Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Honest Government And Fiscal Responsibility

I just went back and looked at the contract with America. What were the promises of the contract?

On the first day of their majority, the Republicans promised to hold floor votes on eight reforms of government operations:
* require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress;
* select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
* cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
* limit the terms of all committee chairs;
* ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
* require committee meetings to be open to the public;
* require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
* and implement a zero base-line budgeting process for the annual Federal Budget.
It had not one social conservative plank. Nothing about gays, marriage, or abortion.

It was all about honest government and fiscal responsibility.

Let that be a lesson to you social conservatives who think enacting your favorite policies are an electoral winner. There is nothing wrong and much admirable about living with and adhering to those policies. There is a lot wrong with trying to enact them into law. It doesn't win votes.

The single most useful policy change to win back Americans is to give up Republican social policy planks. And do something to prove you are serious about it. Agitating to end the drug war for instance would be a very good sign to the electorate. It would show that sound policy, not belief, is the core of the Republican Party.


peter said...

I know people who rejected McCain this last election because the 'religious conservative' image of republicans blinded them to the disaster Obama would bring. In my observation, many social conservatives are content that government not take a stand against them. California prop 8 was specifically a reaction to what many saw as government acting against conservative values.

Donna said...

M. Simon--I share your sentiments on the Contract--but here's the situation:

The social conservative R's are the folks who go out and knock on doors, etc. The real workers who are highly motivated.
The rest of us are too busy just trying to make a buck or two and helping people we know need help--to do all that other heavy lifting for the party.

RavingDave said...

As others have noted, the social conservatives are necessary to win anything. The only looser aspect of the socially conservative positions is the fact that Virtually everyone who appears on television, (thereby shaping public opinion) Detests the social conservatives, and malign and mock them constantly.

The problem is that the Fourth estate = Fifth Column. You can say what you want about this or that aspect of Politics, but if the media had treated Barack Obama like John McCain, he would have been vaporized in the primaries.


broadcastboy said...

At first, I thought...insightful. However, it is remarkably shallow. Of course there were no social planks...the issues listed are strictly legislative issues dealing with the operation/conduct of government. One of the great misunderstandings of our time is that you cannot legislate morality. Yes you can and we do it with every single law on the books. Every law regulates some form of human behavior. The key to conservatism is understanding that there are principles, truths if you will, that guide and act as boundaries. Simply put, the GOP has lost favor because they have acted as, well many Democrats. They got power hungry and greedy. 2006 and last night was a reminder that people do like frauds. Dems are tax and spenders; expand government; redistribute wealth, etc. Behind President Bush the GOP has fallen in line. People want authenticity. They would rather have REAL libs than fake ones. Conservatism works. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is the best example today. Conservatives must stay the course and recapture the party. Mediocrity abounds within the GOP and members who stay true to conservative principles win. Just look at the ballot initiatives across the country. In nearly every case - measures that expanded tax cuts passed; opened doors to higher taxes failed; restricted marriage to heterosexuals passed; "green" initiatives (California) failed. Time and again, conservative issues won. GOP candidates did not because that have not acted like conservatives. Social issues are the foundation on which conservative policy is built, lose or ignore them and you have what we have today.

M. Simon said...


Yes the socons knock on doors.

The question is: do they want to win elections for part of their program or lose elections for all of it.

M. Simon said...


Of course you can legislate morality.

That is why alcohol prohibition was a rousing success.

It is why the narco armies are now in regular fire fights on our southern border.

So let us see what we are getting for the drug war:

Hatred of guns because of gang wars

A thriving black market in drugs and all the trouble it buys in South America.

It gives us the choice in Afghanistan of turning the farmers against us or turning a blind eye to the drug flows.

Did I mention that it has also put 1/3 of all black men in the criminal justice system and given us gangsta rap?

So yes. You can legislate away people's vices. However, smart people know from experience that the game is not worth the candle.

So yes. You can legislate morality. And if 99.9% of the people agree or have no objection you can make it work.

Get about 5% of the population against the legislation (the drug war) and you get thriving black markets and organized crime.

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. -Thomas Jefferson

And that should be what Rs stand for: public order. If you want to get falling over drunk or smoke an oz of weed in your own home it should not be the government's business.

People get reminded of it every time the get a new job. Their urine has to be approved by a government certified inspector. Lots of liberty there for sure.

M. Simon said...


If social conservatism was a big draw McCain would have won on the strength of Palin.

However, she was not able to establish her "leave us alone" creds in two months. So she made other people nervous.

True conservatism has to be won the conservative way. One individual at a time. Government guns will not deliver lasting change. Only reluctant acquiescence. Or worse - direct opposition.

This is politics. We should be disarming the opposition not giving them ammunition.

If you want absolutes the proper place for that is religion.

M. Simon said...


The anti-gay marriage position won in CA. It did not translate into a similar number of votes for McCain. Why?

RavingDave said...

On the Thomas Jefferson quote, you left out his opponent's response. From memory it goes something like this. "Were my neighbor to be convinced that there was no God, he would likely not only pick my pocket but also break my neck! "

On the Prop 8 vote, My reading of news stories indicates that the black and latino voters were overwhelmingly in favor of a ban on gay marriage, while most of the white vote was against the ban.


Anonymous said...


While what his opponent said was amusing, it doesn't make it true.

The fact that prop 8 was voted through, as prop 2 was here in FL, was in large part due to the black and latino vote, yet Obama won FL and CA tells me that the time for candidates to be elected on socially conservative platforms is over.

The GOP is going to get votes because they have convinced people that the R platform is better on reform, liberty, and economics. People can take care of their own souls without the help of government.

RavingDave said...

Who mentioned souls ? I have long argued that morality is based on survival, but was adopted by religioists because there had to be a "fear factor" to make people behave. Yeah, a all powerful God that will damn you to hell for all eternity MIGHT be able to make people behave. Of course it doesn't work on everyone but that misses the point. It works on most people. (doesn't have to be true to work)

In any case, years ago I used to add up the body counts of the religious vs the athiests, and so far the athiests have about a 50 million dead people head start over the religous. I suppose if Iran gets nukes, they might be able to catch up pretty quickly.


M. Simon said...

Nice retort Dave,

However, I was unaware that atheists were a particularly murderous thieving lot.

Got any stats on that?

RavingDave said...

Are you serious ? Joe Stalin, Mao tse tung, pol pot et al.

Oh, wait a minute... I see what you mean. No not ALL athiests. Just the one's that get into power.


M. Simon said...

Every one in power is a murderer. It goes with the territory.

It is just a matter of degree. Most American rulers these days prefer as few murders as possible.

The atheists you mentioned were profligate.

And Christian slaughters were not unknown.

RavingDave said...

It is as you said a question of scale. If I remeber corectly, the spanish inquisition killed something like 65,000 people over many decades, while Joe Stalin killed (estimated) 30 million in a couple of years.

If you want to include the crusades and all the religious wars of europe you can add to the body count, however these wars were wars of conquest in the name of religion, and completely contrary to the teachings of the aforesaid religion, but even if you include them they approach nothing like the body count of the Athiests in history who managed to get into power.