Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reagan would be happy

There is a lot of talk lately of media pundits and bloggers that conservatism is dead. I would like to contend this could not be further from the truth.

It is true that some republicans have made some bad decisions in the past few years that put the party out of favor in the polls. But it was not because the party was too conservative.

About a year ago the cover of Time magazine had a picture of Reagan with a tear running down his cheek. The message was Time they believed Reagan would be unhappy because his conservative movement was voted out of Congress with the republicans during the midterm election in 2006.

His adapted son, Michael Reagan, said that is hog wash. He said his dad would be happy. He would be happy because the conservative movement is going strong. Proof of this is that the democrats won the 2006 midterm elections not because they ran as liberals, but because they ran to the right of republicans -- they ran as conservatives.

Sure Americans feel gloomy about the war, but that doesn’t mean they want to lose.

Reagan would not be crying. Repubs lost in 2006 not because they were getting too close to Reagan’s conservative ideals, but because they were getting too far away.

Conservatism wins elections. A good candidate who is conservative nearly always beats a good liberal candidate. Why else do you think Obama and McCain are not honest with their liberal views.

A good example is George McGovern who ran twice against Nixon as an anti-war liberal, and Walter Mondale who ran with the platform that he would raise taxes, and John Kerry who ran on an anti-war liberal agenda.

Of course Barry Goldwater lost, but that was because the democratic candidate did a better job of using the new media of the time. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and George W. Bush all won running as conservatives. Bill Clinton won twice running as a conservative democrat, even though he turned into a liberal as soon as he was elected, and neither Bush governed as a Conservative either despite running as one.

Yes, Bill Clinton ran as moderate. To win an election, democrats have to run as conservatives, and republicans have to prove that they really are conservative. Dole failed. Gore was too liberal, and so was Kerry.

And this is why Conservative republicans worry about McCain's chances of winning. But, then again, he is far more conservative than Obama, who is running to the left of McGovern.

Why is this? It’s because Americans love traditional American ideals. They are scared of all the things liberalism is forcing on them like abortion, activism, judges forcing their views, increased taxes. People are afraid that some day soon they’ll go to the corner market, the bank and the post office and no one will speak their language.

High taxes and increased government programs are created because liberals want control of your money. They don’t trust what you might do with it. They don’t trust you.

Conservatives believe you are smart and can manage your money better than big government can. When you have money left over, after taxes, you save and invest. Businesses save and invest in new equipment, new buildings, and, as a result, hire more workers.

When there is a problem, say there are too many poor, liberals say, “Where did the Federal government go wrong. Do we not offer enough help? Do we not create enough jobs? Do we not tax the rich enough?” On the other hand, conservatives say, “That person has access to a free government education, there’s an array of help wanted signs all down the street, that person chose not to take advantage of what America offers.”

Liberals think government is the solution to all problems, yet their government programs keep making the problems worse. They want to take money from the hard working people and give it to the poor. If that worked, poverty would have been solved when Robin Hood was written.

Conservatives believe the way to solve poverty is through the individual. You have the power to improve your lot in life. America has created opportunities for you, now it’s up to you to take advantage of it. It’s via this traditional American ideal that America has prospered. Liberals want to take that away.

Therefore, decreased taxes on the rich creates jobs. The top 50% pay 98.5% of all the taxes, so yes, the rich will get tax cuts. It’s economics 101.. The rich and upper middle class are not stupid. If you raise their taxes they will not create jobs. They will not invest in new equipment and new buildings when government is increasing taxes because they do not want to pay the taxes. It’s that simple.

Here’s a good example. In the late 1980s the government increased taxes on luxury items in order to get more money from the rich. What happened is the rich simply stopped buying luxury items. The government ended up making less money after the tax increase and had to rescind the bill.

Once the tax was back to where it was, the rich started buying luxury items again.

The same happens with income taxes. When you increase taxes, you will have a temporary hike in dollars into the government. But, as Jimmy Carter well knows, as taxes go up, as government spending goes up, as wasteful government programs go up, as government regulations go up, the economy ultimately tanks. Or, you might say, it reaches the point of no return.

The people feel the pain.

The people want the country run as they would run their houses. They are willing to make sacrifices when the economy is slow; they are willing to cut spending when economy is slow. And when the economy is going good they want to save and invest, so that when it’s slow again they don’t have to scrap for money.

They except nothing less from the government.

So, when the American public voted a republican congress that did nothing to stifle a growing government out of office, Ronald Reagan would be smiling. However, the democratic Congress has yet to do anything conservative to warrant that vote.

