The last presidential election was often viewed as an ideological plebiscite between conservatives and liberals. It reminded us how deep are divisions within the nation, how intense is the mutual distrust, and most of all, how fractioned we have become; clustering around people agreeing with us but unable to discuss with our opponents things that matter. If we acknowledge this profound inability to communicate with the other side, it is less important who won; more important is that after the election, both sides still perceive each other as unfit, not suitable to deal properly with the issues that our nation is facing. In their genuine convictions, both sides sincerely care about the nation’s future, but in the concepts of how to address our problems we ideologically drifted so far apart that there is very little common ground. Sadly, that almost 50/50 split in Washington reflects the ideological fracture within the nation. Stalemate is the right word, and it is not good.
Conservatives lost in that ideological plebiscite last year. One may say that the winning side had a more appealing messenger, but one may say as well that if the losing side had a more appealing message, it could win regardless. Losers in the last presidential election can blame only themselves for the outcome.
Conservatives versus liberals
Judging by the tone of some political commentators, one might arrive with a conclusion that the division between conservatives and liberals (sometimes also called progressives) is an essential ideological division within the nation. Nothing more wrong. The split into conservatives and liberals is a rift within the political establishment, which more confuses the public than helps Americans to make educated political decisions.
Before elaborating more on the merit of this thesis, let me focus on a mere technicality. If conservatives versus liberals were a meaningful division, it would mean that the truth is somewhere between these two options; the right solutions would be always on hand from one side or another of the political spectrum. And, if brought to light, in most instances it would prevail. This is not what has been going on in Washington for the last twenty years or so. In science or in business, every time two opposite points of view come across there is a way to sort out the facts, and apply the available knowledge in order to reach a constructive conclusion. This does not happen when conservatives and liberals need to do something together. Regardless if someone is a conservative or liberal, one needs to acknowledge that approaching our problems in the conservative versus liberal dimensions is unproductive; it does not work. I believe that it is infertile because of etheric and often deceptive meaning of these terms. In science and in business it is impossible to reach any useful conclusion if reference points are not clearly defined. It is the same in politics because meanings of terms “conservative” and “liberal” or “progressive” are vague. When it comes down to the details of political debates and decisions there are not solid reference points; hence, disagreements become emotional and personal. With the lack of clarity, particular interests prevail in political decision to the point that, with every day passing, Americans’ distrust of the political establishment goes even deeper.
The meaningful improvement can happen if we all agree on the unproductivity of conservatives versus liberals division and express our political orientation in relation to other reference points. In other words if we find other terms, assumingly more precise, that will replace terms “conservative” and “liberal”. I propose that we abandon using the term “conservative” and replace it with the term “capitalist” in the meaning of a supporter of capitalism. Similarly, I suggest that we abandon using the term “liberal” or “progressive” and replace it with “socialist” as a supporter of socialism.
To visualize the change I propose, let me bring up an analogy from the high school geometry, as shown on the picture.
In the most known approach, a point on the plane is defined by x1 and y1, as distances on the axes x and y from the reference point (0,0). The same point can be defined as well as a segment r and an angle α from the reference axis. The first approach may work great for example if someone wants to get driving directions in Chicago, as most of the streets have almost perfect Cartesian layout. The second example is good for a sailor, who just needs a distance and the azimuth. Analogically, today most politically aware Americans define their political orientation in reference to conservatives and liberals, or to what they think these terms mean. One can define his or her political standing equally well by referring to more precise terms as “capitalism” and “socialism”. With this approach, no one is required to revise his or her political views; however, everyone can benefit from seeing them in distinct reference points.
