How Washington Turns Conservatives into Liberals: By making Them “Bring Home the Bacon”: Branehart Blog
How Washington Turns Conservatives into Liberals: By making Them “Bring Home the Bacon”
In politics anger is now the word of the day. Disillusioned conservative voters are furious at the so-called Republican establishment, which since Reagan has nominated a string of RINOs – H.W. Bush, Dole, W. Bush, McCain and Romney. All of them lost the popular vote for President at least once (though W. Bush won the Electoral College thanks to the genius of Bill Clinton costing Al Gore Florida by deporting Elian Gonzalez to Cuba the summer before the 2000 election). In response voters turned Congress overwhelmingly Republican in 2010 and 2014 and now are backing so-called non-establishment candidates for President, with little (in the case of Ted Cruz) or no political experience (like Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump) in Washington. And conservative activists forced Republican House Speaker John Boehner to resign because he wasn’t delivering the results they wanted.
As to why this is happening, Rush Limbaugh has said repeatedly that voters want conservatism but chronically aren’t being given what they’re asking for. They’re repeatedly voting for Republicans who say they want to shrink the size of the government and cut spending and regulations, and then once they get to Washington… it doesn’t happen. For years majorities of voters have screamed that they hate Obamacare and have been told by candidates that they will try to “repeal and replace” it, yet it never happens; health care continues to become less and less available while insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, and horribly people even die needlessly waiting for care (e.g., Linda Rolain of Las Vegas). And voters want the deficit spending to end, but Republicans keep caving in to President Obama and approving budgets that spend ever greater amounts of money.
Clearly Washington D.C. is being insubordinate to its bosses, the taxpayers. Yet why is this happening? Why does our federal government, on both sides of the aisle and despite all the popular opposition, continue to govern against the will of those it governs? Because once those elected get to D.C., they are taught that what they need to do to stay in power is to bring home the bacon.
Bringing home the bacon means doing what the elected officials’ largest political donors (known derisively as “special interests”, as opposed to the general interest of the public) want done, whether it’s passing regulations that will help them and/or hurt their competition, or securing funding for programs they want. The money these donors provide is essential to the officials’ reelection efforts, so these donors always have their ear. For example Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat, regularly ‘brings home the bacon’ for the casino industry there, making sure that the regulations the casinos want get passed and ones they don’t want don’t get passed. Many legislators in West Virginia and Kentucky have similar relationships with the coal industry and many in Michigan have them with the auto industry. The petroleum industry donates heavily to officials in Texas, Alaska, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Etc.
To some extent this is unavoidable because political campaigns cost money. And it’s also true that, when Washington doles out money, it’s our money it’s doling out – and we want it back. So to get it back, as many of us as can afford to lobby Washington do so to get it back. But when it comes back, it does so with the strings Washington wants attached to it. To make sure we like those strings, we lobby for the strings also. This leads to a war of anyone against everyone else to get control of the coercive power of the federal government to feather their own nests.
Bringing home the bacon for a particular elected official’s biggest donors very often involves deal-making with other elected officials, often with opposing agendas, to get them to vote for what he wants in exchange for voting for what they want. Because of this, for both liberals and conservatives to ‘bring home the bacon’, their agendas get watered down as they go on record periodically supporting things that go against their beliefs and which are opposed vehemently by a large number of their constituents.
None of this is really new or troublesome in and of itself. In fact, this is the way government has run the country virtually forever, and we’ve still survived and thrived as a nation. What is extremely troublesome, though, is how in recent decades the process of ‘bringing home the bacon’ has been commandeered by liberal intellectuals, who act covertly by calling themselves “consultants”.
The “consultants” are people in Washington who act as advisors to elected officials, particularly newly elected ones who don’t know yet how to obtain the support they need to get legislation passed. Although they claim to be “non-partisan” and work for both parties, the “consultants” are actually overwhelmingly on the side of liberals. Many of them are university professors and their cronies who hate America and want to see our freedom, prosperity and exceptionalism destroyed. In my post “The History of Thinking in Western History” (November 2015) I explain how American academia is currently in a non-thinking trend following the anti-thinking philosophical ideas of German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and hates countries and cultures, including the United States, which are based on thinking.