Despite this, Ronald Reagan would be smiling today. Time magazine got it wrong.


Anthony Palmer said...


I agree with what you say in principle, but wonder where you draw the line between personal accountability and compassion for your fellow man.

Consider the flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest right now. Those people chose to live near rivers that flood and in areas that are prone to tornadoes. And now their houses are underwater or are completely destroyed. Would a conservative say they should rebuild there at their own risk without any government assistance (FEMA), or should they receive help from the government to help them rebuild even though similar disasters may strike next year? Or should these neighborhoods receive the same treatment as the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and become ghost towns?

The main flaw I see with conservatism despite its logic is that when someone falls through the cracks, they become a drain on society and affect everyone. People who got into bad mortgages should have known better. But now they are helping to cause the housing sector to collapse. People who drop out of school should have known better. But when they become drug dealers or gangsters, that affects our entire community. So even though we shouldn't necessarily throw money and government programs at them, we can't necessarily leave them behind either. And liberals would argue that if we can afford to spend billions of dollars each week in Iraq, why can't we do that in poor rural and inner city neighborhoods in the United States?

One other thing--the liberal Michael Dukakis was routing George HW Bush until he received that question about the death penalty in the debate and gave a very cold and technocratic answer. And the liberal Al Gore was more popular among voters than the conservative George W Bush, who won the election based on the near-equivalent of superdelegates. So I'm not sure I agree that conservatism is that much more popular than liberalism. Even John Kerry was able to win 48% of the vote.

Freadom said...

When I was a kid, my dad did not bail me out every time I was in trouble. Sometimes I'd beg for help, and he'd make me figure my own solutions to my problems. By doing that, I developed character and have actually become a better person.

On a national level, natural disasters happen, people will make bad financial decisions, some people will be poor. And when the government bails all these people out what happens? They learn nothing. The fail to grow. They become dependent on the Fed. The continue to make bad financial decisions. They keep living in places that are prone to natural disasters.

My dad could have easily let me live with him until I was 38, but what would I be? I'd be dependant on mom and dad. I would be trapped under their house, just as many poeple are trapped on the governmet dole today. And I would expect sympathy from mom and dad every time I was in trouble, instead of finding my own solutions.

I think conservatism is stong today because people know that they took responsibility for their own lives, and see no reason why other shouldn't do the same. If you life in a bad neigborhood, move. If you can't find a job, move. If you live in an area prone to flooding, move.

At the same time, like you say, we need a govenrment that is responsible. We need to take care of the people who really need help, and help those on the government dole get off it. We need to do this via incentives, education and personal accountability, which is the basis of the conservative movement.

Conservatism is not just about republican and democrat, it's about America. Ronald Reagan was a conservative democrat before he became a conservative republican.

It's about values and principles, not about party.

Anthony Palmer said...


Forgive my use of hyperbole, but consider these ideas:

Nobody should live in Florida because it's prone to hurricanes. Walt Disney was foolish to choose Orlando as his amusement park site. And Miami made a big mistake by rebuilding after Hurricane Andrew.

Nobody should live in California because it's prone to earthquakes Silicon Valley is just going to have to relocate. And we should say adios to Los Angeles and San Diego as well. We don't want the San Andreas Fault to get the best of us, now do we?

Nobody should live in the Great Plains because that's Tornado Alley. Who's going to grow our corn and raise our cattle then?

Nobody should live in the Pacific Northwest because it's prone to mudslides. Any towns in the Cascades should be abandoned.

And nobody should live along rivers because they are prone to flooding. So, say goodbye to Memphis, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Louisville.

Nobody should ride motorcycles because they are dangerous. Harley Davidson and Kawasaki built their castles on shaky ground indeed.

Nobody should live in a house with a wooden frame. It will easily be damaged by a strong storm and can burn to the ground quite easily. If your house isn't made of stone, you need to move. People who work for the lumber industry should find a more stable sector of employment.

Nobody should drive a car without antilock brakes. Driving without ABS will make it easier for you to have an accident, so why take the risk? All cars without ABS should be taken off the market.

Nobody should play football because of the risk of injury and/or paralysis. If you're too stupid to play football, you shouldn't complain when you get hurt. If the Super Bowl is canceled because of a lack of players, we should understand. They're just trying to protect themselves.