Socialism and me
My reasoning here should be seen in the context of my personal experiences with socialism. I was born and raised in Poland, then a part of the Soviet Bloc. By the time I could understand political reality, it was obvious that socialism was the only system, and that looking at capitalism as an option was impractical and simply dangerous. I recall once in high school we had a lecture how socialism works, and why it is good. I raised my hand and doubted that it would ever work, as it is contradictory to the human nature. The teacher, frustrated with my following questions, told me that my doubts came from my ignorance; I needed to learn more about socialism. I signed up for some college classes about Marxism-Leninism. My logic was that in order to be a politically aware citizen in the socialistic country, one needed to study socialism, and it was infertile to study capitalistic ideas.
Later I got involved in political writing and joined the publication trying to use modern technology in order to make socialism work. The running comment was that General Motors was larger than the whole Polish economy, and it was very efficient as a centralized economic organization. The socialistic government needed just to implement the same management methods.
One of the reporters tried to figure it out how to do it. Food was always in a short supply, and meat particularly was hard to buy. A journalist asked a government official what did they do about it. In response, he received a list of fifty government regulations issued within the previous six months just to improve supply of pork. For a farmer it meant that the economical calculation of raising pigs changed twice a week. In result, it was impossible to plan for profit, and farmers focused on keeping a few pigs needed for their families and survival of their farms.
At the same time, one could buy flowers almost everywhere at affordable price. Even in small towns, kiosks selling flowers opened at early hours and stayed open until late at night. The selection of flowers sold was impressive. Someone made an effort to find out what the government did to make it happen. Apparently, the government decided that flowers were not important for the wellbeing of people in Poland, and did not issue even one regulation intended to improve things in this matter.
On the top of the above experiences, waiting for hours in lines to buy bread, meat, or toilet paper, I had plenty of time to think about some improvements. So I did. Several years later I expressed my ideas on some public gathering. After that I was approached by a young economy professor from the local university who, after questioning me for several minutes, told me that I was too much influenced by Milton Friedman. “Who?” – I replied, as this was the first time I heard this name.
The meaningful conclusion from this experience is that regardless of ideological background, anyone arduously analyzing social processes and sticking to facts and logic unavoidably ends up in the Milton Friedman camp.
Capitalism without adjectives
Every service technician knows the basic rule: when everything fails, check the manual. When working on fixing any technical device does not bring the result, when trying everything one might think of does not work either, then one needs humbly pull out the manual and read it. It applies as well, when whatever we try to do in the country fails; humbly we have to read again what were the concepts outlined at the nation origin.
The essence of the American political system is that the good of the society was not defined as an abstract – be it a divine message, a whim of a ruler, or a consensus of a collective ruling body – but as the freedom of individuals to pursue their happiness. In comparison to mostly totalitarian traditions of the era, the revolutionary aspect of this approach was that the government was deprived authority to tell citizens what to do. In the original concept, as Founding Fathers phrased it, the best interest of the Republic would be served the best if individuals were given the freedom to pursue their personal interests; freedom limited only by the rights of other individuals of doing the same. In this concept, the role of the government would be in securing an environment allowing all citizens the same rights to pursue their personal interests. Besides the duty of protecting the country form outside enemies, in internal matters, powers of the government were intended to stop individuals from hurting each other and in enforcing contracts.
In an economic aspect it meant that the wealth of the nation was achieved the best by citizens having freedom to enrich themselves. The wealth of the country was defined as the wealth available to people not to the government. It worked well for a while. Liberties given to individuals unleashed energy of entrepreneurs, which – in result – created vast wealth of this country. By the nature of its creation, this wealth has not been distributed evenly; not all people pursuing happiness have been able to achieve it. Critics of the free market kindly take for granted that in the capitalistic system, understood as the free market economy, a lot of more wealth is created than in the socialistic system, where the focus is on equal distribution. Consequently, despite inequities, in a free market system people, especially the poor ones are richer then in a society guided by populist ideas.
