The Republican Party is an institutionalized lie. The Bush administration is the embodiment of modern political deception. Unfortunately, some of the people that should know better and should see through the Republican lie don’t. I’m talking about fellow libertarians who still consider the GOP the lesser of two evils.
Pending a Watergate-type miracle, we have four more years of this monstrous administration, four more years to test our resolve for the cause of liberty and to refuse to fall for the Republican deception ever again.
Throughout junior high and high school, I was a young libertarian that often fell for these lies. In 1996 and 2000, I secretly rooted for Dole and Bush. As a fledgling libertarian I admired Reagan, carried books by Rush Limbaugh wherever I went, tuned in to listen to Michael Savage, wished I lived in the "real America" of the red states instead of the territory dominated by the clueless socialist blue, told fellow students they were unpatriotic for preferring Democrats, cheered on the Republicans as they impeached Clinton over high sex crimes and misdemeanors, and dreamt of the day that the Republicans would dominate all three branches of government and bring us back — however gradually — to the Constitutional structure forged by America’s Founding Fathers.
I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.
I don’t distrust Republican rule because I’m young, idealistic and naïve. If it weren’t for all the reading I’ve done, I would probably be a Republican now. I would have been a young conservative at Berkeley, scoffing at the leftist kids with dreadlocks and regarding the radical anti-capitalist left on campus as the greatest threat to human liberty imaginable.
That’s naïve. The disorganized campus left may have some sway, here and there, on the margins of political discourse and maybe even policy. But we’re not going to see a Maoist takeover of America. We’re not going to see Bibles banned and replaced by Das Kapital. What we’re more likely to see is a fascist takeover. I never thought I’d think this, but now I do.
How can the Bush administration — the most anti-liberty, Constitution-shredding, big-government administration to wield power at least since the days of LBJ’s and Nixon’s guns and butter — still manage to convince libertarians that the current political regime is the best realistic chance for liberty? How can a party that has a thirty-five year record of expanding government at a much faster pace than the other party still be perceived as the smaller-government party?
The answer, of course, is deception. The Republicans are much shrewder, much better organized and much more dishonest than the Democrats. The only reason so many libertarians and free market conservatives don’t think so is because the Republicans are also master magicians. They conjure up all sorts of illusions and tricks to convince freedom’s friends that they’re basically on the same side in the cosmic battle against the true enemy — the left.
Illusory Tax Cuts
The Republicans rely on nothing in their bag of tricks more than tax cuts. Under Reagan and Bush II, we have seen reductions in marginal tax rates matched with exploding growth in government spending. This deficit spending allows Republicans to use hidden forms of taxation — borrowing and inflation — to fund all the militarism, corporatism and welfarism they want and buy votes from swing voters, all the while pretending to stand up for the taxpayer.
The rich are overtaxed. But so are the poor and middle class. Hidden Republican tax increases end up hurting this last group the most, while their visible tax cuts do tend to help the rich more. If the Democrats and the left attack these schemes, or any component in them, the Republicans can turn to the libertarians and say: "Look! The Democrats want to raise your taxes! We understand the importance of tax relief; we respect the rights of the individual."
Of course, the Democrats do want to raise taxes on the rich. The left doesn’t understand economics enough to know what’s going on, and so the lefties complain only about the visible tax cuts as opposed to pointing out that the Republicans are in fact raising taxes on all of us through inflationary spending.
The Republicans get everything they want. They can give tax cuts to the rich — which is not in itself a bad thing — securing votes among the affluent as well as the helpless libertarians who prefer some relief to none. They can incite the left to respond with misguided, anti-capitalistic criticisms. They can pretend to be the champions of economic liberty. And they can increase government spending to their heart’s content, sticking us with the bill through the gradual devaluation of the dollar, all the while blaming deficits on the big-government Democrats.
Any reduction in taxes is a blessing. But the Republican tax cuts are not really tax cuts; they are simply illusions — tricks that substitute one form of wealth extraction with another, even more destructive one.
Whereas the Democrats are arrogant and ignorant of economics, the Republicans know exactly what they are doing. Which is more evil?
Another tax fraud the Republicans love is distracting us with promises of simplifying the tax code or instituting a flat tax or national sales tax. Our goal should not be replacing one tax with another. Our goal should be cutting the size of government, which is the only way to reduce the actual tax burden on the American people.
The Republicans also want us to have our own money back, instead of the evil government, or so they tell us. They want to "privatize" Social Security, allowing us to invest a small portion of our payroll taxes into a government-approved private account. They say that full privatization will come in seventy or so years.
Libertarians need to stop falling for this hoax. We can’t trust Republicans who make seventy-year plans any more than we can trust Communists that make five-year ones. No Republican Congressman is going to be alive in seventy years to be held accountable, for one thing. If a Social Security scheme doesn’t immediately set the country on a course toward more liberty for the taxpayers, smaller rates, actual control over private property, and a steady shrinking of the Social Security system, it isn’t a libertarian reform. It’s a scam.
