When one declares oneself to be a conservative, one is not, unfortunately, thereupon visited by tongues of fire that leave one omniscient. The acceptance of a series of premises is just the beginning. After that, we need constantly to inform ourselves, to analyze and to think through our premises and their ramifications. We need to ponder, in the light of the evidence, the strengths and the weaknesses, the consistencies and the inconsistencies, the glory and the frailty of our position, week in and week out. Otherwise, we will not hold our own in a world where informed dedication, not just dedication, is necessary for survival and growth.

William F. Buckley Jr., Feb 8, 1956, NR

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Little U.S. History To Start Us Off

Please see below this post for the Welcome and Introduction Posts
This great experiment called American democracy did not come about easily. Those who settled the colonies and the framers of the Constitution did so with a sense of purpose, yet decisions and compromises were essential. One of the greatest debates in which the delegates to the Constitutional Convention engaged was in deciding the structure of our legislature. In particular, the assignment of delegates to the legislative body was placing the delegates at odds.

Early in the debate there was only one chamber of a legislative body beingdiscussed by the delegates. There were two plans on the table – The Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia plan favored the larger states in that each would have their representatives delegated relative to the population of the state. The New Jersey Plan favored the smaller states as it provided for an equal number of representatives from each state. It was Roger Sherman from Connecticut who proposed what became the Connecticut Compromise, or the Great Compromise, that was passed and implemented the bicameral legislature and the apportionment of senators and representatives.

We spend a great deal of time concentrating on who our president will be. Once in office, we spend our time looking at his policies and his statements. In an international view that is most appropriate, as the President dispatches Ambassadors and is the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. However, the situation is different in domestic politics because of the division of powers between the branches of government. It is our Congress who is responsible for taxation and for spending. It is the Congress where the great debates (or what passes for them these days) occurs. It is in the Congress where policy is established.
In the 1980s, President Reagan slashed the marginal rates of taxes and ended the confiscatory tax policy of the Congress that the democrats had held for decades. The national debt skyrocketed, just as it is doing under President Bush and will continue to do under President Obama. Reagan was promised a decrease in spending to accompany those tax cuts, but Congress never delivered. Congress spends our money, not the President.

It is the Congress that sets the agenda for legislation. The Congress is where the oversight of our government takes place.

So why this particular history lesson at this particular time? The best analogy I can give is a military campaign. In war there are both strategic objectives (the big picture such as defeating Germany in World War II) and tactical action (the operations part such as Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, etc). The strategic objective is accomplished by multiple tactical operations. So if our strategic goal is to demand a return to conservative principles in our party, and a conservative movement within the nation, then we have to define our tactical operations to accomplish that goal. Our first tactical battle that looms is the mid-term elections in 2010. This is the first impact we can have on bringing back conservative leadership in Washington.

These races are every bit as important as the Presidential race. We need to search for good, solid candidates that are conservative and represent real change for our nation. We need new faces, and new energy. We need people who will remain steadfast, and aggressive in taking back our party.

We need people who understand the Reagan Revolution and aren’t afraid to say it.


TAO said...

With the rise of the Imperial Presidency the powers of Congress are minimal at best. Now, if you could talk about a group of renegades that acted in unison without the behind the scenes influence of special interests...lets not forget the "Contract with America" in 1994 and lets not forget the conservative house rebellion in 2008 against the bailout....which lasted only until a few tax cuts were thrown in the deal.

With an Imperial Presidency the ONLY leadership position in Washington is the President. That is the failure of our generation to this country's future.

Joe said...

One of the unfortunate occurances in politics of late is that the MSM has failed to grasp the meaning of the "checks and balances" built into our system and has "taught" a whole generation that the Presidency is primarily a position of power, almost like a monarchy.

Congress had abdicated its responsibilities, prefering to have a "whipping boy," ie: the president; to blame for accomplishments or lack thereof.

It is time to get the Congress and Senate back to actually representing the people, for the President to preside and for the Supreme Court to decide matters based on the Constitution.

The question is, how do we get that accomplished?

My answer is that we must find a way to get the people enthusiastically involved in the process, calling, writing and emailing their representatives on every issue of importance that comes up.

When they see us involved, they will perhaps pay more attention to what's good for us and less to what's good for them.


Anonymous said...

I recently commented about this at another blog, so I hope you will overlook any repetition here. We cannot begin to discuss conservative leadership until we first understand what conservatism means; second, people must rally around those ideas. From within this context, a leader (or several) will emerge.

Why is this important? If we understand the ideas and aspirations of our country’s enemy, then we can deal with it effectively; we can develop, implement, and promulgate our opposing ideology. We have read the enemy's playbook and we understand exactly what Marxists have in store for this country. We know that they aren't ashamed of what they believe, nor do they apologize for it. They subscribe to communism both directly and insidiously.

If we understand anything at all about Marxism, then we realize that such programs offer Americans a dangerously slippery slope. For years now, aided and abetted by Republican “mavericks,” the Democratic Party implemented communist programs undetected by the average citizen, and unreported by the news media.

For years, even during the Reagan Era, the federal government sidestepped the Tenth Amendment in an attempt to weasel their way into running state governments. They didn’t accomplish this by risking state challenges in the courts; they did it by proffering federal money in exchange for compliance. Two examples stand out: highway dollars and Title I money for local schools. Now, having slipped in between the sheets with the federal “John,” states have become as whores for federal money. Anyone who does not realize the damage the federal government has done to public education has been living in a cave for the past sixty years.