The system formed by the Founding Fathers later was named capitalism, without adjectives. Terms such as crony capitalism, collusive capitalism, state capitalism, or welfare capitalism came later. In order to clarify, the capitalism without adjectives got an adjective as well: “the free market capitalism”. Somehow, the “free market” is perceived by many as pejorative, as extreme and as not practical. The free market, when taken consequently, could be seen as a cruel political concept. However, it is a cruelty of an accountant telling us that two plus two is always four, regardless of how we feel about it. As we all became richer, thanks to the free market, many Americans achieved the level of economic comfort that allowed them to focus on the feelings, and influence policy accordingly. And this is where things turned bad for capitalism.
Kitchen door socialism
Today, no reasonable person would advocate for socialism such as I experienced it first-hand when growing up in Poland, but the allure of socialism did not disappear after the bankruptcy of the Soviet system. It could not be truer than slogans I read when growing up: “Ideas of socialism are forever alive”.
Roots of socialistic thinking are noble and well-intended. Socialists believe that in the free market capitalism wealth is accumulated in the hands of the few, who then use it to get political influence, which in turn allows them to gain even more wealth. This causes systematic inequalities, which limit opportunities of individuals; the system is not fair. In result, society-wide resources are not used in the best interest of the society as a whole. From this observation, socialists feel that society is obligated to do something about it. Revolutionary socialists advocated for taking control of means of production by force; and some did.
Today’s socialists often call themselves social democrats. As such they recognize that there is no better system than capitalism to generate wealth and create technological progress. However, they see injustice in the accumulation of wealth and power that the winners in the free market game can get, and they distrust their motives. In the economic aspect they see that in the free market game many resources are wasted, as factories are closed and goods are liquidated on the losing side. Besides material loss, this causes social cost as people lose jobs and communities are made impoverished. Socialists do not like the risky aspect of capitalism, they want stability.
On the moral grounds, socialists do not like the egoistic aspect of capitalism where by definition the system works best when individuals have freedom to pursue their selfish goals. Socialists believe that collective work is part of progress; they disdain people who see their success measured in dollars earned, because “there are more important things in life than money”.
In this aspect they see the need for the democratic society to use its means, the government apparatus of coercion to be precise, to mitigate the harshness of the capitalistic system. They believe that decisions made by democratically elected collective bodies can better serve the good of society than decisions of individuals. “We believe an open and effective government can champion the common good over narrow self-interest” one can read in “about us” on the website of the Center for American Progress, the progressive think tank.
When I came to the U.S. in 1985, in the first months I was overwhelmed by the sense of liberty. Things seemed easy and not hampered; until, several months later, when I opened my first business in Chicago. Even then, I ran into situations that, when dealing with pettiness of regulations, I felt as if I never left Poland. It was then, that I made an observation that the U.S. won the frontal ideological confrontation with the Soviet Union, but left the kitchen door opened to socialistic ideas. Since then socialistic ideas have gained much more ground in the U.S. For the meaningful segments of both the public and the political establishments they are what America is all about.
As one might expect, today’s liberals openly advocate socialistic policies, but what might surprise many, a close look at today’s conservatives shows that they have been soaked with socialistic thinking as well. This is the reason that they have been losing influence in recent years, and this is the reason, that I advocate for abandonment of terms “conservative” and “liberal”, and replacing them with “capitalist” and “socialist”.
The bicycle syndrome
Through comparing capitalism and socialism, one can see that in the essence of approaching social and economic issues they are diametrically different. A mathematician would say that they are orthogonal. In trivial terms, the meanings of these two terms are not overlapping; hence, these two terms can precisely define political standing, as every political position can be clearly defined as capitalistic or socialistic.
In the capitalistic approach, there is no such thing as the good of the community in general. The good is in not constraining individuals who are pursuing their selfish goals. In order for the government to intervene and limit freedoms of an individual, another individual needs to make a compelling case that his or her freedoms are limited or their well-being harmed by the actions of that individual. In the socialistic approach, it is opposite – the good of the society as an abstract can be claimed, usually by a collective body, and then the government is authorized to use its power of coercion to ban some activities of individuals or force them to do things which otherwise they would not do.
