After my article yesterday, which laid out what I believe are the basic principles that would lead to a Republican revival in California, I thought I should flesh out how those principles translate into every day political and policy making decisions. Of course, policy making is the stuff of legislation. Politics is explaining the policy making process to voters in a way that persuades the voters, over time, to entrust Republicans with power. The two have to work together. If those in policy making positions are constantly playing politics, that is, constantly trying to appeal to voters to entrust them with power, the voters will grow cynical, thinking they are being used. If a policy maker, however, only focuses on policy making, no one ever knows enough about what he or she is doing to be able to make an informed decision about whether to entrust that policy maker with power. Politics without principled policy making is a bankrupt power grab. Policy making without politics is an exercise in futility.
So, that being said, how can Republicans change the course of California? I want to do a series of articles breaking down how I believe the principled advocacy of liberty can translate into political good will among the voters. Policy making, in this context is votes, that is, how Republicans actually vote and act in the Legislature. Politics is how they advocate the principles of liberty in the media and to the voters in the state. This article will be about how I think Republicans ought to address the question of government in our society.
There is always a good excuse for big government. Got a problem? The advocates of big government can always come up with a program to address it. No one likes bullying, but do we need the government to spend millions of dollars on commercials saying it is bad? Everyone wants good health care, but do we need government to make sure everyone gets it? Pick a government program, anyone can come up with a reason for it to exist, and make those who oppose the program look bad. Republicans should oppose it anyway.
In my experience, most budget negotiations go like this. Democrats want more welfare and education spending. Republicans want more spending on transportation and public safety. The compromise? Spend more on both. As a result, government spending continues to rise inexorably toward government bankruptcy (In Congress, Democrats want more spending on welfare and education, Republicans want more on national defense and transportation, outcome the same). The only way to save any of the programs is simply to stop spending, on everything.
Voters will forgive Republicans on individual programs, if they are consistent on all of them. A campaign against public debt (whether it is bonds at the state level, or the deficit at the national level) requires Republicans to stop the spending, even on projects they like (pork in a Republican district is as bad as pork in a Democrat district, no matter what it is spent on). Republicans should oppose spending increases, and advocate for spending cuts, in all government programs all the time. Yes, there will be a short term price to pay, but once the principles become obvious, voters will begin to trust Republicans.
I once caught some heat on the floor of the legislature for advocating that the state cut all health care programs for which the state did not receive a federal subsidy. Of course, the big ticket items in that area were free health care for illegals and unrestricted payments for abortions. It turns out that state also paid for funerals for the poor, for which there was no federal subsidy. Guess what the Democrats focused on? Voters, however, got it, because it was a consistent position, pursued to bring the state back to fiscal sanity. People will get it, as long as the positions are consistent. That means, no debt for anything, not defense, not public safety, not welfare, not education, nothing.
That means oppose increased spending on all government programs all the time, no matter how good the program sounds. I have seen a lot of Republicans come out in the Legislature for this or that program, all of which are designed to increase government spending for something they think will gain them some sort of political constituency. That is a trap, and a fool’s game. Republicans cannot outspend Democrats on anything, and they shouldn’t try. They should oppose all spending increases, and advocate for cuts, in all programs, all the time.
Does that mean Republicans have to be vocal at every minute in their opposition to spending increases, or advocacy of cuts? No, but their votes must be consistent. No one is going to know how any one legislator voted on any one of 4,000 bills in a year. The rule is easy, if spending increases, vote no. More important, NEVER, that is NEVER, speak out publicly for increased spending on ANYTHING! In the end, Republicans will only end up disappointing the spending lobby they are trying to court, and ultimately lose the trust of the voters they need to obtain power. The principled advocacy of liberty, which is the Republicans key to political power in California, is to oppose all increased government spending on all programs, no matter how enticing they sound, all the time.