By Patrick Henningsen
Sept 19, 2010
21st Century Wire
History will most likely define this present political generation as the one who will either have stemmed the tide of reckless federal expansion, or the one who was brought to its knees by it.
If you can for moment, unzip yourself from whatever political bio-suit you are sporting and take a look at what has been created in the United States during the last decade in terms of government, you will see a machine that far dwarfs the collective apogee of the Clinton, Bush Sr, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon governments… combined.
There is a sizeable constituency of Americans today who no longer identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans. The two parties’ once distinct features have become blurred, taking on a new form. The lines which once separated each from the other are all but gone, as the two have come to merge into a much larger entity. The ‘Democrat’ and the ‘Republican’ have become The Federal.
After researching a number of video clips and speeches made by former US President Ronald Reagan it became evident that during his tenure in the California Governorship (1967-1975) and into his first term as chief executive, he espoused a very strong stance on the benefits of a small Federal Government and held the scope and size of government accountable to provisions laid out in the Constitution of the United States. Once in the White House, it is obvious to students of realpolitik that Reagan, as most chief executives have and as each of his successors did, oversaw an overall expansion of Federal Government. Perhaps the pressure chamber of the Oval Office is too great even for the most ardent of political idealists.
Realpolitik aside, where can this idea of small government fit into the present day revolution that has given birth to the post-modern Goliath known as the United States Federal Government? Make no mistake- there has been a revolution alright, but in terms of the founding principles of the United States, it is the wrong revolution.
The cost of the federal revolution is astronomic and has all but plunged the country into virtual bankruptcy and arguably, into receivership to the very banking institutions who print and loan our Treasury its greenbacks. So do you find yourself supporting or believing in this revolution? As we see support for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty and the Tea Party surging in America, it’s clear that many don’t support it. So who can actually afford to sit on the fence anymore? The answer to that question is simple: anyone feeding from the government trough.
Understand that this is the new mandate. For students of the Chicago Mafia school, it’s called the patronage system. That’s what you get when enough voters are in the employ of the Big Boss, thus making him “Boss for Life”. You never question the Big Boss because the he pays your rent, your holidays and pays for your kid’s tuition fees. In our story, the ‘Big Boss’ is the Federal Government. He is accountable to no court of law and has no oversight, so long as everyone who is important gets their brown envelope on Friday. If you find yourself employed directly or indirectly by one of a multitude of federal agencies and programs, then you are indeed part of the this patronage system and you will likely support any growth in the size and scope of your given agency or program. There are over 20 million of you now on the payroll, as well as many millions more contractors and grantees, making the Big Boss top dog, way past any labor union and way above any industry giant. Even as a middle manager in some obscure bureau, chances are you are probably on a six figure salary along with every benefit imaginable. Life is good if you are working for the Big Boss.
Lessons must still be learned though, and the message is still a crucial one- regardless of the messenger. One would hope that students of history would still be able to listen and learn from vintage Reagan, the actor turn politician, the unlikely idealist, defender of the Constitution and champion of small government. The last two administrations have proven that the Federal machine no longer discriminates between Democrats or Republicans. It speaks one language, that is the language of ‘growth’.
If you are a “Democrat” (we will use quotations to demonstrate the construct), seeing beyond the Left-Right pattern is important. Look past the low-hanging fruits that we have come to recognise as the bitter end of palette of the Reagan legacy, namely Iran-Contra, Star Wars, and certain military industrial aspects of Reaganomics. Judging by economic performance, you will have figured out that Keynesian approach has not done as well as you had hoped. History will reveal that the legendary Stimulus Bill was nothing but a fool’s errand, as was Healthcare Reform. Know the difference between the politically loaded word Capitalism, and consider using the more sober thinking man’s term, Free Market Economics. As a Democrat you must also come to terms with the fact that your party has expanded the already overblown National Security State that it inherited from Bush the Younger. You may see the wisdom laid down by the Founding Fathers of the nation when they provided for individual states rights. You may also come to reconsider the whole concept of “entitlement”. You might then consider, just for a second, the benefits of small government.