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed…by Democrats
But the Democrats want to round up everyone’s guns, right? Many of them do. Here, too, the Republicans never deliver on their promises. Bob Dole labored hard to push the Brady Bill through Congress. Ronald Reagan and other Republicans pushed through one of the worst gun laws in California history, helping to give my state its reputation as a gun-free zone. George Bush I let his ATF and FBI commit murder at Ruby Ridge, which began as a gun control entrapment ploy.
Every time the Republicans are vying for power, they say America doesn’t need any more gun laws; it needs more enforcement of the current gun laws.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have ten million gun laws that never see enforcement at all than one single gun law stringently enforced by the law-and-order Ashcroft regime.
Bush doesn’t care about the Second Amendment. The Assault Weapons Ban lapsed, but not to his credit; he said he would have signed it if it passed. Bush stonewalled efforts to arm airline pilots. Bush rigorously enforces the unconstitutional, immoral gun laws on the books today. Bush has never proposed to repeal a significant gun control law.
Disarming a population is a perfect recipe for totalitarianism. But another good method is keeping the armed population disarmed with lip service to the Second Amendment, even as you trash the other nine in the Bill of Rights and do nothing to reverse the violence done by previous Republicans and Democrats to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This is the Republican strategy.
The Republicans don’t see the right to bear arms as an inalienable human right, any more than the Democrats see the Fourth Amendment as sacred. The Republicans see the Second Amendment as a political issue, and would without flinching go door to door in America rounding up weapons — just as they have in Iraq — if it suited their authoritarian purposes.
If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would not be impressed by how much the Republicans respect gun rights. He would be amazed that the Republicans have gotten away with as much tyranny as they have, in spite of the armed populace.
Strict Constructionist Judges
Republicans don’t have any use for the Constitution, so it’s a wonder why anyone would assume they would appoint judges that do. Our Supreme Court has seven Republican appointees. The court has upheld campaign finance censorship and although, thankfully, it ruled against Bush’s destruction of habeas corpus rights of "enemy combatants," the Republican hero, Clarence Thomas, was very little help in that brief moment of sanity.
Republicans don’t want judges that rule in favor of federalism, constitutionalism, or common sense. If they believed in any of these principles, they wouldn’t pass such blatantly atrocious legislation and wage such horrendously unconstitutional wars. Republicans want judges that will approve of their despotism. Simple as that.
Democrats believe in public schooling, probably more than Republicans. Republicans, on the other hand, don’t believe in public schooling but they love the power it brings, nevertheless.
Under Republicans, federal education spending has increased about 50%, and the Department of Education budget has gone up about 70%. I saw a top Republican on television say that, unlike his party members in the 1970s and 1980s, the Republicans have now given up on the idea of ending federal education control. They’re willing to admit they lost that battle, but now they want to use federal education to shape America according to Republican values. This is what he said.
Again, we see what the Republicans are about. They know that government education is an attack on liberty and families — they know it better than the Democrats do. And yet, they have no problem increasing the scope of and spending on federal education. How could they do this, knowing the destruction to federalism and the human spirit caused by such policies?
They do know. That’s why they do it.
Protecting Us From "The Liberal Media"
Throughout the nineties, we all heard about the liberal media. They gave Clinton a pass for everything he did. Meanwhile, the lefties said there were no liberal media; the media were corporate-run, so they’re obviously conservative. Many of us libertarians laughed at such a preposterous notion. Obviously, the media were liberal.
In actuality, both claims are partly right and partly wrong. The media aren’t "liberal" or "conservative." The press is, overwhelmingly, pro-government. Sometimes that means liberal, other times that means conservative.
Many libertarians, however, still believe the lie that the media are simply liberal. What this means is that when CNN puts the Iraq War under the most timid of scrutiny, the American Right can scream foul. The Republicans claim that the media, being liberal and all, are clearly out to make Bush’s "catastrophic success" in Iraq look like more of a failure than it is.
This is nonsense. The mainstream press has indeed done a terrible job at reporting the War on Terror, but not for the benefit of Bush’s detractors. The press rarely asks administration officials any tough questions, the major networks never question the underlying assumptions of this insane war, and the "embedded" reporters have become a de-facto tentacle of the White House.
The reason we occasionally see chaos and death in Iraq on CNN and NBC is because that’s what’s going on there. In actuality, it’s much worse than what we see on the nightly news. One hundred thousand Iraqis have likely died because of Bush and Cheney’s murderous adventure. That should be on the news every day. The administration has lied constantly, before and after the invasion, about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam’s contempt of the United Nations and the nature of US occupation. The talking heads should be screaming aloud, calling for the impeachment and trial of Bush for war crimes.
The "liberal media" probably did want to see Bush lose, but they were quite poor at teaching Americans the basics about current events. Forty-two percent of Americans, and probably most Bush voters, still think Saddam was "directly involved" in 9/11. This can’t be blamed on a "liberal" anything.
The "liberal media" might be the Republicans’ best trick of all. During the Clinton years, they bashed the media as being too easy on Clinton, and libertarians were forced to agree.