For example, soon after I opened my first small service business in Chicago, someone suggested that I could lower my cost of maintaining my front office by allocating some space to a TV repairman. I put the sign in the window that we had been fixing TVs and VCRs, and customers started coming. A few months later, a city inspector arrived as well and wrote a ticket. If I did not address it properly, I could spend time in jail and pay hefty fines. Apparently, City Hall decided that, in the best interest of the public, TV repair shops are required to obtain a special license. I did not know about it. I needed to add a few electrical outlets at a cost of $250 in order to get the license for $150, and I wasted a whole day in court to have my ticket resolved with $176 in fees and penalties. More than a quarter of a century later I remember this incident so vividly, as for me it was a purely socialistic action of the government body, which in the name of some abstract good of the community deprived me of my time and money that I needed so desperately then to build the business. Curious, I checked how it would be today. If I want to open in Chicago a business repairing electronic devices, I need a general business license costing $250 for two years. If it ever might happen that I would resell used equipment, and it likely would, I need a secondhand dealer license instead at $1,100 for two years. The clerk at City Hall could not explain to me why it is so much. I can understand why the city of Chicago wants fees paid two years in advance, but how does this encourage people to open a business?
I investigated the background of that TV repair license. Officially, people complained to city officials about dishonest or fly-by-night repair shops, and politicians felt compelled to issue one more regulation. It could be as well, I heard, that well-established repair shops did not want competition from startups such as my business, so they used their influence in City Hall to raise the bar for new entrants. I never could verify the rumors that the well-established competitor, a few miles down the street was behind the inspector’s visit.
I devote so much attention to this petty incident as it illustrates perfectly how “an open and effective government” (as the Center for American Progress believes in it) can be easily manipulated. Licensing requirements are the barrier stopping many people from pursuing their happiness by opening their own business. It means that existing businesses have less competition and can charge more. It means as well that innovations, which some startups might bring, never happen. Also, it means that some people, who were discouraged from starting their own business due to high entry cost, might end up on government support, especially during recession. Despite all the noble intentions, only established businesses benefit. This is how “an open and effective government” effectively converts the free market capitalism into a collusive capitalism.
Generalizing, every government regulation interfering with the free market, regardless of its intentions, limits freedoms of some players, and opens an opportunity of benefits for others. When lawmakers, be it on a local level or in Washington, look at any problem brought to their attention, in their understanding of the problem and potential solutions, they are influenced by people they talk with. They talk with lobbyists and donors. And the more wealth one has the more likely this entity can find an effective way to skew the new law to its benefit. This way, socialistic ideas intended to mitigate the roughness of capitalism, turn capitalism into its worst version, crony or collusive capitalism, where people with money support politicians and politicians tweak the laws allowing rich to become even richer. The term “collusive” might even be too strong here as it implies a conspiracy. No conspiracy or illegal action is necessary. As in the case of that TV repair license, there might be legitimate arguments for any regulations, and side benefits for some might not be obvious.
One may argue that the problem is with money influencing politics and socialists see a need for more regulations. Capitalists believe that the fewer regulations we have the fewer chances of people with money tweaking the law to their benefit. The fewer regulations mitigating hardship of capitalism we have the lesser are politicians abilities to sell their influence, as they will have much less to offer, even if someone has money to buy. The lesser is intrusiveness of the government in our daily affairs, the fewer regulations we need assuring that there is no undue influence. Socialists have a problem with this approach as they do not trust motives of people with money operating on the free market; they believe that the government intervention into markets benefits society as a whole. Behind this approach there is a tacit assumption that rich people playing on the free market are generally less moral and more corrupt than politicians and government bureaucrats. This still needs to be proven.
We all sense that within the recent decades the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Charles Murray documented this well in his book “Coming Apart”. His description of economic and moral decay of about one third of the nation, the poorest among us, asks for action. Especially, that – according to his book – about half of the American population aspires to join the affluent, but it struggles to stay afloat from sinking into the poorest. Again, capitalists and socialists have different approaches.