If you identify yourself as a “Republican”, then your success in this discussion will be your ability to resist nostalgia of the Neo-Conservative glory years, the Gipper mythology, and a tendency to romanticize about George Bush 43’s rhetoric over his actual results. Know who the Chicago-Straussian school are and why they were so influential in constructing the neo-conservative agenda of the 1980’s. Understand that if you dislike the amount of power which is currently in the hands of the executive, you only have yourselves to blame as you turned a blind eye to Bush 43’s full-scale Executive Branch heist. You will see how this same administration rode roughshod over your Bill of Rights. You will need to understand that history will not judge the Pentagon’s military escalation from 2001- present (and beyond) as anything more than the inevitable flamboyant gesture of an empire in decline (see Rome). You will have realized that the Crusades had already been done and dusted during Medieval times. Surely, there is no real glory in these adventures. You will come to know that talking heads like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly are mere entertainers and not philosophers. Last but not least, do not forget that most Democrats are fellow Christians too.
Bush 43 and Obama have too much in common. Both have lots of friends in high places. Both lobbied heavily for the first Banker Bailouts in October 2008 (as did John McCain). Both ran on an election platform that was ditched as soon as the locks were changed at Pennsylvania Ave. Bush ran on traditional conservative planks like “no nation building” and “we don’t want to be policeman of the world” and a “smaller government”. The reality was just the opposite- lots of nation building, world police and a doubling in size of the Federal government. Similarly Obama waxed lyrical about ending the wars, closing Guantanamo and repealing Patriot Acts I and II. No doubt, this was an exciting prospect. But again, the reality was the opposite- expanding the war theatres east, a skyrocketing military budget and further transgressions on civil liberties by the State. The military largess of these two administrations has literally bled the republic dry to the tune of $4 Trillion by today’s count. The total debt has increased over $500 billion each year since fiscal year (FY) 2003, with increases of $1 trillion in FY2008 and $1.9 trillion in FY2009. We’re still waiting for the final bill for 2010.
Both the Bush Jr and Obama governments have contributed to the greatest unseen revolution to date in the history of the United States- a four fold expansion of the Federal Government, as well as a creeping global Theater of War. It is this revolution which is now threatening to eat the nation from within. The history books will be final on this.
With its manufacturing base all but outsourced overseas, a financial sector which has transformed itself into a deregulated bent casino, federal departments like Homeland Security (only 8 years old and currently carrying the largest budget of any federal department), the TSA and FEMA annually running up a bill that is larger than the civil budget of some developed countries, and a Pentagon being funded by a bottomless blank cheque book- the United States Government is at that unique point in history where it has nothing left to feed on, except on the Constitution. Except on the founding principles of the nation. Except on you.
Whether you class yourself as a “Democrat” or a “Republican”, it is becoming clearer that no citizen can afford to play the traditional controlled Left vs Right punch and judy game. You might just sit and muse in hindsight, as many do, on where you think Ronald Reagan sat on the political spectrum but you cannot deny that his message of small government is still valuable and never more relevant than today.
One day in the future Americans may finally wake up to realize after all, that they can no longer afford this massive Federal machine. But more importantly they may come to understand that the two-sided political game they have been playing… well, it’s just not all that fun anymore.
This short video (below) offers up a comparison between principles of small government vs the wild logic of borrowing and spending embodied in Joe Biden’s now infamous declaration of “we got to spend money to keep from going bankrupt”, a concept fully embraced by the current administration. In times of strife, we often lose sight of how far we’ve gone from the fundamentals and where we are headed. It’s essential for a civilization to refer to history in order to get its proper bearing.
Pre-White House Reagan delivers a powerful message.
Watch this thought-provoking video montage: A pre-White House Ronald Reagan interspersed with contemporary clips of his alleged ideological adversaries, namely, the current President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and Joe Biden.
In 2010, Ron Paul offers ideas that few in Washington dare entertain.
Let the real debate begin.
To wait any more, puts America’s Constitutional Republic at risk.
About the author: Patrick Henningsen is a writer, filmmaker, communications consultant and managing editor of 21st Century Wire.