Steadfast FinancesWhy I'm a Recovering Republican

Why I’m a Recovering Republican

Filed in Politics , Taxes 7 comments

Readers beware: this is one of the few occasions I’ll ever allow myself to vent from my political soapbox.

If you’ve followed the SF blog for a while, you’ll know I rarely discuss political topics because I, quite honestly, have a substantial hatred of anything resembling the subject. The hypocritical political debates and predictable pendulum-like gullibility of the American sheeple people to believe one party’s lies campaign promises over another are, for lack of a better word, fruitless, from my point of view.

And me not being a fan of wasting time watching monkeys hump the proverbial football, I usually give politics an eye roll and move on to more productive activities.

But, over the weekend, I got into a fairly heated debate with a few of my 20s and 30s Something (GOP) friends after they began their near habitual whining about national debt and reckless governmental spending. The kindling for this friendly debate was the jaw dropping NY Times Op-Ed piece by David Stockman, former Reagan budgetary director, that showed no mercy in bitchsmacking the contemporary Republican party and Neoconservative movement for their “irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism“ masquerading as fiscal conservativism and free market capitalism.

(Word of caution: one of the worst things you can ever do to a conservative, free market loving Republican is refer to them as a supporter of Keynesian economics. You can almost see them having a miniature stroke from incomprehensible shock.)

These friends, like many in Gen X and Gen Y, have essentially relied upon a Cliff Notes version or boiled down version of the news from a “trusted” media personalities for the last few years, and I dare say, for the decade or so they’ve had the maturity to fully grasp American politics. That’s all fine and good, we’re busy people after all and I’m as big a fan of the Colbert Show as you’ll ever find.

But a big problem occurs when news is speciously converted to junk news to meet whatever agenda your particular media outlet might be promoting. And that is why much of the debate occurred, because these individuals, and I’d bet a vast majority of other card carrying Republicans, haven’t heard or refuse to admit the arguments posed by Stockman are accurate, much less exist. (Yes, our world is so ridiculously customized that you can choose to have your news altered according to the ideologies in which you subscribe. The irony is that we’re so easily deluded that we actively seek out information to confirm and continue feeding our delusions, rather than let them subtly influence our beliefs the old fashioned way.)

Highlights from the Stockman Op-Ed

Due to the choice of their news and information sources, my friends could barely acknowledge, much less try to disprove (confirmation bias is a painful psychological phenomenon to conquer), the in-your-face knowledge bomb that was Stockman’s article.

A few highlights:

  • Republicans abandoned the belief that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — government, trade, central banks private households and businesses.
  • [...] it was a new cadre of ideological tax-cutters who killed the Republicans’ fiscal religion.
  • America’s debt explosion has resulted from the Republican Party’s embrace, three decades ago, of the insidious Supply Side doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts.
  • The GOP controlled Congress from 1994 to 2006: Combine neocon warfare spending with entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects and you end up with a GOP welfare/warfare state driving the federal spending machine.
  • [...] it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.

So if you happen to be like my conservative friends (disclosure: I was one of them until 2007), I hope you will allow the Stockman article to briefly remove your livestock nose ring and let your mind to do some free range thinking.

Because if you don’t, and you continue to believe in a flawed political ideology that has gained massive popularity (easy to do since it promotes greater financial gain) whose error got compounded over and over again over the last 40 years — longer than most of us reading this post have been alive — then the brand of old school conservatism that I was taught (e.g. take care of your money or a lack of money will take care of you), is not the kind of conservative party I want to call my own.

This is why I choose to bid adieu to the boys in red. Until real fiscal conservativism makes a comeback, consider me a neutral.

Unless a fringe group of Retro-Republicans can surface. Wouldn’t that be a sight.

~ ~ ~

Photo by janeyesee

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Posted by CJ   @   2 August 2010 7 comments
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7 Comments

Comments
Aug 2, 2010
11:51 pm

Too bad the tea party got so screwed up with racial stuff, religion and whatnot. Small government sounds great to me. free markets over subsidies sounds great. recognizing that govt jobs, oversight, mass regulation and pencil pushers don’t actually accomplish anything other than running up the debt is a start.

there’s no party that stands for this “within reason”. all politicians these days have to be so damn left, right or whacko (eliminate all government, etc) that there’s no reasonable choice. somehow, our system has led us to over a century of relative prosperity – but I’m concerned about where it’s taking us.

Aug 2, 2010
11:53 pm

Interesting piece. I think I’m a social democrat and a fiscal conservative, but I don’t see those as mutually exclusive. We need to invest in the social fabric, but there are ways of doing that without running constant debts on others’ behalf (including the behalf of other countries:))…

Aug 3, 2010
12:02 am

I agree the tea party is one of the most whacked-out things to emerge of late (a whacked-out aggregate, that is, of a lot of whacked-out minds). A lot of people aren’t looking to solve specific problems; they’re looking for a belief system and a group to cling to and base an identity on (and push others down at the same time, of course).

That said, I think that cutting back on the Dept. of Defense would be a more effective way to start than cutting back on “pencil pushers”. But I doubt the Tea partiers are thinking of that, are they?

Aug 3, 2010
11:46 am

This is a really nice piece and echoes many of the sentiments of unhappy GOP members. I was raised in a very conservative part of the country and am extremely unhappy with the Republicans’ ability to formulate an adequate response to the problems facing the nation. This is one of the easiest times to gather new support, but they offer no platform worthy of attention. Ditto for the Dems…both parties are essentially worthless right now.

Aug 3, 2010
12:00 pm
#5 Evan :

I think you could literally replace almost every “right” with “left” and have the same exact post.

I get as annoyed as you do, but with both sides. If Rangel was a republican he would have been TARED AND FEATHERED! just as a recent example

Aug 5, 2010
9:24 pm

I don’t care who they are. If they have a (R) or a (D) in front of their name and they have done things illegal they should be fired/jailed/disbanded.

Rangel should be kicked out ASAP!

When voting now for a R or a D it’s voting for the less of the two evils. Neither party fits my needs. Though people are quick to call me a Republican. Though Libertarian != Republican

Sep 21, 2010
7:09 pm

I agree to a point. Tax cuts without corresponding budget cuts makes no sense. That’s like me taking a part-time job so I can have more time with my family but not scaling back my spending at all.

And, I can’t say it enough. Deficits are not caused by tax cuts. Deficits are caused by spending. The government does not cut and send checks to rich people. Even though that’s what the media would have you believe. When someone says, “we cannot afford to give back money for tax cuts”, run far far away.

I work in the government and the mentality that somehow the government “owns” the money is ludicrous. It’s that attitude that got us into this mess.

Before any money is put on contract, a government employee should have to sit down with a family and justify why those funds need to be spent. It pains me to know the waste that goes on. To think that people work they’re butts off so they can send their money to organizations that have no clue how to manage it correctly is appalling. I know because I see it everyday.

Thanks for the article!

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