HONOLULU, Aug. 18, 2015 – Benjamin Disraeli famously remarked to his father, “To govern men, you must either excel them in their accomplishments, or despise them.” Yes friends, it’s that problem again that we all have every four years in America: Republicans are tasked with choosing another presidential Dear Leader to govern us, and no GOP electoral fire drill can ever occur without absurd complaint ad nauseam.
For conservative newcomers to politics – many of whom may identify with the tea party movement – being a Republican candidate means facing the same complaints every election year from former H.W. Bush staffers no one’s ever heard of, GOP elites, news pundits, overpriced campaign consultants and straight-up armchair admirals.
If you should happen to be a supporter of a tea party candidate, you may or may not know how to respond to these “common objections” by GOP apparatchik that arise on social media, by your office water cooler, at family meetings or at your favorite happy hour destination whenever politics rears its ugly head. If you’re not careful in these situations, you might even fall for their talking points. Don’t fret though, because here we will dissect every predictable pejorative, snarky, baseless complaint raised by Establishment surrogates so that you can vote and recruit others for your candidate with confidence.
1. “Why would you want to elect someone without any executive experience? A governor is used to running a state and a Wall Street CEO is adept at running a business; they’re the ones that can really turn around America.”
The core pillar of every successful lie is that it must contain at least some truth to stick to people. The Executive Branch should be run by someone who knows how to get things done, so who better to be “the Decider” than a former executive officer, right? This is an area where Establishment GOP candidates appear to have an advantage over outsider conservatives, because more often than not, the post-Cold War mainstream Republican candidate hails from either a corporate background or a state governorship (or, in some cases, both).
The argument that CEOs or governors are “turn around America” messiahs falls apart, however, when you identify first what’s wrong with our country and second what either a businessman or state executive is trained to do. At the core of nearly every major presenting problem (resource scarcity, immigration, unemployment, cost of living, terrorism, weakening military, etc.) are root problems like currency debasement/inflation, lopsided trade agreements and preferential legislation/regulatory regimes – all of which help multinational corporations make large profits (often at the expense of individuals) and, at the state level, often subsidize electoral coalitions necessary to win costly elections.
With respect to profit-making, over the course of time in a free market, profits can be expected to flatten and diminish as a result of market optimization’s seeking equilibrium. Further, if the total supply of money stock in a market remains unchanged, eventually there will be no profits at all. Profits arise from market instability, not stability. In fact, you might have already noticed that the worse our government and economy get, the larger the profits Wall Street makes.
As Ludwig von Mises explains in “Human Action,” “Profit is not related to or dependent on the amount of capital employed by the entrepreneur. Capital does not ‘beget’ profit. Profit and loss are entirely determined by the success or failure of the entrepreneur to adjust production to the demand of the consumers.” Consumers, like markets, seek equilibrium. There are times when people simply stop consuming. The reason so many modern CEOs tend to support left-leaning or socialist polices is that history has shown government to be the most effective human tool for creating the kind of instability that allows opportunistic individuals and companies to profit from consumers.
Government’s “toolbox” of subsidy, taxation, regulation and warfare all disrupt market equilibrium. Laws, rules and taxes are not neutral devices; they are market agenda-setting tools. Things like city parking meters, fishing licenses and gun registration are not about public benefit or public safety; they are entirely about artificially manipulating consumer behavior. Both corporations and state executives know this practice well and ultimately — no matter what ideological label they assign to themselves — are willing to do whatever is necessary to either make money for themselves or keep the lights on at the Capitol. That doesn’t turn around America, that’s “business” as usual for those in business to run America into the ground.
While it is inevitable that government will always exist in some form, the degree to which a republic’s citizens limit the powers of government is key. More government planning means more corporate determinism and less individual autonomy. If the object this 2016 election is to shrink the size of the U.S. government, reduce taxation, increase individual property ownership and restore constitutional checks, putting a CEO or governor into office is probably the absolute worst decision imaginable.
Even if you’re a “national security conservative” who plans to vote solely on issues like secure the border, defeat ISIS, win the arms race against China, a CEO or governor with “executive experience” doesn’t translate automatically to a superior military commander-in-chief. The most successful CEOs are by nature bean counters, which means that they will likely shrink the military’s capabilities and increase the workload on less forces, leaving America bereft of a redundant, secured second-strike capability should we be hit with a crippling first-strike attack.
In the case of governors, most state executives’ “military” experience stems from overseeing the “public safety” units — National Guard or state police forces — in times of disaster or public unrest. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, public safety is not the same thing as national security experience or, more to the point, command of a combat organization as a line officer. Governors know the domestic value of using paramilitary units in crisis situations but have never learned the danger of deploying forces that a true military commander learns overseas.
The end result of this is that to a former state governor, FHA/FDR (foreign humanitarian assistance/foreign disaster relief) and other military operations other than war are, to them, no different than sending the National Guard to “help out” on Main Street back home. The United States military is currently over deployed, thin stretched, and “advising” far too many foreign states abroad to be effective in defending the homeland. The last thing America needs is a hyperactive military do-gooder who hasn’t learned the lessons of war.
As father of the nuclear navy, Admiral Hyman Rickover once said, “They all have excellent resumes … So what I’m trying to find out is how they will behave under pressure. Will they lie, or bluff or panic or wilt? Or will they continue to function with some modicum of competence and integrity?”