For capitalists, everyone should have the freedom to run his or her life, and bear consequences of decisions made. Not everyone makes wise decisions, often not at his or her faults, for example due to poor upbringing. Some are struck by disasters beyond their control, such as a major sickness. Socialists are compelled to assign government a role of assisting the misfortunate among us. Capitalists are for leaving this to private charities. Socialists see this as humiliating; they believe that the progressive industrial society can afford more dignified support for the misfortunate. Unfortunately, they ignore that it is in the human nature that dignity, similar to satisfaction and happiness in life – cannot be given; they have to be earned. Self-esteem does not come from the handouts or from the hollow compliments but from the gratification from one’s own accomplishments. The easiest way to get satisfaction in life is from the job well done; happiness comes from the paycheck earned even if it is not much higher than the check handed out. Prof. John Cochrane phrased it the best when defining the level of health care that capitalistic society should provide for the poorest: “It has to be good enough to fulfill the responsibilities of a compassionate society, and just bad enough that few will choose it if they are capable of making choices. I wish it could be better, but that’s the best that is possible.”
There were times when we considered someone poor who at night goes to bed hungry. Not anymore; obesity is much greater among the poor than the rich. The book mentioned above confirms what a reasonable person could predict; many poor do not get out of bed in the morning, and they kill time sleeping and watching TV. Guided by good intentions, we created the system where the government takes money from the most industrious and most entrepreneurial among us, to the point that it crumples our ability to grow, and then redistributes this money to those who contribute the least. It is not only that hard earned money is wasted; it is the issue of compromising the basic moral necessity that makes a community from a group of people; that the one who does not work shall not eat; that the one who does not contribute shall not participate in the fruits of the community work.
Despite what socialists are telling us, reaching for help should be humiliating. A crown will not fall off the head of an industrious person, who somehow found himself or herself sticking out a hand for a handout. An embarrassment of this situation can serve as a reflection how to avoid similar situations in the future. There is nothing human or honorable in shielding from humiliation a person who made a lifestyle out of living on the handouts.
The eagerness of socialists in mitigating harshness of capitalism and in steering people into behaviors perceived as desirable goes far beyond assistance for the poor. Michael Grunwald in the Time’s cover story “Nation On Welfare” details how deeply government is entangled in redistributing the money we make. It affects all of us. In this system government claims part of our income, and then lets us to use it if we do what government wants us to do, not what we might do otherwise, without government coercion. Behind this logic there is a purely socialistic concept that the good of society is served better if it is defined by collective decisions of the democratic society and then enforced accordingly. Capitalists see the good of society achieved the best if individuals have freedom to follow their egoistic goals. The harm caused by the overwhelming government involvement in wealth redistribution and coercing our everyday decisions is not only in the inefficiency of bureaucracy and in the risk that collectively decided goals might be much worse that the sum of unimpeded decisions of individuals. The greatest harm is that our entrepreneurship as individuals shifts from reaching the goals where sky is the limit – into gaming the system and setting our goals as getting as much as possible from what government has to offer. Boldly speaking, less of our energy and ingenuity go into competing with each other in creating new wealth, which is unlimited; more of our efforts go into competing with each other in getting access to wealth distributed by government, which is limited. This means the end of America as written about by Alexis de Tocqueville.
A socialist may say that my arguments have some merit but we cannot let the free market run wild. It is so unstable and it implies too many risks. I call it the “bicycle syndrome.” When bicycles first came out, common sense people saw that it was impossible to keep the balance on the bike when it stands; logically it appeared silly to hope for the balance in more complex situation, when it rides. Now we know that stability of a bike comes from its momentum, that the bike can be stable only when in motion. This is the same with capitalism. In the ideal free market system, every new problem is someone else’s opportunity to make money by fixing it. Ability of acting fast without limitation makes capitalism flourish. Those of us who are about 35 or older got a sense of this by observing how the internet blossomed within the last two decades. It grew in the new area where government had no regulations, and it developed so fast that the bureaucrats could not keep up. Let our imagination wonder where we all could have been if most of the other areas of our economy were so little regulated as the internet.
