On The Refinery this week, we shared some of our New Year’s Resolutions for the Conservative Movement. We had a great discussion about things we want to do better in 2015, but the thing I think we spent the most time on was ‘Remember Who The Real Enemy Is’. That was due to this Daily Beast article ‘Red Tape Is Strangling Good Samaritans’. It you haven’t read it, stop now and read through it, and then come back here.
Are you shocked? Are you angry? You ought to be. So what now?
My friend Kelly shared the article on her page, and her comments about a spiritual battle started me thinking. Pretty soon I ate up the page with my thoughts, then realized I’d better get them over here on FRN because, well, hey, I have a place to put that stuff.
So by way of talking about the New Year and what I believe we can do to win (continue winning, actually), here is one thing ALL OF US can do to work towards smaller government.
I agree with those who think we have a spiritual battle on our hands – the more self-governance a person possesses, the less he NEEDS government to do it for him. Whether one finds that self-governance through religion or some other force, I think it’s true that people with good impulse control and self-command don’t usually require a ton of laws, nor the people to enforce it. This is why so many people, I think, believe that ‘if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about’. Misguided, but understandable.
All that said, the creation of a country and society plagued by this number of laws, rules, and regulations has come about through people wanting a ‘fix’ for everything, and for government not just to secure our rights and the ability to pursue our happiness, but a government they want to put in place to guarantee nothing bad (or as little bad as possible) ever happens to people. It’s the belief that mankind (society, this planet) can ever be perfected. Sure, we improve in some ways, no doubt about that. But we also say quite often that we want to go back to a time when people were better. Or behaved better anyway.
The key here, I think, is to focus on building vast support from the public (some of whom have often been in the ‘There Ought To Be A Law’ camp) for the idea that we’ve made so many laws that people aren’t allowed to exercise their good judgment. We ought to be making the case that this much regulation is KILLING PEOPLE, all in the name of avoiding lawsuits, doing things by the book, and ‘following the law’. Unlike the Control Freaks (many, but not all, on the left) who assume they know what’s best for everyone (whether in health care, education, diet or what have you), conservatives ought to be telling people that they are smart enough to decide for themselves.
The idea is to create a culture of serious skepticism of new laws and a weariness with the abundance of existing laws, to the point where the general public (not just politically-active libertarians or conservatives) is calling for rolling back or repealing a lot of nasty little regulations, and retiring the nasty little regulators with them. This makes room for the idea once again that people usually know what’s best for themselves, and shouldn’t be shackled but empowered. That will enable us to get even more regulations tossed, but also build a resistance against future Regulatory Armies.
So the way I think it works is this: we highlight cases like the one in the article about the school teachers unable to call 911. NOBODY thinks that’s a good policy except the administration who are afraid of how their statistics look. We keep doing that every time we see something like it. We look for where government wants to outlaw (or make extremely difficult) using common sense. And we find a way to sell EVERY POLICY we propose (from rolling back regulations to forcing the president to veto bills we want) using the words ‘common sense’ and ‘eliminate red tape’ and ‘end bureaucracy’. Pretty soon, everything the Control Freaks try to do, the public will be saying (at our prompting) ‘Why would they want to do THAT? It makes no sense!’
Once we have the public conditioned to be skeptical, once we have them questioning new laws and policy proposals; once we have them trained to talk in terms of ‘it’s just common sense’ (to end fraud and waste and abuse in the ________ system, to repeal onerous provisions of Obamacare, to require ID to vote etc) then the Control Freaks will have a far harder time gaining power anymore. Sure, there are people who will still do stupid things, but there will also be fewer people who demand there be a law to stop them doing them, especially when people’s definitions of ‘stupid’ vary so much. As Andy and Cori Peth from The Party Of Choice always say – ‘I don’t want my preferences to become your laws.’ THAT’S the spirit we need to cultivate in 2015 among conservatives, and then conservatives should sell that to everybody.
I hope that you’ll start finding and sharing those stories, talking about the Regulatory Blob and how it’s literally killing people, and helping create that culture of skepticism. And if you need help learning how to phrase things, spend some time with The Part of Choice at their website or on their You Tube channel. Learning how to find the element of CONTROL in everything about the left, and then contrasting that with CHOICE from the right, will go a long way towards long term victories – not just for the conservative movement, but for the whole country.
Happy New Year!
* The phrase ‘Happy New Year’ is intended as a wish of goodwill and a suggestion that happiness might be pursued therein, and is in no way to be construed as a guarantee; the author makes no warrants as to the quality of happiness the reader is to find in the new year.