Posts tagged Sarah Palin

Column on Tea Party Strategy Anyone?

Tea Party Strategy Anyone?

Tibor R. Machan

My involvement in Tea Party matters is virtually nil. I follow the movement’s doings by reading both pro and con comments on its candidates and leaders, as well as listening to what some of the active members say in public forums. (Let me tell you the snooty Left is scared stiff of the Tea Party and rolling out its heavy guns to demean it, with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin serving as convenient targets whose lack of academic erudition is held against them in massive articles in prominent magazines like The New Republic and The New York Review of Books!)

As far as I can determine, the Tea Party is a kind of Right Wing populist assembly of people who have disparate ideas and objectives but are united in being disgusted with the leadership in Washington. There is among them room for nearly anyone who shows a positive attitude about main street America. Social conservatives, especially, seem to be welcome, what with pretty heavy moralizing as their central pitch; free market champions, too, tend to be accepted but not if they are also committed civil libertarians who might stand up for illegal immigrants and oppose the vicious War and Drugs; certainly members of the religious Right are not only welcome but often take leadership roles; and there are others, including those loyal to the American Founders and their central documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. (Sometimes they express themselves in questionable terms, such as swearing loyalty to the U. S. Constitution; but that document is now so watered down, so far from the principles stated in the Declaration, that it scarcely says anything about what the country’s political system and public policies ought to be all about.)

I am no spin doctor and do not have my finger on the pulse of the electorate, although I do try to keep abreast. It occurs to me that if the Tea Party is to have a solid chance at influencing American politics and public policy it will have to pare down its message to certain fundamentals and express this publicly in palatable ways.

The one principle that is truly representative of America as the Founders conceived of it is limited government, limited by the principle of individual liberty. Perhaps turning to this message with a clear emphasis on not trying to impose anything else on the country could be successful. If a Tea Party candidate or leader is pressed for views on matters other than the proper scope of government, the answer should be: “No comment on that since it isn’t a part of politics proper, not in a free country!” Yes, it is judicious, prudent to simply refuse to get caught up in all the issues that people may bring to the political table by teaching the lesson that they really aren’t political, even if they are on the minds of millions of people.

Tea Party members, leaders, candidates and the like may well succeed by adhering to this strategy of not allowing their detractors to involve them in everything. They could point out that this country isn’t supposed to be a totalitarian system in which politics takes over everything, addresses all issues on the minds of the citizenry. No, one need not have an opinion on creationism, intelligent design, child reading, drug use, and yes, even abortion. Let most of these topics be part of our social discourse, not our political thinking. That way the central Tea Party theme of reigning in the scope of government is kept in focus and the pluralism of the movement can also continue to flourish but within its proper domain, namely, the variety of social positions the huge tent of those who love liberty makes possible.

Yes, this way of going about things might link the Tea Party too closely with its libertarian faction but that could be a political asset if intelligently put (during interviews, press conferences, etc.). Do not permit the detractors to draw Tea Party people into discussions about matters that are not the proper concern of politics and public affairs. Therein might lie a way to victory, especially now that suspicion with governmental meddling is rife throughout the citizenry.

And this attitude can easily be linked to the central, crucial tenets of the American political tradition, the founding documents and the thinking of the Founders. That they may not all be entirely palatable in our age will not matter if discussions and proposals are kept to essentials. What is exceptional about America is its limited government tradition and moving away from this is wrong, inefficient, and, yes, un-American.

My Palin Problem

My Palin Problem

Tibor R. Machan

I have always had problems voting. Not only have I been influenced by the likes of Professor Gordon Tullock about how ineffectual one’s vote tends to be but I have very rarely found any candidate who articulates clear and unambiguous principles of liberty to which he or she is fully committed, which in my view is the only way to gain justified trust from voters.

Recently I expressed my dismay about Sarah Palin, based mainly on my inability to find any sound political principles articulated by her. I simply wasn’t able to discover anything like a genuine American political philosophy or even ideology coming from the former Alaskan governor. When I pointed this out to a friend who considers her very promising, he listed for me a number of Palin’s achievements which, he believes, should lead me to change my mind. Here is what he identified as indications of Palin’s desirability for those who champion a fully free society:

* She sued the EPA for misusing the Endangered Species Act (no other governor has had the guts to do that)
* Advocated building nuclear power plants, clean coal and pipelines (all of them essential for energy independence and basic economic rationality)
* Came out against the punitive windfall tax on oil companies as a tax on investment.
* Approved of government subsidies only for market-proven alternative energies.
* Said publicly that global warming, even if true, is not anthropogenic.
* Spoke out forcefully and repeatedly in favor of free trade.
* Achieved 7% spending reduction as governor and instituted a hiring freeze.
* Vetoed half a billion of pork projects.
* Called for labor unions to ask permission from their members for political donations.
* Instituted an “ethics in government” reform which was opposed vigorously by the political establishment, left and right.
* Argued that adoption should be a state not a federal issue.
* Supported giving parents the right to opt out of school books they found offensive.
* Passed the most innovative energy bill of any state called the Alaska Gas Inducement Act including a 1715 mile gas pipeline to make available North Slope natural gas (currently being burnt) to the rest of the country.
* Advocated forcefully for drilling in ANWR and offshore waters.
* Opposed spousal benefits for same-sex couples, but vetoed bill denying benefits to gays as unconstitutional.
* Opposed setting up state boards on creationism despite her well-known views on creation.

Admittedly this is an impressive record of going against the current tied of relentless political correctness and bad piecemeal public policy. However, from the viewpoint of someone who believes in a very strict adherence to the principles of the American founding, those that restrict government to but on central task, namely, the securing of our basic (and derivative) individual rights, these achievements do not qualify someone as a dependable political candidate. To whit, there should be no EPA at all! Nuclear plants should be a private sector project, not something for government to mess with. Not only should there be no windfall taxes on oil companies and any tax on investments but the entire policy of extortion by taxation should be scrapped, just as another feudal institutions was, namely, serfdom. And so on and so forth. Every one of the policies listed above as Ms. Palin’s achievements is, as far as someone who is committed to a fully free society is concerned, but a small and uncertain step in the right direction with no full commitment to the free society in sight.

Of course, we live in a world in which advocating the kind of society that is built on the principles of the Declaration of Independence is hardly going to open the door to a political career. Instead it will not even get one on Fox TV, let alone any other mainstream media outfit from which one might champion one’s cause. But then so what? I have decided many moons ago to fight for a fully free society and not some compromise and half-way measure. At least some citizens must insist on the whole shebang, even if it be unrealistic and quite contrary to realpolitik. Others may well dedicate themselves to taking the small, gradual and admittedly needed steps toward such a socio-political system but one size doesn’t fit all. There needs to be at least a substantial number of citizens who insist on nothing but the best, which is a country in which society, including science, the arts, the economy, and so forth, are totally divorced from government (the job of which must be restricted to protecting our rights, period) and on politicians who fight for this, nothing less.

Then, of course, there is Ms. Palin’s very odd reported conviction that creationism is a position comparable to Darwinian evolutionary theory, which is blatantly false. She has said, “Teach both (evolution and intelligent design). You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.” As far as I am concerned, this is a regrettable aspect of the lady’s education and renders her intelligence suspect. But, admittedly, this is not directly relevant–one could be a Moonie or Pentecostalist and still be loyal to the principles of a free society. So I mention the matter only to come clean with my own response to the lady.

Bottom line is that I will stick to working on the best society and its numerous often complicated features and keep championing these and let others take care of the intermediate task of identifying and supporting close-but-no-cigar folks to carry the torch for a second or third best system.