Socialists want stability. They unlikely would claim it, but an attentive observer can notice that their ideal is a society working like clockwork. There is a lot of movement, but there is no progress. When it comes to bikes, on the real ones socialists might roam the streets, but on the policy issues, they prefer stationary bikes, firmly bolted to the ground by “an open and effective government” regulations.
Conservatives and liberals are much alike
Liberals have to be given credit for being persistent in their ideological inspirations – they are just socialists. They will never admit to it but they might acknowledge some inspiration from European social democrats. They believe that a visible and firm hand of an intelligent and well-intended government can make society much better and more just than if we would leave it to the invisible hand of the free market. I purposely narrow my deliberation to the only economic aspect of otherwise broad issues that liberals might list as their objectives. When there is plenty of money, we might devote some time for discussion of things that one might claim as more important than money. When money is running out, money is the only thing that matters.
Conservatives in general are for more freedoms and less government, but there are so many “buts” that most often have the free market somewhere in the deep background, and “buts” are the main objectives.
On social issues, conservatives rightfully see that in the industrial society many traditional family and community based ties are loosened. Conservatives might believe that people are moral by their nature in theory, but seeing disintegration of traditional family values here and now, they ask for the firm and immediate government action to protect family values.
Americans are not as much ahead of the rest of the world as before. Seeing this, conservatives might believe that if Americans are given the full freedom of enterprise they eventually would rebuild the dominant position of the nation; in theory. But seeing American businesses losing on the worldwide market, conservatives put their trust in the free market on the back burner, and ask for protectionist policies now.
When seeing that immigrants can find jobs in America but Americans cannot, conservatives see it as the issue of surviving of the nation, as we know it, and ask for restrictive immigration policies. The socialistic concept of our immigration law and the vigorous support for it by some people calling themselves conservatives is plainly embarrassing. Again, the idea of the free market is pushed aside.
In every community the richest person or entity could be disliked by many just for being the richest. So America is viewed around the world. It tickles the nerves of American patriots when Americans are targeted. In theory, patience and cooperation should work better; but when Americans are hurt, conservatives want the government to flex the muscle. As a result we ended as the richest and most powerful nation ever on Earth launching war against one of the poorest and weakest nations; the war Americans cannot win.
Conservatism today is a once young attractive woman, who a few decades ago pledged to be faithful to the ideas of limited government and freedoms of individuals. In the meantime, for many short-term benefits this woman went to bed with religious bigots, with nationalists, with military complex, and with whoever came along promising political power. This woman is still attractive to some, but respected by no one.
Compromising on the adherence to the ideas of freedom and limited government, when granting government so many powers, for all practical reasons, conservatives do not differ much from liberals. Liberals want an authoritarian government executing their ideological preferences. Conservatives want an authoritarian government executing their ideological preferences. The ideological preferences are different; the yearning for a totalitarian government is the same.
For years conservatives bashed liberals, liberals bashed conservatives, and both of them have no shame that it has brought no results. It is time to end it. Let everyone declare him or herself in relation to capitalism and socialism. To which extent do you support the free market, and where and why do you support using socialistic concepts? This is the most meaningful choice we all have to make, regardless if up to now we considered themselves conservatives, liberals, or anything else.
GOP – the Growth Oriented Party
What should Republicans do now? If it wants to be around ten years from now, GOP needs to become the Growth Oriented Party.
With the weight of the national debt, it is critical to get out of the recession soon. It appears that Democrats do not share this sense of urgency. They seem to consider the enormous wealth of our country as given and everlasting. It takes a mind of someone who signs payroll checks on the front not on the back to realize that enormous wealth of the nation is not unlimited. This is the potential competitive advantage of the GOP. Socialists see human activities as a static process and focus on the equal, socially acceptable distribution of the wealth produced today. This wealth is limited. If we look at the human activities as an everlasting progress, our focus will be on equal rights to create wealth, not on the wealth that can be produced. This wealth is unlimited.