When Republicans tell me that their candidate is superior because they have “executive experience” because they worked at Giant Corporation Inc. or was governor of Some East Coast State, I just laugh. Executive experience? More like the wrong kind of experience. I’ll credit the GOP with running blue chips “executive experience” candidates when they run a retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs, NASA shuttle command pilot or an infantry division commander for president. Until then, you RINOs can keep your “executive” candidates.
2. “All the other candidates are too extreme. We need a moderate to appeal to independents. Remember, the goal of the election is to win the White House with a Republican.”
This one’s my favorite. This would be a good argument if it weren’t for the fact that the majority of ordinary Americans don’t actually think this way. What is shocking is that the corporate styled GOP doesn’t actually have any basic marketing acumen to know that voters aren’t looking for points of parity in an election, they’re looking for points of differentiation. The more a Republican reminds voters of a Democrat, the more they’ll just vote Democrat.
The opportunity cost of choosing a political minority — liberal Republican with no government agenda setting power – versus continuing to vote for an established, hardcore liberal majority with power to assign favors at will is too great. Voters would rather have an unabashed conservative or a die-hard liberal, but shun lukewarm Republicans.
3. “We’re the Party of Lincoln. We need candidates who can get things done.”
There’s a great scene in the Arthur C. Clarke inspired science fiction movie “2010: the Year We Make Contact where the chairman of the aerospace agency says, “Whenever a president is gonna get us in serious trouble, they always use Lincoln.” That’s a keeper for your quote collection and a perfect caveat for the modern Republican Party. Any time that someone says they’re part of the Party of Lincoln, you can almost certainly be sure that they fall on the RINO side of the Republican zoo. What they are really saying when they invoke Lincoln is that they want a candidate/party organization who will tell you what to do, make you do it even if you don’t like it and then use purported ideological righteousness to justify their actions.
America doesn’t need the Party of Lincoln to start new conflicts or put America in lockdown. Lincoln is the president of “executive actions” and ends justifying all means in times of crisis. The leadership necessary for America today is one that voluntarily submits to constitutional restrictions, that will not sacrifice futures on the altar of the immediate, that will choose history’s greatest title of peacemaker over conqueror. American exceptionalism comes when leaders know the distinction between the “I” and the “we” spheres of destiny and know when to step back from control. We get into trouble when presidents paradoxically suspend the free market to save the market, start wars to stop wars and do all sorts of other behaviors deemed “presidential” by mainstream GOP.
In one of the short stories featured in my new novel “American Kiss,” a fighter pilot headed to a dangerous mission bemoans such people, warning, “From my experience operations planners are often individuals with big visions and a cruel, Wall Street-like calculus … They entertain their egos by pulling people dramatically into corners and saying in grave, gruff voices, ‘Ask yourself. How many men are you willing to sacrifice in order to protect this nation?’ or ‘I have this job because I have the will to do what’s right for the country.’ These are the kind of people who, when cornered on mistakes that caused needless deaths, say things like ‘They knew the risks when they signed up’ as a means of self-absolution. These are the people who say things like ‘Life isn’t fair’ and expect exemptions from rules they demand others submit unconditionally to without reservation.”
I often wonder if insider Republicans are from Rasalhague from the out-of-touch attitude they engage conservatives and general voters with. One of the greatest weaknesses of the Establishment GOP in recent years is their determinalistic belief that their “strength” must rule America’s destiny. Anyone can be “the Decider” and most, if not all, are allured by the temptation to make decisions for others. That’s not what America needs. The more the government gets things done, the less freedom the citizens have. Americans don’t need to be told what to do, they don’t need to be “pointed in the right direction” or even managed, they just need to have the space to live their lives.
4. “Your candidate doesn’t have a chance.”
I’ve never understood the utility of telling people that their preferred candidate doesn’t have a chance, especially when one is self-assured of the certainty of victory. Whenever people say “you don’t have a chance” what they’re really thinking is “you better quit now, before you make me sweat!”
The Establishment GOP may yet again succeed in suppressing conservatives and putting a liberal, big government candidate on the 2016 ballot. But … maybe they won’t succeed. My analysis of the direction that America is headed is that both the traditional Democrat and Republican power structures are being eroded, and a new takeover of America by outsiders is in full swing. Americans are tired of traditional solutions and are looking for radical departures from the norm, and this trend is clearly apparent in the candidates leading the polls in both parties.
Elections are are a science, but they are not a controlled experiment. No matter how much money is spent, no matter how many operatives work campaigns, no matter how much talking points are spewed from “mainstream” media, shockers can always happen. While the United States of America has devolved into an oligarchical system, the current system is nowhere near as “static” as regimes in Eastern Europe and Central America, which saw sudden paradigm shifts deemed impossible.
Remember, all it takes sometimes is for a “competent” person to make an incompetent mistake for things to shift. The Republicans and Democrats are all counting on their apparatchik superstars to never make a mistake, but they’ve already made the mistake of underestimating America’s anger.
This election will be one for the history books, and more than likely, a tea party candidate will sweep the nation in 2016. Impossible? Never say never.
This is Part Two of a series exploring the long-term intellectual, cultural, political and economic implications of U.S. decline as explored in Dr. Danny de Gracia’s new novel, “American Kiss.”
Dr. de Gracia is a political scientist, an ordained minister, a former elected official and the author of the new political thriller “American Kiss,” available now from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other major bookstores. DISCLOSURE: Danny de Gracia is an elected Republican district chairman, but his opinions are expressly his own and do not reflect the official opinion of any organization.