In my previous post I broadly defined Republican moderates as pragmatists and the Tea Party/opposition to progressivism as idealists and asked which approach would most likely win the independent voters. It also matters, assuming most Idealists will vote for Republicans, which approach will inspire the highest voter turn-out of partisan Republicans.
It's become apparent that the independents who swing back and forth between Republicans and Democrats during elections will be the deciding factor in determining which party has power. Speaking as an independent, male, businessman, partly college educated, partly an autodidact, with a libertarian/classical liberal mindset, I have many problems with the moderate approach and how they've characterized the Tea Party-like opposition to progressive policies -- many moderates (and other political stripes, but here I'm discussing moderates) don't even accept that Democrat policies are mostly progressive and still insist on using the term "moderately liberal". Even if some policy proposals, and the ones that have passed, are watered down due to resistance, their long term effects are progressive, and the progressives in the Democrat Party have said over and over that these are just first steps to achieve much more progressive goals to redistribute wealth and institute their version of socail justice. I don't use "progressive" as a smear word, but rather to identify political players and their agenda who have talked about instituting progressive reforms. Liberal, progressive, it's all relative, and the important fact is that the policies are statist in nature, giving government a more powerful role in regulating and manipulating the economy and the actions of private companies, not to mention regulation of the behavior of all citizens in the form of mandates and taxes on certain behaviors.
The moderates' claim that it's best to work with the Democrats to shape legislation is correct to a point, but when it comes to the progressive agenda to reshape how government relates to its citizens, i.e., statist policies which enhance the power and control over individual choices in a free market, compromise is only a small obstacle which doesn't stop the progressive movement, just slows it down temporarily. To this degree I side with the Idealists on free market/classical liberal principles. If, however, Democrats and Republicans could stop their war long enough to use reason to deal with the unsustainable reality of the welfare state, and other critical problems, I say --Yes! -- work together! Between idealism and pragmatism we can can come up with a better safety net that won't bankrupt the nation. Between idealism and pragmatism we can come up with better policies for immigration, energy production and use, healthcare, education, national defense, protection of the environment -- but the prgressive approach is so out of line with reason and long term viability, it's incredible that smart people who call themselves educated moderates can't see that this course is disastrous, and that tiny tweaks in legislation will not stop the progressive mission -- it's become a religion to the left -- they are true believers -- and the true believers are controlling the Democrat Party. Instead, the moderates compliment the progressives on their determination and blame the Republicans for not providing tiny tweaks to slow down the negative effects for a few years at best.
The most egregious aspects of the progressive agenda need to be resisted in an unequivocal, principled fashion, otherwise it gives the impression that the Republicans agree with much of the progressive vision, and it weakens public resolve to fight the radical changes -- however, at some point, public resistance will become so strong that even if Republicans capitulate, the public's resolve will only strengthen, and then we'll see a third party arise. This is a time where extreme private sector measures are needed to counteract extreme political measures -- nothing short of unshakable resistance will do. The Democrats have too much power and they are too religious in their progressive beliefs -- not all Democrats, but enough in powerful positions to change America for a long time to come, and to do a great deal of damage to our economy and individual rights. The Democrats who are not true progressive believers are being swept along on the seductive promise of power and control and the final implementation of social justice -- it's the sawdust revival effect - Obama and company have been on one long revival tour and the speeches keep coming. When the smoke clears, what will America look like?
Major healthcare reform has been passed, and people are still learning how this affects the personal lives of citizens and the bottom lines of private companies. It will be a good thing for Republicans to not have any fingerprints on this salmagundi of negative consequences. If this seems radical and unreasonable to pragmatists, I must ask how being a part of the passage would be helpful. It would be surprisingly naive for politically astute moderates to believe that something positive could've been accomplished with Republican input and support, but naivete is not the problem -- it's political calculation that's at issue. The moderates can only believe it would've looked better if Republicans had put more effort into compromise. It's obvious from how imortant this bill is to progressives that they would never go long with Republican support which significantly made the bill more conservative -- in fact, they showed no interest in including major, common sense, free market ideas -- and they were offered.
I listen to a lot of political news, and I heard Republican proposals over and over, so the dishonest narrative that Republicans only said no is totally inexcusable as parroted by pragmatists. The Republicans offered ideas and they weren't accepted -- to say otherwise is nothing but a lie -- a lie that's been repeated over and over. One of the reasons the healthcare debate went on as long as it did, is that progressives insisted on the extreme, controversial, and economic-damaging aspects of the bill against the resistance of some in their own party, so it's obvious they never intended to include Republican ideas, except in weak form that would have no lasting power to moderate the bill. The moderates miscalculated politically, and if the Republican Party had listened to them, it would've been disastrous -- even Snowe and Collins saw this.
So, I have to ask -- how did the moderate pundits miscalculate so badly? The only conclusion I can draw is that they were blinded by mistrust and disdain of the idealists -- Snowe and Collins are politically-centered enough to not allow disdain of the idealists to blind them, but the moderate faction of the Republican Party who are not politicians, not running for office, are not thinking clearly. They might claim this makes their point, that it is they who are acting on principles -- but if so, what principles? Is it possible they think the healthcare bill is good for the country, or do they think that simply by participating in the passage, it would be a politically wise move -- which is it? Either way, their judgement is in question, and their credibility is damaged. No one who has an inkling of empathy for classical liberal principles could think the healthcare bill is good for the country, or that Republcan involvement in its passage would've been politically wise. The moderates appear to be confused regarding what they stand for.
Llet's say the pragmatists believe the bill has many faults, but something had to be done and with some Republican involvement it would have even been marginally better. Let's say they are taking a realist approach which accepts there's no perfection and that elections have consequences. This is a realist approach, but is it valid? First, something needs to be done about the current healthcare system which has been convoluted due mainly to past government intervention -- once Medicare and Medicaide were introduced to the system and regulations prevented free market forces from working, the unintended consequences led to our current healthcare problems. So, although something needs to be done, it's ridiculous to accept more government intervention -- we can argue about the position I've taken, but it will lead nowhere -- you either think that more government intervention can improve the present system or you don't. As an independent who believes that more government intervention will add to costs and create a reduction in quality, I have to disagree with the moderates that although something must be done, that doing what's been done will make things worse.
The question is -- do most independents think that more government intervention will be worse than what we presently have? The polls suggest they do, and my personal experience also leads me to believe that most independents agree with my position -- I'm more libertarian than most independents, but I'm not that much different than the majority who believe the healthcare bill as passed will be bad for the country.
So, how would Republican involvement in the passage of this bill be politically advantageous. The moderates, from this independent's perspective, have been wrong on both acounts -- dangerously wrong -- so wrong, that I have to wonder what motivates them. As I wrote above, the only reasonable explanation is their visceral reaction to the conservative base. I will write about this visceral reaction next.