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Conservatives, please listen

January 28, 2017

I wrote one to progressives, so it’s only fair conservatives get one, too.

Jon Gabriel, writing for the Arizona Republic, had something interesting to say a few days ago. The short version is this: regardless of whether you’re a liberal or progressive who is fearful of a Republican president or a conservative who is fearful of a Democratic one, there is a solution that will work for both. Gabriel puts it this way as regards not only this president, but any president:

“Take away as much of his power as you can so it doesn’t much matter much who controls the White House.”

I like the idea. It’s a simple though not necessarily easy answer. If the person in the White House has less power, there is far less he or she can do to you, me or anyone else. As much as I like it, I see a problem. “How can that be” you ask? In the same article, Gabriel touches on what I see as the big obstacle. Here’s the quote:

“I recommend everyone step back, take a few breaths from a paper bag, and ask why control of the government is so damn important to partisans of both sides.”

Do you see it? Here it is: control of the government is important, frightfully important, to partisans or ideologues. Frightfully is not mere hyperbole. This intense desire of some to control government should frighten all of us. Here, then is the danger to conservatives and the rest of us – the temptation to use power to do to the Left, and ultimately all of us, what they did to you.

After years of being vilified and disdained, conservatives (or at least Republicans) now control the White House, the US Senate, the US House of Representatives and both legislative chambers in 32 states. In addition, 33 states have Republican governors, 24 of which are in states in which the GOP also controls both legislative chambers. Why is this risky? Because with power comes the temptation to use it.

So, my conservative friends, what will you do? How far will you go in pressing your agenda? You haven’t been in this position since the days of Calvin Coolidge. What will you do with your new-found power? In your enthusiasm to “roll back” many of Barack Obama’s arguably ill-conceived, anti-freedom and frankly unconstitutional policies, laws and executive orders, will you be able to stop? Are you willing to stop?

Will you now consider it the business of government to determine the adults with whom other adults may have sex? In your zeal to protect marriage will you leave the decision as to which adults may marry in the hands of a government that not too long ago made a determination you didn’t like?

The idiots that crawl out of the woodwork in happiness vary depending on the party in power. This time, it’s the lunatic fringe on the right that seeks to find legitimacy in a Trump presidency. Are you willing to accept the responsibility of leadership and lead the charge in calling them the bigoted pigs they are?

Now that you’re in power, how’s that “small government” philosophy doing? Are you still okay with it? I mean, after all, you could do a lot of good if you expanded power just a little bit here and there, huh?

Now that you’re in power, has your opposition to the interventionism of Obama and Clinton been replaced with interventionism that simply has other targets and goals?

Ultimately, now that you’re in power, are you willing to be the ones that hold our governments “feet to the fire” in the interest of freedom, or will you make the easy decision that because your ideology and policies are different then making government bigger and stronger is okay, because, you know, GOP?

I can be even more plain. People of all political stripes talk a lot about freedom and liberty. Far too often, what they mean is they want people free to do things their way. Democrats want people free to do things the Democrat’s way and Republicans want them free to do things the GOP way. That’s not freedom. That’s an oligarchy that rewards or grants privileges to those who believe and do the right things.

You have an opportunity to do something amazing. You can, yes, undo much of the damage done to freedom by the previous administration (and several which came before). More than that, you can exercise restraint, and pressure those you elected to do the same, in making new laws. You can reduce the power and reach of government, or at least get the process started. You can enshrine the principles of the Constitution in everything you do. Or, you can continue the ever-marching increase of governmental power and intrusion while pretending it’s okay this time because it’s “for a good cause.”


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