Liberal pundits are wetting themselves over the supposed “radicalization” of the Republican Party, their cries ever more plaintive with the rise of Donald Trump as the GOP front-runner. (See here, here, here, and here.) Other than Trump’s call to deport the American citizen children of illegal aliens — radical in its political, logistical, and legal insanity — and his characterization of high CEO pay as a “complete joke” and “disgraceful” — radical for its being a perennial Democratic talking point and one of the first campaign issues dishonestly put forward by Hillary Clinton — very little that Trump says, to the extent that he ever says anything of substance, is outside the parameters of long-running conservative discussion.
At the same time, a self-described socialist who isn’t even a Democrat and has never met an economically harmful idea that he didn’t love now leads presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders is truly radical, though even he, only slightly more than Trump’s relationship to the GOP, is not that far outside the usual conversation of an ever-more-leftist Democratic Party. But finding a “mainstream” media report noting the radicalization of the Democrats would be a suitable final challenge on a high-stakes scavenger hunt.
Expecting or encouraging media recognition of the fact that each political party has been moving for years toward more consistent support of its philosophy — explaining the demise of “moderates” in both parties — is a pointless exercise. Today’s reporters and editors only perceive a “radicalization” of the right because their personal views are so deeply “Progressive” that they don’t see calls for “free” college, punitive taxation of the successful, or even attacks on police as radical.
So as long as the GOP is going to be called radical, why don’t they actually give the people some radical ideas to consider? Why don’t they endeavor to move the conversation aggressively toward economic liberty, limited government, and other principles which prior heroic radicals such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington would recognize as the very purpose of our nation’s existence?
There may be a few such ideas hiding within the bullet points of a handful of Republican candidates, but with Donald Trump getting all of the media’s attention nobody is hearing them. Somebody who can actually get in front of a camera needs to start shaking things up, start goring sacred cows, start rousing the great middle of America from a deep policy slumber. Indeed, shaking things up with boldness may be what allows a candidate to get in front of a camera during these otherwise Trumpaholic days.
The first excellently radical idea I’ve heard in months came Monday from the struggling campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who made a name for himself by taking on — and repeatedly beating — public sector unions in Wisconsin.
Walker is calling for ending union representation of all federal government employees (FDR and even the former head of the AFL-CIO would agree), making all workplaces “right-to-work” unless a particular state votes differently, shutting down the National Labor Relations Board (which has turned into one of the most effective cudgels of the Obama administration’s ceaseless attack on business), barring automatic withdrawal of union dues from paychecks (to the extent that the dues go to fund political activities), and for various changes to union organizing methods (changes which union bosses won’t like one bit).
It’s smart politics for a man who has gone from a GOP front-runner to running on fumes; from first in polling in Iowa to seventh in less than two months. But more important (to me, if not to Walker) than the politics is the radicalness of the message — which I mean as a high compliment.
An AP article anticipating Walker’s announcement noted that “experts were taken aback by the scope of Walker’s proposals.” A professor of labor law is quoted thusly: “I’ve never seen anything like this. This will take the breath away from anyone who’s worked in labor relations for any length of time. … It’s pretty draconian.”
It’s time for Republicans to start taking “experts” aback, time to take away the breath of status-quo statists of both parties and the reporters, editors, and pundits who support them whether out of intention or inertia. Not with narrow, populist appeals to emotion and misunderstanding but with policy positions aimed at waking Americans up to how far our political system, under Democrats and Republicans alike, has drifted from supporting limited government and liberty and instead become their chief opponent.
With that in mind, I offer a few modestly radical proposals to be taken up by brave Republicans who really want to move the debate and not just argue how the GOP can more efficiently manage an ever-expanding governmental Leviathan.
If Republicans are going to take the media pummeling for being “radical,” they might as well get something out of it. That something — really the only purpose of the Republican Party — is to move America back toward being a country conceived in liberty by men who were truly radicals, and thank goodness for that.
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