Now the Republicans claim that Bush’s reelection is a populist rejection of the "liberal anti-Bush media" and Hollywood. How ingenious is that? Whereas in previous centuries — and, according the Republicans, as recently as the 1990s — the press was there to protect the people from the government, now all of a sudden we’re supposed to believe that Americans are rallying around the president to protect them from the evil press.
Don’t fall for it. Just because most news correspondents are "socially liberal" on certain issues doesn’t mean that they are making Bush look worse than he is. Such a feat is nearly impossible.
Pity the Power Elite
The Republicans want to be victims. They blame the left for burdening the country with a victim mentality, but listen carefully to what they say. Pity the conservative college students, who must put up with socialist professors. Pity Big Business — including the government contractors — for paying all the taxes and being the most persecuted group in America. Pity the poor president, who has more political power than has ever been concentrated in one man’s hands on earth, because people like Michael Moore hate him so irrationally. Pity America the Superpower, which tries hard to run the world and yet is despised by those who don’t want to be bombed, maimed and invaded.
Republicans like to have in both ways. They pretend to be on the side of the people, not the government, even as they control the government and strip away our liberties. They pretend to be for the free market, even as they increase spending and enact outdated New Deal schemes. They pretend to be the party of the Founding Fathers, even though they are running a global empire that even the most statist of the Federalists would have considered the very embodiment of tyranny.
They want us to pity them, the bold protectors of our freedom against the pathetic and out-of-power left. They want us to fear the leftism of Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin, who have no power over us whatsoever, while they run the biggest government in the history of the world. They want us to think we have something in common with them — a love for liberty — even as they rob us blind, pound us into submission, and use our resources to conduct mass murder on innocent people thousands of miles away.
They want to be regarded as the underdog when they are the most powerful and dangerous power elite ever to rule the world.
The Republican Party, from its beginnings, has never been a party of small government. And yet, some libertarians are relieved that Bush has won. More perversely, some are glad he won and that the Republicans have gained in Congress.
The Democrats are rotten; I’ve never said otherwise. But the Republicans, if anything, are worse. Certainly, they’re the ones in power, and so they’re the ones to target as the main enemies of freedom.
The Republicans love to pretend they’re on our side when they’re not in power, and when they grab power they keep the illusions going, in any ways they can, to keep as many lovers of liberty duped into thinking that this is the best we can do, that the Republicans are preventing a socialist takeover even as they institute fascism with every law they pass and war they wage.
Don’t be distracted by other enemies from the left, who also target the Bush regime for their own reasons, some good and some bad. Don’t let the fact that the left thinks No Child Left Behind is "under-funded" distract you from the truth that the Republicans have nationalized education in unprecedented ways. Don’t let the leftist attacks on Bush’s warfare state make you the least bit sympathetic to the war.
One of the few reasons many libertarians think the Republicans are preferable is a matter of aesthetics. The Democrats are simply shrewder, slimier, and more dishonest.
That’s the greatest Republican lie of all. Here is a party that has enlarged government far more than the opposition, and yet is still perceived — even by those who should know better — as the party of smaller government. Here is a party that calls itself pro-life, even as it federally funds abortions and cherishes war. Here is a party that lies about weapons of mass destruction and aggressively bombs, invades and occupies a country that meant us no harm, and gets away with saying the media are too hard on them and that Clinton was the real liar. Here is a party that accepts every fundamental premise in the culture of statism and favors the continuation or amplification of every government program under the sun, and yet can get away with talking about how they take our side, not the side of the government they control. That’s shrewd. That’s slimy. That’s dishonest.
The Republicans have done too much damage, and no good, to the cause of liberty. They have made both right and left think that capitalism is the equivalent of imperialism, guaranteeing we will have neither true economic liberty nor peace, and marginalizing those of us who want both. These rabid elephants in sheep’s clothing have taken far too many libertarian lambs to the slaughter, all the while pulling our own rhetorical wool over their eyes.
It is not hating capitalism or America to distrust Republican rule. It is simply resenting being ruled by people who refuse to admit they are despots. Just as the Communists pretended to care for the common man, even as they slaughtered millions, the Republicans pretend to respect our freedoms even as they attack them without relent. Just as the Communists were arguably worse than the fascists, because of their façade, so too the Republicans are worse than the Democrats, for they pretend to be something that they most certainly are not.
My hope and dream is that America’s true partisans of freedom will put aside some of their minor differences, at least for now, and recognize that the current regime is not the lesser of two evils, it is not protecting us from something worse, it is not something to be thanked for our remaining liberties and puny tax refunds. It is not the representative of the free world, or the guardian of capitalism, or the defender of the Constitution. What we see when we look in the face of George W. Bush, a man who got more Republican votes than any other man in history, is the face of tyranny. It is not the face of a lesser of two tyrannies; forget about such distracting thoughts. Focus on the Republicans who rule America, and realize that these are the greatest enemies of freedom in our time.
Don’t be tricked. Don’t be deceived. We have four more years of these guys, so keep your guards up. Let’s never get fooled again.
Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He is a research assistant at the Independent Institute. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.