Similarly, when the federal government offers to bail out corporations, their intention is to regulate industry, and they justify “national ownership” based on the assumption that since the federal government “invested” in industry, they should have something to say about company management, compliance with “green” legislation, and so on. The economic consequences to this are staggering, because every government mandate represents an increase in costs to consumers.

If we the people are content to allow the federal government to “bail out” failed corporations, then we can also more readily accept the idea that government has an important role in our private lies. Obama’s plan for mandatory community service is but one example; I foresee “tax credits” extended to people in exchange for an obligation of performing some service to the government.

This may be something that most Americans want; it is not anywhere close to the direction I want to see this country moving. Such behavior is anathema to our American (conservative) traditions. It is, as I said, a dangerous and slippery slope. It is subtle, like a cobra, and equally venomous to a free society. If Ford Motor Company cannot compete in a free-market environment, then they should go out of business. If the Ragman family cannot sustain themselves through worthwhile employment, intelligent family budgeting, spending less, having fewer kids . . . then as far as I’m concerned, they can starve.

So to begin with, conservatives must refuse to subsidize or give credence to laziness and idiocy. Otherwise, the happy-go-lucky brainless sheep will sign on to communism without even realizing what they have done. I believe that our federal government is regulated by the Constitution of the United States — but for years, we allowed Congress and administration to ignore it, or trample all over it . . . but like William Ayers tramples on the American flag. Government is evil; more government simply increases this malevolence. If we understand this . . . if we believe it, then we must act on it. Where am I wrong?

Robert said...

Joe, it is unfortunate that the general population is unaware of the roll that the MSM plays in modern politics. They have moved far beyond reporting and far into reforming public opinion.

Mustang, I don't think you are at all wrong in your assertions. Marxism is insideous and we are on a slippery slope, and each election sycle places us sliding at a faster rate. We must demand that our representatives exercise leadership and principle to stop it. We tire of the debates on abortion and gun control and healthcare, but we must continue fighting otherwise we are aiding the fall.

I will have to give some mroe thought to the subject of tax credits in return for service. At the moment, I would oppose the mandate at the college level that students perform community service. However, offering tax credits for voluntary service accomplishes two things - Good works and reduced taxation on anyone who aprticipates. THe mandate allows fro governemnt control of higher education through the witholding of federal funds, the tax credit offers control to students as to whether they participate and if so are rewarded for doing so. I will give it more "Brain processing time" over the next couple of days.

Thanks for joining us here! I have labeled your special coffee cup...I have a few Marine Corps muds...big ones..I have a generic Marine Corp emblem, one that is Camo with a Marine Corps seal, and I have one that is camo with the
2nd MarDiv patch.

I will put your name on the one with the seal...Make yourself at home.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Devildog. That will be my post later today.

Anonymous said...

Tao....I don't think that Congress' responsibilities and power is lessened to any degree. It is increasingly evident that the president is the scapegoat but it is Congress that still holds great power, financially or otherwise.

Joe...."It is time to get the Congress and Senate back to actually representing the people, for the President to preside and for the Supreme Court to decide matters based on the Constitution."

That statement says it all. This election I've heard non-stop about the presidential candidates, but almost nothing about our representatives. In NJ, I have heard complaint after complaint, but then they go and elect the same people. (I can say they, because I certainly did not vote for them) We need to hold them accountable for their decisions and actions rather than using the president as a scapegoat.

Mustang....[We cannot begin to discuss conservative leadership until we first understand what conservatism means]

I am so glad you said that, because that is our goal in the next couple posts. To determine what conservatism is and what we need to do to preserve it.

I have mixed feeling regarding mandatory community service. I understand Robert's view on the positive aspect of killing two birds with ones stone. On the other hand, citizens should be doing things for the country and not asking what's in it for me. We are blessed with liberty and freedom and with that comes the responsibility to give back to your country. I think Kennedy said it best...."Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
It is the take mentality that is destroying the integrity and honor of this country. I think of the woman who was so happy Obama won because she wouldn't have to take care of her mortgage and gas. That is what we will become is we allow ourselves to feel that we need to be repaid for our actions.

TAO said...

Jennifer, the budget originates from the President's office and all congress does is add earmarks to it. The President also has veto power over anything that congress enacts. What makes the President look like a scapegoat is realistically that the size of government is so HUGE no man, no administration can actually control the bureaucracy. Then Congress justs sits over in their building and holds meetings...that none of them attend unless there are cameras in the meeting.

Our government is the like a runaway train....we created a whole new department after 9/11 when it was realized that the existing departments didn't work. Maybe things will work better if we just make them BIGGER? It wasn't that long ago when us true conservatives believed that we should cut the Education department out totally and return education to the states...so what does our conservative president do? Makes the education department BIGGER! Congress has not declared war since WWII now the President can pretty much do what he wants and all congress can do is cut off funds....or pass the bills and slap earmarks on them....earmarks made Sarah Palin pretty popular in Alaska...

It was not Congress that proposed the Wall Street Bail Out...it was the President...and he got it through Congress by taking a three page law and turning it into 400 pages...but he signed the law....

Tapline said...

Wow! Great comments! I read about what the Congress should do and what they don't do. But what about the Black Robed ones? Who is watching what they are doing or not doing and who is holding their feet to the fire. Separation of powers....Looks like no one. I needn't cover what happens when one must bring lawyers onto the battlefield etc...just thought it might be kicked around.....