by Jacob G. Hornberger
Dana Milbank’s column in the Washington Post yesterday, entitled “A Storm Inside the GOP Convention,” detailed some rather shabby treatment of Ron Paul and his delegates by Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment. Milbank writes: “The Romney campaign had taken pains to stifle the Paul rebellion, by denying him a speaking role, expediting the roll call, changing party rules and even unseating Paul delegates from Maine. ”
Not surprisingly, such actions produced an angry, vocal reaction from the Paul contingent at the convention.
So, why did Romney do it? After all, he had the nomination sewn up. Why not embrace the Paul crowd instead of alienating it? Why not seat all the Paul delegates who were elected according to the existing rules, given that the final outcome wasn’t in doubt anyway? Why not give Paul a speaking slot?
Milbank attributes the fiasco to Romney’s penchant for control. He writes: “Romney is by many accounts a control freak, a stickler for rules and order. His campaign, following his instincts, runs the same way.…”
But the problem goes much deeper than that. It goes to the visceral hatred of libertarian philosophy that pervades the Republican establishment.
Ever since the New Deal, Republicans have engaged in a charade in which they have portrayed themselves to American voters as fundamentally different from Democrats. According to the charade, Republicans are for reducing the size of government and reducing federal spending, taxes, and regulations. Democrats, on the other hand, are portrayed as the party of big government, big spending, high taxes, more debt, and socialism.
So, Republicans have long argued, the choice for Americans is clear and distinct. If you believe in small government, free enterprise, and a sound fiscal policy, vote Republican. If you believe in big government, a managed economy, and out-of-control spending and debt, vote Democrat.
The problem is that it’s all a big fraud. After the New Deal, Republicans realized that the American people were being swept up in the statist tide that FDR had ushered in. They were faced with a critical choice: Should they maintain their allegiance to principles of economic liberty and limited government or should they join the statist tide?
Republicans realized that if they stuck with the principles, they would very likely be rejected by the electorate for years, maybe decades, to come. If they instead surrendered and embraced statism, they still had a chance for political power by coming up with ways to reform or improve the statism that America was now embracing.
The Republicans chose the latter. In the hopes of continuing to be elected to political power, they surrendered their principles and embraced the new statism.
In the process though, they retained their mantras. One of their favorite ones is “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” But the mantras were lies and delusions given the fact that Republicans favored the welfare state and, equally bad, the warfare state, both of which were expanding exponentially in size and expenditures (and monetary debasement) as each decade passed.
Social Security? Republicans ended up embracing it. Same for Medicare and Medicaid. Same for farm subsidies, education grants, SBA loans, food stamps, and all sorts of other welfare-transfer programs. The only welfare program they would periodically object to was welfare to the arts.
It was no different with such things as drug laws, economic regulations, managed trade, immigration controls, and the myriad of welfare and regulatory departments and agencies within the federal government. Republicans, like Democrats, came to embrace them all.
It was the same with the warfare state. After World War II and especially after the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, Republicans began completely deferring to the military and the CIA, giving them whatever they wanted, which was always more money and more power to protect “national security.” Military bases all over the world. Foreign aid, including to dictatorships. Regime change operations. Assassinations. Coups. Invasions. Interventions. The military and the CIA and the entire national-security state became a dominant force in American society and the driving force of U.S. foreign policy, thanks in large part to Republicans.
That obviously raised some important questions. One was: How are you Republicans different, in principle, from Democrats? Another was: How can you reconcile your devotion to a welfare state and a warfare state with the free-enterprise, private-property, limited-government mantras you preach?
But the problem was that Democrats had no interest in raising those types of questions. They loved it that Republicans had joined them in their statist cause. The last thing they wanted to do was to shame or embarrass Republicans into abandoning statism.
So, the whole battle between Democrats and Republicans evolved into a fight over which party and which candidate would be a better manager of the welfare state and the warfare state, with one major difference: Republicans continued telling people, including their children, how devoted Republicans were to “small government, free enterprise, sound fiscal policy, low taxes, the Constitution, and limited government.”
Why do Republicans resent libertarians so much and wish they would just disappear? Why do they have those enormous ballot barriers, such as petitioning requirements in elections? Why do they come up with all sorts of inane reasons to block libertarians from participating in electoral debates? Why do they treat libertarians so shabbily?
Because libertarians, by their very nature, point out the Republican charade to people. With our genuine devotion to free-enterprise, limited-government principles and our principled opposition to the welfare-warfare state, we expose the life of the lie that they have long lived. We bring their delusion to the surface. And they resent us deeply for doing that.
How can a person truly be in favor of individual freedom, freedom of choice, free enterprise, free markets, private charity, personal responsibility, the Constitution, and limited government while, at the same time, supporting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid to dictators, income taxation and the IRS, regulations, Gitmo, indefinite detention, denial of trial by jury, undeclared wars, torture, foreign military bases, and all the other aspects of the welfare-warfare state?
The last thing Mitt Romney and his supporters want is for people to figure out the scam. If people figure out that Romney and Obama are mirror images of each other — that they share the same overall philosophy — then the gig is up. They’ll see that it really doesn’t matter whether it’s Obama or Romney who is elected. The country will continue in the same direction — toward statism, along with its inevitable consequences — recessions, depressions, impoverishment, war, conflict, violence, terrorism, militarism, corruption, and ever-increasing taxes, debt, inflation, and loss of liberty.
Thus, it’s not difficult to see that libertarians pose a tremendous threat to the Republican establishment. As the Ron Paul campaign has shown, once people listen to libertarian philosophy and ideas, a certain percentage of them achieve a “breakthrough” that enables them to break free of the lies and the delusions that are central to Republicanism.
That’s why they’re doing their best to shut down and silence Ron Paul and all other libertarians. They don’t want any more people hearing about and considering libertarianism. It’s just too dangerous to the statist establishment, both Republican and Democrat.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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