Let’s Get Radical - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Let’s Get Radical

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.

  • It’s time to stop making our tax code more progressive. As fewer and fewer Americans pay income tax, fewer and fewer Americans care about the cost of government. They need to care. Everybody with taxable income over $30,000 should have to pay at least 2 percent of their income in federal income tax (excluding payroll taxes). If we can’t get all the way to a flat tax, there should be three marginal tax rates: 12 percent up to $75,000 of income, 18 percent up to $500,000 of income, and 15 percent above $500,000 of income. That’s right, have the tax rate drop at a high income level in order to encourage the most productive members of society to produce more, and to reward them for the fact that they already pay a wildly disproportionate share of the burden of government. And while you’re at it, slash the capital gains rate to ten percent and index capital gains to inflation so investors and job creators aren’t penalized when the real (in the economic sense of the word) value of their shares or companies have not increased.
  • The corporate income tax isn’t actually borne by corporations but rather by people, namely shareholders, employees, and customers. A Congressional Budget Office working paper concludes that “domestic labor bears slightly more than 70 percent of the burden of the corporate income tax.” The United States should eliminate its corporate income tax entirely. As President Obama trotted out doctors to support Obamacare, Republicans should bring forward employers to talk about the number of new jobs they could create and the raises their workers could get if the corporate income tax disappeared.
  • The minimum wage benefits unions at the expense of first-time job seekers and minority youth and young adults. Furthermore, if the government has no role telling you the price at which you can sell your home, your car, your company’s widgets, a meal from your restaurant, or an oil change you provide at your auto shop, why do they have a role in telling you the price at which you can sell your labor, perhaps the most personal of all your possessions? Eliminate the federal minimum wage and let each state experiment with its own policies.
  • The FDA kills and causes the prolonged suffering of thousands of Americans annually by preventing the use of not-fully-proven drugs even if the desperately ill would be willing to try them. Allow doctors and patients to employ any drug regimen they believe might cure a disease or alleviate its symptoms as long as all known and likely side effects are disclosed to the patient by the doctor and to the doctor by the pharmaceutical company. Include tort reform limiting the ability of lawyers to sue drug companies or doctors who accurately provide relevant information to patients in the inevitable event that some patients show no improvement or have negative, even fatal, reactions to treatment. This proposal not only has its obvious specific benefits but awakens Americans to the government assault on Americans’ ability to make so many important and personal choices in our lives.
  • Eliminate the federal Department of Education. Initially block-grant its current level of redistributed money back to the states but phase that out over a decade so that the federal government is removed from involvement in education, allowing states to make their own choices and demonstrate to other states what works (and what doesn’t). How often do you get an argument for shrinking government that can appeal to suburban moms?
  • End all agricultural subsidies. ’Nuf said.
  • Require any legislation that adds a program which increases government spending or regulation to eliminate $2 of other spending for every $1 of new spending or two existing regulations for every one new regulation. (The eliminated regulations should each have a similar estimated net cost to society as the cost of the new regulation.) In short, every spending and regulatory increase must be a net spending or regulatory decrease, requiring politicians to make real decisions about what spending and what regulations are truly important and freeing us from the burden of the rest.
  • End federal mandatory minimum sentences, “three strikes” provisions, and all prison sentences for non-violent low-level drug crimes (including marijuana possession and the sale of marijuana to adults). This, along with minimizing discussion of social issues at the federal level (which is not to suggest that conservatives abandon their principles in these areas) is a great way to begin to attract younger and minority voters. The GOP may not get a minority of any such group, but they don’t need a majority to win, just a larger share than they’ve been able to earn recently.

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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