The Republican Party has a history of using desperate times to call for drastic measures and when bailing out AIG, bolstering Medicare or bombing Iraq, that party has always been willing to go big and bold on some of the largest government expansions in this nation’s history. But what about cutting government? You know, that stuff GOP politicians always talk about during election time?
One might think that in a political environment in which so many are desperate to reverse what they see as unsustainable government growth, Republican rhetoric might at least attempt to reflect that desperation. But when GOP leaders unveiled their “Pledge to America” last week, the only thing revealed is that these Republicans remain what they have always been-pansies. In a nutshell, the old Republican guard now pledges to save America from the excesses of Obama by basically returning to the level of government we experienced under Bush-when these exact same Republicans were doubling the size of government. The pledge reflects little substance, there’s not even anything about a balanced budget amendment or earmarks-two longstanding but fairly tame Republican gripes-and some of it even promotes GOP statism, with promises to repeal and “replace” national healthcare, and of course, to spend even more money on a “defense” budget that already accounts for half the earth’s military spending.
From the Contract with America in 1994 to the Pledge to America last week, the GOP has broken every contract or pledge it has ever made with conservatives. Now these same Republicans have made another empty promise, similar but even less appealing than the lies they’ve told in the past. This “pledge” is a joke.
When asked to give his take on the Pledge to America, Congressman Ron Paul stated the obvious on FOX Business, “I don’t hear enough precise things we would cut. I never hear that the military-industrial-complex should be addressed. I don’t ever hear that the discretionary and non-discretionary funding is all the same. I never hear which departments they really want to get rid of, so, it goes on and on and you just can’t have a little tinkering on the edges… as long as we want big government you can’t tinker with the edges.”
Tinkering indeed. In a Tea Party environment in which so many are tired of conventional GOP politicians screwing around with the peripheral and irrelevant, why shouldn’t conservatives look to the one Republican who has never screwed around? Instead of wondering if John Boehner is now serious, trying to figure out what Sarah Palin is saying, hoping that Scott Brown turns out to be something special, looking for something worthwhile about Newt Gingrich or wondering which version of Mitt Romney might run for president, why shouldn’t those serious about limiting government get fully behind the one conservative leader who has always been dead serious?
Congressman Ron Paul’s pledge to America is over three decades old and was taken the day he was sworn into office, or as he explained during a 2007 Republican presidential debate: “Hello, my name is Ron Paul. I am a congressman from Texas serving in my tenth term. I am the champion of the Constitution.” Virtually every Republican claims to be for the Constitution, but most with the moral authority of a cheating husband claiming to be a champion of marriage. Paul’s unwavering fidelity to this nation’s founding charter and his peers rampant infidelity can measured by the countless votes in which the Texas congressman stood as the sole opposition to the entire House of Representatives. This distinction is important as so many new Tea Party candidates are now criticized by the mainstream for being “extreme” in suggesting that we should follow the Constitution to the letter of the law, including dismantling the IRS, phasing out Social Security or abolishing the Department of Education. Such constitutionally-minded, nuts-and-bolts suggestions should be included in any serious conservative “pledge” to America-and have all been advocated by Paul his entire career.
To that extent that some conservatives may take issue with aspects of Paul’s constitutional philosophy is more often an invitation for self-examination. For example, many say they like Paul but part ways on foreign policy. Fair enough, but in supporting undeclared wars, the PATRIOT Act and forever empowering the Executive branch, such conservatives shouldn’t delude themselves that they actually stand for the Constitution or limited government in any substantive manner. In fact, they stand with the bulk of the Republican Party, who’ve also long made these constitutional exceptions, along with countless others, and not-so-curiously helped expand government every bit as much as the Democrats. Most Republicans claim to be for the Constitution-“but”-with the biggest “but” typically being a ridiculous and unnecessary foreign policy that costs as much as anything else the Tea Party now targets. Paul has always been for the Constitution, period, no “buts” about it.
So how comprehensively constitutional are conservatives willing to be? Those who wrote the Pledge to America obviously aren’t the least bit serious even as the Tea Party continues to show unprecedented conservative will. If the big government establishment now considers the Tea Party too radical, perhaps conservatives en masse should finally and fully consider the constitutional philosophy of the one man that establishment has also long considered too radical-and for the same reasons. There’s a reason Ron Paul’s influence continues to rise in conjunction with the rise of the Tea Party and to the extent that the movement adopts his philosophy, it will pledge itself to limiting government in a far more serious and comprehensive manner than it would listening to any other figure who now speaks in its name.