In principle, personal accountability is a very good idea. I strongly agree with it. But I think there should be some level of partnership between the individual and the government. Individuals simply need help at times, and sometimes the government can be a better protector of the people than other individuals or private businesses can. (Think of Enron, for example.) Of course, people should not be habitually dependent on the government at all, but if the government had the attitude that "well, you're on your own because of personal accountability and because you should pull yourself up by your bootstraps" when taken to a high degree, a lot of people will fall through the cracks and that will drag our society down in general.

What is your opinion on conservative government intervention in "preserving moral values?" Or conservatives' defending spending billions of dollars in Iraq that could be spent at home? If personal accountability is good enough for us, shouldn't it be good enough for the Iraqis?

Freadom said...

Consider this point, if the U.S. government gave 500 billion dollars for every natural disaster, the Fed would be broke, and no one would get aid.

I don't think conservatives have a problem helping people out. I think all of us as Americans love helping people out. The problem is, how do we help people.

Liberals believe the Fed has all the answere. Conservatives believe the answer lies within the people. Who would you rather have solving your problems? The Fed, or your neighbors?

You know, I think that FEMA is a perfect example of how the Federal government fails the people. I think people would be better served by local governmental aides, as opposed to the Fed (FEMA).

Local people rely so much on the Fed, and then the Fed fails them. Is that the fault of conservatism, or the government?

Great discussion. I look forward to your response.

Anthony Palmer said...

Here's my interpretation:

Liberals think the government should provide a safety net for those who are most at risk.

Conservatives think the government should have as little influence as possible, so as to not trample on individual liberties.

Too much of either view is not healthy, IMO. But I personally wouldn't mind paying higher taxes if I knew my money was being spent to make society better in the long run.

And regarding FEMA, yes, FEMA failed regarding Katrina. But liberals were not managing FEMA when Katrina hit. Obviously, the local and state governments should have done a much better job, but the federal government, which was controlled entirely by conservative Republicans, also failed. And liberals had nothing to do with Brownie.

Clinton FEMA director James Lee Witt received good reviews for his service.

I think both approaches have merit, but proper management makes a big difference.

Freadom said...

I don't think that even a conservative would mind a government program, if a government program would run as smoothly and efficiently as a privately run program. However, Fed. programs have a history of not being run efficiently, i.e. FEMA, Soc. Sec, welfare, public schools, etc. All those programs are noble, and are needed, but would be much better run in the private sector, or by local and state governments, where the people running them would have something personal to lose should they fail at their jobs.

I think liberal tax and spend programs sell because they sound good, they make people feel like something is being done, but they keep failing over and over again. Yet, people keep wanting to go that route for some reason, instead of trying something different.

However, its hard to change that old mind set that taking from the rich will benefit the poor. Or that throwing more money at a failed program will fix it. You'd think if that worked, there would be no poor anymore. If that worked, we'd have the most educated kids in the world. There is more money being spend now under Bush on public schools than ever before, and our schools are still failing. Social security is expected to go bankrupt in a few years, yet elderly voters don't want to change it because they are afraid they will lose their benefits.

There was something I read lately, that if we keep up the same programs we have right now, with inflation, our taxes will have to be 50% by the year 2050. And everybody knows that liberals (republicans and demorcrat) want even more government programs, i.e. Obama's healthcare proposals and his promise to raise taxes.

What conservatives want is to help the people who need it at the lowest cost to those who are paying for it. And that's exactly how any privately run business stays in business.

On a side note, I agree with you that FEMA had a poorly chosen leader under Bush. However, I don't think FEMA failed because of who was running it (although that didn't help), it failed because it was a government beurocracy. There are simply too many people in the middle of problem and solution.

I think every person working for FEMA wanted to make it work. Yet they were doomed to fail. It would have happened under Bush or whomever was leading. As in 9-11, Bush simply was in the office when all our past government failures hit rock bottom.

I personally think a government as rich as ours should be able to help the truly poor get back on their feet, the sick find adequate care, to provide safe roads, national security, etc, just like liberals. The only difference is conservatives want to hold government accountable when it fails, while liberals want to keep funding these programs becaue it makes them feel good, whether the programs are working or not.

Anthony Palmer said...


I really appreciate the thoughtful way in which you discuss politics. You actually debate with people, rather than argue with them. And you don't make assertions without backing them up either. It's very mature and quite commendable. I don't know how well read this blog is, but I think you deserve a wider audience.

Freadom said...

Anthony: Thanks. That is exactly how I feel about your writing and your blog. Actually, I was thinking if you and I had more time, we could probably forge some kind of a compromise. I bet we could. Perhaps we'd even forge a McCain-Lieberman type friendship and everyone could hate us because niether of us is partisan enough.