According to Douglas Brunt, author of the political novel The Means, the partisan divide among Americans is strong outside of Washington but not in it. Inside the Beltway consultants on opposing sides regularly meet to plan strategies, compare notes – and talk out of two sides of their mouths. A consultant can tell Democrats to stand firm and never back down, and to go on the offensive against Republicans who won’t support them in bringing their legislation up for a vote for being “divisive”, “extremist” and “obstructionist”. The same consultant, can then turn around and tell Republicans to “compromise” and “work with the other side”, etc. If the Republicans fail to do so, the consultants warn, they will not be able to get enough support –either from their own side or the Democrats- to pass their ‘bring home the bacon’ legislation. With no intellectual voices in Washington to listen to in opposition to this line of reasoning, Republicans become scared – and mentally feel they have no choice but to back down and cave in.
Lately the situation has become far worse. Consultants regularly tell Republicans that they will bring home no bacon if they try to force President Obama to veto a bill repealing Obamacare, which is basically bacon brought home for the health insurance industry. They tell them they will be called racists in their home states and districts – and that their donors might even be exposed and smeared – if they don’t agree to the President’s spending plans.
How do we fight back against this?
Term limits are a start; not a cure, but a start. What term limits can do is stop officials from becoming entrenched in Washington as hired guns for special interests, the way Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi (for San Francisco food producers) and Jim Wright (for Texas automakers) have. Term limits have helped keep presidents since FDR from becoming long-term imperial dictators; for members of Congress they may be able to do the same.
But more is needed… Conservatives need their own intellectual ‘consultant’ class who will counter the liberals’ control over the agenda. Instead of allowing the Democrats to get away with saying to Republicans “you get nothing if you oppose Obamacare”, for example, we need Republicans to be able to tell Democrats that they get nothing if they don’t oppose it. Or they get nothing if they don’t want to cut spending or lower taxes.
Yet, even this is not the ultimate goal. The goal for the Republicans needs to be a new attitude towards bringing home the bacon. That attitude must be that laws should be enforceable but regulations should not be.
In my post, “But Don’t Businesses Need to be “Regulated”?” (May 2015), I explain the difference between proper laws, which are binding rules designed to protect individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness; and regulations, which are rules that have nothing to do with the protection of rights but rather are lobbied for by special interests to turn governments into their own hired guns to reward themselves and/or punish their competition. Rules against theft, kidnapping, homicide and fraud – both civil and criminal – are proper laws that protect rights and that should be enforceable. In contrast, rules compelling people or businesses to buy health insurance or auto insurance or contribute to funds for employee’s benefits, or pay a minimum wage or prohibiting breeding orcas in captivity or requiring the catering of a gay wedding or the hiring of a certain percentage of black or Hispanic or liberal employees in the name of ‘diversity’, or any other rule in the sickening myriad of regulations that burden everyone, are not proper laws. (For the nature of individual rights and the proper role of government in protecting them, see my post “The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights” (September 2015)).
Regulations are as problematic as they are because governments go on fishing expeditions to enforce them, using even the slightest violation as leverage for a rights-violating shakedown. You don’t cater a gay wedding? You’re fined $130,000 and are forced out of business. Toilet paper in the restaurant’s restrooms a quarter-of-an-inch wider than regulations allow? $500 fine per day the violation persists and up to five years’ imprisonment upon conviction… and on and on.
My solution to this: regulations should be unenforceable. Refuse to cater a gay wedding and someone doesn’t like it? They can complain all they like but they can’t prosecute, since no violations of rights have occurred… and the government can’t prosecute on its own, either. If a business kills or kidnaps someone, steals his property or defrauds him, that’s one thing – but if it simply refuses to associate with him such as by refusing to cater his wedding, that’s definitely another. Refuse to buy health insurance? The IRS should have no ability to do anything to you. Etc.
Of course, if someone could show that a particular regulation does protect rights to life, liberty, or property and he has suffered a violation of such a right, by all means he should be able to sue or press charges. But this is not what is done with regulations; rather, they are for the aforementioned purpose of providing leverage to a government for shaking down politically incorrect individuals and businesses regardless of whether an actual violation of rights has occurred.
Making regulations unenforceable would take away the incentive of special interests to turn the officials they donate to into their own hired guns to force their will on everyone. Elected officials would be free to do their proper job; pass laws that protect individual rights, then they won’t get sidetracked into ‘bringing home the bacon’.