(Tom Tancredo) – I am more of a baseball fan than a football fan, and I think it is because baseball is more like real life. Baseball players must play both offense and defense, unlike football, where there are two separate teams for offense and defense. Unfortunately, politics is more like football, which leads me to wonder why Republicans play only defense and never play offense.
Republicans are against “big government,” but have no plan for getting to “small government.” Maybe political parties should give up their old-fashioned baseball way of life and adopt rules and strategies more akin to football.
Under new football rules, a political party would field two teams, one team to fight and win elections, and then another to actually run the government. Under the existing baseball rules, Republicans can win elections but not govern. That is because they are good only at defense – stopping bad things from happening, but have no game plan or playbook for scoring touchdowns. Republicans never move the football into enemy territory, never get to the “red zone.”
Alas, Republicans labor under the illusion that politics is about winning elections. When they win an election, they celebrate, and then they go home. But Democrats understand that winning elections is but a means to an end – exercising power and governing the country. The Democratic Party is the party of government, whereas the Republican Party is the party of opposition to government. So, when Republicans do win an election, they are ill prepared to use their powers to make government smaller.
Republicans often lose even when they win, because they have no plan for actually governing in a manner consistent with their platform and principles, which is to say, a plan for restoring constitutional government. Making government bigger is easy, but making it smaller is hard work and can be dangerous to your health.
The Republican mission must be restoring constitutional government, not protecting or preserving it, because the Constitution has been lost. The great dividing line today between conservative Republicans and “RINO” Republicans – Republicans in name only – is between people who understand that our Constitution has already been undermined and those who think “good government” is possible under the socialist principles of progressivism.
Without a plan for governing in a manner consistent with constitutional principles, Republicans can only negotiate with Democrats over how fast or how slow we will move toward a more socialistic society. No Republican in the last 60 years except Ronald Reagan has attempted to reduce the size of government or roll back any major government program.
Republicans won seven of the last 11 presidential elections and occupied the White House 28 of the last 44 years. Republicans win elections, but the government they “manage” is the government Democrats have created. Democrats create big government, then Republicans come along and try to make it run efficiently. What is wrong with that picture?
Beginning with Barry Goldwater, conservatives discovered how the game is rigged to favor big government and have been trying to change it. They want to play offense.
A Republican offensive team worthy of the name would take the time to develop a playbook for constitutional government. It would be a serious, comprehensive plan, with dozens of special initiatives and political scenarios, and ingenious tax cuts, all aimed at rolling back the socialist programs installed by Democrats – and not only Obamacare. Vast mountains of federal bureaucracy and regulations in education, energy, environment, transportation and other realms need a downsizing, areas where government has exceeded its constitutional authority.
Let’s take the Obama proposal for a Value Added Tax as an example. The VAT is not a national sales tax, it is far worse. It taxes every transaction from production to final sale and is designed to finance a vast expansion of the welfare state. Obama and the Democrats want to add the VAT on top of our existing progressive income tax. What is the Republican response? Instead of arguing or negotiating over what level of VAT is needed, Republicans must insist on the repeal of the 16th Amendment, the progressive income tax, as a precondition for the VAT, and must set a constitutional limit on the size of the VAT.
That this idea appears “too radical” illustrates how far Republicans are from having a real football team on the field. Republicans do have a good defense, a team dedicated to blocking new socialist proposals and to replacing Obama in 2012. Then what? Is there a playbook for scoring any touchdowns?
I am thankful that a baseball game has no time limit, but like football, politics does. The clock is running and there are no timeouts. If Republicans are serious about saving the Constitution, time is short. Republicans need more than a new quarterback; they need a plan for governing like real Republicans.
(Mr. Tancredo is a former Republican congressman from Colorado)