This election — including the Republican primary contest — is about a fundamental question in American politics: We have an opportunity to decisively turn away from big government in Washington. Do we want to take it?
Conservatives across the country are fed up with President Obama’s Washington approach to governance. Massive, budget-busting, deficit spending (except on defense, where he proposes cuts that are downright dangerous). Bailouts. An ever-mounting national debt. A federal government that has reached its tentacles further into Americans’ lives, by virtue of Obamacare with its noxious individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Excessive, bureaucratically dictated, job-killing environmental regulation. Dodd-Frank. The actions of the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Communications Commission, and countless other agencies. A President who has engaged in offensive recess appointments to pay back his political allies ahead of a race he could well lose. And so on.
Almost universally, Republicans hold in contempt the real-life “ends” of the Obama administration’s policies, though admittedly there are those self-described conservatives who have favored (and even authored) Obamacare-like approaches to health care and policies like cap-and-trade. To us, those ends look decidedly liberal and reminiscent of European social democracies, and out of step with our vision for America.
Yet some conservatives, while rejecting the “ends” have not yet fully rejected the means, despite the fact that many Americans—and not just conservatives or libertarians— have reached the conclusion that the federal government has just become too big and has its fingers in too many pies, with the predictable negative real-world consequences for the rest of us.
They argue that a big intrusive government is fine, desirable even, so long as it pursues “conservative” goals, which frequently when scrutinized are neither conservative nor worthy. Earmarks are okay, as long as they are directed by “conservatives.” Expansions of government like Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind were acceptable because they represented “Republican” policy. Congress spending all its time in Washington, DC, and legislating madly is fine, so long as the congressmen are Republicans and they are pursuing something that the Washington, DC, establishment has deemed “conservative.” It’s okay to have a government so big, so unaccountable and playing with so much money that serving Members of Congress can get rich while on the job, and once off the job, they can get even richer by becoming high-powered corporate consultants before skipping over to K Street itself, to try to grow government and spend even more of your money.
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, we have reached a critical juncture at which government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.
Big government conservatives will never truly overhaul Washington because they need the status quo in place to accomplish their objectives. They don’t want to rebuild the machine; they simply want to change the people pulling the levers.
But that is not what the American people want. There is such deep and widespread discontent that nothing short of a complete overhaul will satisfy their justifiable demands.
The American people expect changes equal to their concern, which is the highest it’s been in at least a generation, and I am the only candidate with a vision that is as strong and sweeping as the public is angry.
While others promise to tinker with the status quo, I am the outsider who will overhaul Washington. Others talk about trimming the bureaucracy; I will eliminate the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Education, gut the activist EPA, freeze bureaucrat salaries and make Congress part-time. Others talk about cleaning up the tax code; I say let Americans throw the whole thing out and pay a simple flat tax instead. Others talk about creating jobs; I alone have worked with the private sector to create more than 1 million jobs while the rest of the country lost 2 million jobs.
This is what the 2012 election is about with the Republican primary process ongoing, and it is what the 2012 general election should be about, too.
Do we want to stick with a big government approach that may, if self-described “conservatives” are in power, deliver up conservative ends, even though that same big government will be used by liberals to advance progressivism the second they get their hands on the reins of power?
Or do we want to try something different—making Washington, DC, as inconsequential as possible in our lives and scaling back the federal government to focus on legitimate national priorities like defense and border security, and leaving other matters like education, for example, to the states and localities?
This is the choice that I believe faces us, as more primaries approach and as Republicans select a nominee. Our answer to the question will determine the outcome of the nomination battle, and it will also determine whether this choice is ultimately presented to the American people in November.
I, for one, hope it will be. America cannot abide another four years of big, intrusive government, no matter its philosophical goals. It’s time for a change. That entails Americans getting a choice.