Republicans are the party of small government. They’re happy to tell you that each time there’s an election. They hate Big Government. If you’ll just vote them into power, they’ll shrink government and lower your taxes.
If you believe that, you’re a sucker.
Most people who dislike the GOP and who oppose it do so because they oppose its rhetoric. They’re either Democrats who have partisan reasons for cheering “their team” or they’re progressive left ideologues who favor a bigger, more activist role for government — for one reason or another.
But even though I’m a former Republican — and spent years trying to elect Republican candidates professionally — I find the GOP terribly hypocritical and unworthy of support. Even if I still believed in the concept of majoritarian rule — and I don’t — Republicans have proven over and over again that they’re not going to deliver on their promises to cut the size of government.
When Republicans took over the state Legislature in Alabama a few years back, they came roaring to power promising to cut government, roll back taxes and generally live up to all those glib promises we wrote for GOP candidates for years.
Guess what? They didn’t really mean all that stuff they said. They just wanted to get elected.
Oh, sure, they don’t want government to be as big as the Democrats want it to be. They want to make sure they slash anything the can be seen as “welfare,” at least if it’s going to lower-class people. (Let’s don’t talk about “welfare” for huge companies. That’s perfectly acceptable, for some reason, so let’s just call it “economic development” and pretend it’s a good thing.) But when push comes to shove, Republicans want government to have plenty of power and they’re just as eager as Democrats ever were to wield that power themselves when they ran the state.
When Republicans in the Alabama Senate had the chance to pass a bill that would have gotten the state out of the retail liquor business, they had the votes to do it. On the 13-member committee that had to pass the bill, only three were Democrats, but four of those “conservative” state senators — all of whom tell voters at election time how much they oppose Big Government — joined with the three Democrats to stop the bill.
As a result, the state of Alabama will continue to own and operate a huge chain of retail liquor stores. Private liquor stores exist, but they’re forced by law to buy their booze from the state at artificial prices. Essentially, the state has given itself a virtual monopoly. There is absolutely no logical reason for the state to be in this business. Nobody who wants smaller government could oppose any bill to shut down this boondoggle which hurts consumers and keeps the size of government big.
But these “limited-government Republicans” stopped the bill.
The state agency that operates the retail stores lobbied hard to kill the bill. Those 600 state employees wanted to keep their jobs. But other than the bureaucrats who operate the agency and the employees who run the stores, who else benefits from this system? As far as I can tell, absolutely nobody.
If Republicans can come to power in a conservative state — promising to slash the size of government — yet turn away from the opportunity to get rid of 600 state employees who are competing (unfairly) with private businesses, tell me what exactly they really are going to cut.
The current Republican governor of Alabama first ran for office in 2010 on a pledge to stop new taxes. He repeated that pledge in 2014 and was re-elected. But now that he’s safely re-elected — and he’s not eligible for a third term — Gov. Robert Bentley proposed more than $500 million in new taxes just after his second inauguration.
In other words, the Republican governor lied. He had to know when he was running last fall that he was going to propose these taxes just a few months later. He said whatever it took to get elected — and people swarmed to the polls to vote for a “limited-government conservative Republican.”
Conservatives who see this grim reality frequently come to the bizarre conclusion that they simply have to work even harder to elect “the right people” who will actually do the things that standard Republican rhetoric calls for. But this amounts to Sisyphus telling himself that if he’ll just push that boulder harder, it won’t roll back this time.
People who run for office will say what you expect them to say to be elected. (I know. I used to write their rhetoric.) When it comes time to deliver on their promises, they’ll frequently twist themselves into all sorts of contorted positions to justify breaking those promises.
You will never bring about “limited government” — if such a thing can even exist — through elections.
If you’re a fan of Big Government, I understand why you favor Democrats, but I can assure you that you have nothing to fear in the long run from Republicans. Don’t listen to their rhetoric. Ignore what they say during campaigns. Look at what they actually accomplish insofar as rolling back Big Government. Ronald Reagan came to power promising to shutter the departments of Education and Energy, for instance. As far as I can tell, conservatives are still waiting for that to happen. (And let’s not even talk about how much the size of government grew under this “conservative” president.)
If you oppose Big Government, stop deceiving yourself. Stop believing that the GOP is going to deliver. They’re simply going to promise you — again and again — whatever you want to hear and then they’re not going to deliver.
If you want to end Big Government, you need another path entirely. Even if you don’t see that path clearly yet, it’s obvious that trusting Republicans and hoping for elections to change things is a losing strategy.
Every bit of time, effort and money you devote to electing “limited-government Republicans” is a moment you’re not preparing yourself for the inevitable day when this entire house of cards collapses, both economically and socially. You’re wasting your life.
Work on your own life and prepare for your own future — with the realization that Republicans aren’t going to save you or the country.