the just-war theory, and wars of aggression and/or occupation are not permitted according to this theory.
The current United States military campaign to be the world’s police is anything but defensive. The US currently has between 600-900 military bases (depending on your information source) in other countries. What is the US military doing in all those countries? Is it really for defense? Remember, the Roman Empire thought they needed to continually expand the empire defensively and it collapsed under the cost of maintaining the corrupt, bloated system. History is repeating itself. If the US wants to influence the rest of the world, isn’t it better to do it by example through hard work, creation, and trade rather than with bombs, force, and death? Niccolo Machiavelli, in his classic work, The Prince, argues that it is better to install a colony of civilians rather than a military garrison, as the locals would reject the soldiers but may accept and assimilate the civilian population. Has human nature changed so much since his day that this is no longer true?
Is the current US foreign policy constitutional? Conservatives and Republicans, you claim to respect, admire, even revere the Constitution. Does the Constitution allow for the United States to be the world’s policeman? Does the Constitution allow for the President to start wars? Does the Constitution allow for the President to assassinate whomever he wants with drone missiles under secret orders? The answer should be obvious to someone with even a passive interest in the US Constitution. (To me, the constitutional argument is not as effective as the moral argument, but it works.)
Currently, the US is involved in a “War on Terror.” We were attacked on 9/11, so we must fight terrorism to make sure it never happens again. That’s the argument, anyway. Why was the US attacked in the first place? The CIA calls it “blowback,” or the unintended consequences of meddling in foreign countries’ affairs. Chalmers Johnson, a frequent media contributor, has written a book on this very subject, titled (you guessed it) Blowback. It’s well worth the read and outlines various terrorist campaigns against the US and the specific reasons the perpetrators had for carrying them out. This is not meant to excuse terrorist acts, which are heinous violent acts, but it is important to understand what is happening rather than cower under the bed while our men and women in uniform go off to fight the boogeyman.
Even if you reject the premise that 9/11 was blowback, there are logistical problems fighting a “War on Terror.” How do you go to war with a tactic? How do you define victory? How do you measure losses vs. gains? What if invading other countries and drone-bombing their children actually causes more resentment for the US, and therefore more terrorism? I have not heard any good answers to these questions.
Maybe the biggest hypocrisy in the Republican Party is the following: Republicans claim that they are in favor of small government but they neglect to mention the second biggest government program of all: the military industrial complex. Why do you reject President Eisenhower’s warning? Even without the endless wars, is the US military beyond criticism? Is there not one single place where we can trim the fat off the military budget or improve protocol? One hundred percent of veterans with whom I’ve discussed this issue can name at least one area in which the military is extremely wasteful of taxpayer money and/or supplies. The long time veterans can name several.
Wasting the resources of the American taxpayers and creating enemies overseas with acts of aggression do not promote a strong national defense. If anything, they make us less safe.
Friend to Small Business?
Most small business owners, though not necessarily Republicans, are fiscally conservative. It comes with the territory. In order for a business to grow in the marketplace, it must conserve its resources (labor, finances, and physical goods) and use them wisely to turn a profit. The business must bring in more money than it spends. This is Economics 101, and even young children understand it. The Republican leadership claims to be a friend of small business, and the more fiscally conservative of the two major parties. Again, this is untrue. When was the last time a Republican president shrank the national deficit, national debt, or oversaw spending cuts? (Answer: never.) When was the last time a federal Republican Congressman or Senator (other than Ron Paul) spoke out against Social Security and/or Medicare? These are the largest and third-largest spending items in the federal budget, and the businesses hit hardest by them are the small businesses. Often, small businesses won’t hire new workers because of the burdensome taxes associated with hiring a new employee. Large corporations can absorb these costs; small businesses often cannot. The reason you won’t hear any politicians from any party speak out against them is because to do so is political suicide. The elderly population collects these entitlements and they vote the most often.
Again, some defenders of the Republican Party may agree with me, but say the Republicans have just lost their way and need to get back to the party’s roots. This is wrong. Again, since the beginning of the GOP, it has doled out favors to large corporations (read the history of the railroads, United Fruit Company, and Standard Oil for a few examples), been in favor of protectionist (anti-free market) tariffs, and war.
The Republican Party likes to spend money on the same things as the Democrats, but the Republicans do so with deficit spending instead of raising taxes. As bad as higher taxes are for small business, deficit spending is actually much worse in the long run because it comes with interest payments.
The Republican Party champions itself as the party of states’ rights, limited government, strong national defense, and the free market. These are all admirable ideals, but the Republican Party fails to align itself with even one of them. This essay is not meant to be a dissertation on the history or principles of the GOP, but rather an overview for recovering and pre-recovering Republican voters. Don’t take my word on anything I’ve written; if you are interested in the points I bring up, the information is readily available. It is also not meant to be an attack on Republican voters, but rather a plea for them to examine their beliefs and values. Does your party represent the values you hold dear? Do your leaders represent you? Sadly, I think the answer is an obvious “no.”
Next: The Democrats
Reject Your Political Party Series
A Disclaimer About My Politics
Thanks for reading this post, I hope I challenged you in some way. Agree with me? That’s cool. Disagree? Even better. I’m just a random guy on the internet, voicing his opinion (at the time of writing this blog post – check the date; opinions change as more facts and experience are gathered). But imagine if I had the political power and will to force you to agree with me! That would be terrible, and that’s the point of voluntarism and non-aggression. You should not be forced to agree with me. Please extend me the same courtesy.
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.” -Larry Hardiman
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- Leaders vs. Rulers
- Libertarianism is Better Than Progressivism
- Why I Do Not Vote (And Neither Should You)
- The Traffic Court Swindle
- Top Five Reasons I Don’t Argue Politics on Social Media
- Why Meaningful Debate is Impossible
- Dos and Do Nots for the Liberty Minded
- “There ought to be a law…”
- A Defense of Fugitive Slaves
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