May 11th, 2009

Incrementalism or all or nothing?

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Written by: Constitution Daily

elephantfightingDemocrats win. Republicans lose. Those four words sum up the recent history of this country pretty well. Sure Republicans have won a few battles but the war is definitely going to the Democrats. Whether we are talking about social or fiscal issues, the Democrats’ record is stellar. Ours on the other hand, couldn’t be much worse. So that got me thinking, why?

Of course there are numerous reasons why we continue to lose but I’d like to hit on strategy first. In fact, we’ve been having this argument in Iowa since gay marriage happened. Do we go the all-or-nothing approach or do we take what we can get and live to fight another day?

Democrats have incrementally increased our taxes, killed our babies, redefined the family, environmentally handicapped us, grown government, and basically stripped us of any real sense of personal responsibility. We didn’t just wake up one day and get to where our government currently is. It happened slowly and purposefully and I want it to turn around. So, let’s copy them.

I know it goes against the grain of many of us to run the ball rather than throw a Hail Mary pass. But when the other team has intercepted everything you’ve thrown at them and ran it back for a touchdown, you better have something else in the playbook.

To continue with the football analogy, we obviously have our backs up against the goal line. It is nothing new to us but rather than continue down the same road, we absolutely must pursue a better strategy. And the one that seems to work the best is incrementalism.

Let’s look at what Democrats have done with socialized health care. In the 90s, Hillary Clinton introduced and pursued Hillary Care. It failed miserably and was widely thought of as a blow to Hillary Clinton’s political leverage. That couldn’t have been more inaccurate. On their side of the aisle, she has been a hero for almost two decades. But the main point is, they didn’t stop after they lost the initial debate. They kept running the ball and passing minor pieces of legislation to help attain their true goal of socialized health care. The most recent example is SCHIP. They take the path of least resistance, children’s’ health care, and keep taking small bites until sooner or later, they’ve consumed the whole pie.

Now onto our side. I’ll use taxes for my example. Republicans all agree our taxes are too high and too complicated. There are two approaches. The first is to cut a tax here and there without introducing major reform. The other is to only introduce major reform with a FairTax or flat tax. Of course we can’t get consensus within our own party to only push one or the other. But the main point stands. Wouldn’t it be stupid for us to never introduce legislation to decrease taxes and only introduce the FairTax? Wouldn’t it also be stupid to only introduce small cuts here and there and never introduce major reform? What would have happened to taxes in the past almost 100 years if Republicans weren’t there reducing taxes at both the state and federal levels? Of course they didn’t do enough when they had a chance but you know the Democrats would have our tax system even more screwed up than it already is. If you look through history when our tax rate is increased, almost every time it is when the White House and Congress was controlled by Democrats. The reverse is true when Republicans were in control.

According to some on our side, since we are still losing the issue of taxation, an incrementalist strategy is doomed to failure. But I ask them, how can that be true only for Republicans and not Democrats? I also ask this: What major all or nothing approaches have worked for the Democrats?

What rubs me wrong the most is those who are most engaged in the process are taking most of the heat from some on our side. Even worse is when good conservatives are labeled as capitulators or RINOs for advancing conservative ideals at a step by step basis. That doesn’t mean they aren’t for the final goal, it just means they understand the system, society, and history well enough to utilize the best strategy to advance our platform.

Now I know when I say RINO, many of you are rolling names around in your head like John McCain or Arlen Specter. And you are assuming I’m advising to go along and get along with these folks. But I’m not saying that at all. When Republicans go against the platform, jump them and don’t let up the pressure. But when a strategy is pursued that goes with our platform but doesn’t automatically and swiftly reach our main goal, we must support it. For if we don’t, we will fail.

And I’ll leave you with this final thought. If the tables were turned and Republicans had huge majorities at all levels of government and had the necessary support from the people to abolish the IRS and institute a new tax system, what do you think would happen? Could Republicans agree on a new system? Do you honestly think we could even compromise within our own party and pass a good piece of legislation? If your answers are the same as mine, maybe the real root of our problem is we don’t have major reform items that we all agree on. It’s kind of hard to throw a Hail Mary when you don’t have a football. Just like it is kind of hard to run in the right direction when you don’t know where the goal line is.

About the Author

Constitution Daily
An Iowa based blog with the purpose of giving incentive to those actively engaged in conservative causes. Content will include Iowa and national issues ranging from politics to everyday society, but in every case you will know where Constitution Daily stands. Please feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected]

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