Thinking of political solutions, first of all we need to preserve or revitalize political mechanisms that made this country rich in the first place. I have been shocked many times that the majority of Americans claim support for limited government, the freedom of individuals, entrepreneurship, and the free market, while in the same breath, on the issues of their concern, they are ready to relinquish some of the liberties they have by giving the government extra powers and money to do things the way they prefer. On the next issue, other Americans do the same. Americans complain that government is getting too big; they do not see that they asked for it. This “kitchen door socialism” sneaks in through the back door and dominates to the nitty-gritty of political decision making. The lure of socialism never can be eliminated, but as long as it is pointed out every time it appears, we are moving in the right direction.
When a problem arises because some market players have undue influence, it means that these market players have more freedom than others. The solution then should not be in limiting freedoms of these entities. It should be in extending freedoms of other market players that do not have them now. In layman terms, it means that when we face any problem, first we have to understand what caused the problem, and we have to at least give a thought to a possibility that previous regulations contributed to the gravity of the problem. If this is the case, the solution could be just in simplifying or eliminating all together the existing regulation. Lawmakers on all levels proudly count their achievements as the list of laws they introduced. We want a political climate that they would be even more proud of the nation’s problems they solved by eliminating existing laws and leaving nothing instead. The thought behind this approach is in giving more freedom to everybody, not only to those who can hire Washington lobbyists. This way we can revive the economic strength of the middle class, flatten the wealth distribution, and make the whole country richer in the process. The voters might like it too.
Division on makers and takers, despite being accurate, might be not the smartest politically. Many takers ended up in this position because they did not have lobbyists looking after their interests; due to multitude of tax, licensing, zoning, labor, environmental, and insurance requirements, they were squeezed out of the productive side of the society. In his famous 47% comment, Mitt Romney not only offended almost half of the electorate, but also unveiled that he had nothing to offer them. It was a strategic mistake that Republicans should not repeat anymore. Takers are not happy. To be precise, they are less happy than any other part of the public. It could be that some of them just look for more handouts, but we have to talk to all of them as they are looking for a helping hand so they can bounce back and again become productive members of the society.
It might be easier said than done – one may sigh – seeing how deeply dysfunctional political establishment is. The onus is on GOP as their message is confusing at least. Republicans need first win the argument before winning the votes; they need to think more about the next generation than the next election. Even if some politicians might be claiming otherwise, they tend to think about the next election first. The gravity of work needs to be done outside of Washington, by media and think tanks.
With the election lost, with Republicans losing public support, and with the looming coming of Obamacare – Republicans are under pressure to reevaluate the strategy fast. The fear that the debate can turn into internal fighting paralyzes GOP leaders and practically makes impossible to break the pattern. Despite lofty declarations, the leading pro Republican thinkers focus on tactics; they appear unintellectual. New strategy is nowhere to be seen. They seem to be even more united around ideas that lost last election, and even more incapable to talk with others.
Proposed here, the return to the very basics that our nation was found upon is safe, simple, and easy to implement. “Read the manual” argument can win many debates. It might be harder to convince many of today’s conservatives and liberals that the government overextended its control over economy. On the issues of health care or immigration the mindset of most Americans is as that of the government of the former socialistic Poland in regulating meat production, and not seeing flower market thriving without any regulations. The most important is that the Republicans need a bold candid debate about what to do next. Proposed here is the approach of revitalizing old ideas of free enterprise and limited government, which can focus the debate on the positives. Abandoning the old conservatives versus liberals division will broaden the audience.
To get started let us all agree that beginning now, when reading any political commentary using terms “conservatives” and “liberals” we will just shrug our shoulders and move on. To get our attention, one needs to tell if he or she is for capitalism or socialism, and why.
Henryk A. Kowalczyk