By Alex Gonzalez
The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection–Federalist No. 10
There is confusion about where the Republican Party needs to go for its survival. Some groups claim to want to take the GOP back to where the Founding Fathers meant when they drafted the Constitution. The groups promoting this ideal would like to suggest that the GOP needs a “revolutionary” push to drive the Party further to right as they mean to fix our fiscal woes. But our fiscal woes began 30 years ago when both Parties refused to overhaul entitlements, and this had had nothing to with the Constitution. And, in the process, these groups aggressively attack the youth and Latinos. Thus the reality is that these groups preaching an ideological hardening of the Republican Party are merely creating a paralysis in Congress to protect subsidies and entitlements. Their goal is simple; create an ideological paralysis to extend the status quo as much as possible under pseudo Constitutional claims.
Those groups attacking the GOP like to claim that they want to take the Republican Party back to what the Founding Fathers intended. Though we cannot precisely guess what the Founders really believed, we can certainly say that they did not want any revolutionary groups threatening the nation and our political system. So they drafted a Constitution with mechanisms to prevent revolutionary “mobs” from taking government. Here are the main prevision to prevent revolutionary populists from taking power:
- Who could vote: When the Founders drafted the Constitution, they did think everybody should vote so they drafted the Constitution making sure that only property owners could vote; when. It was only until Andrew Jackson extended this right to all males. When Washington was elected in 1789, only 6% of the populating in the US could vote under the new Constitution.
- The Electoral College. The Founders did not trust the populace to elect the right man as President. Thus, they created the Electoral colleges whose delegates were picked by the legislatures–wealthy gentry–who controlled each respective state.
- U.S. Senators Elected by the legislatures: Because the House of Representative was the only body where the members were directly elected by “the people “,it gave the impression that people were in fact creating government,the Constitution took that power away from the people in the same fashion. Prior to passage of 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators were picked by state legislature without any consent from the citizens of the states. This, essentially, guaranteed that the popular House of Representative—the people–will not have power to change the Constitution or take over Government.
- Supreme Court: just as the Senate and the President—both which had to be picked by wealthy-property owners and gentry of state legislators—the Founding Fathers created the Supreme Court to prevented any sudden changes to the government by the “populace.” The Supreme Court is the most undemocratic body within our political system because they are all hand-picked by the President, not elected democratically by the people and the justices must be confirmed by the Senate.
The Founders put all this mechanism in place, as David Brooks argues in his latest Op-ed, to prevent the populace, or revolutionary Jeffersonian groups from taking over the government.
“in centuries past, the democratic pioneers built a series of checks to make sure their nations wouldn’t be ruined by their own frailties. They built checks and balances to frustrate and detain the popular will. They also dispersed power to encourage active citizenship, hoping that as people became more involved in local government, they would develop a sense of restraint and responsibility.”
Restraining the popular will of the people who often errs was one of principal intents of the Founding Fathers. To the Founding Fathers, popular will is a threat to the Republican form of governance. Therefore, any groups suggesting that the Republican Party needs to go with the intent of the Founding Father clearly have not read John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and the Federalist Papers–all books essential for the understanding of our conservative forms of government and governance; nor these groups have any interest in preserving the Republican Party Establishment.
Is the whole thing about Constitutionalism or Greed?
The Dallas news Editorial Board argues that it is time for the Tea Party to present real solutions other than just point out our woes. If they really want to be a political force in the Republican Party, they need to come up with real solutions and not just attacking the Republican Establishment.
For Tea Partiers…..To succeed, that meant targeting “the Republican establishment.” The tea party’s undeniable success in 2010, driving Republicans to House and legislative majorities, has reached a crossroads in 2012. For this cut-taxes, shrink-government movement to sustain itself, it must evolve beyond identifying problems and begin offering realistic solutions. Governance is the step tea party-inclined Republicans must perfect. They have made an electoral impact, but to grow and thrive, they must master passing legislation that stands the test of time. In an America made up of conservative, moderate and liberal views, establishment and insurgent, this is the tea party’s challenge.
Therefore, the real challenge for the Tea Party is to learn to compromise, if they want to stay a political force within the Republican Party. Successful governing for the GOP entails legislating with conservative policies–it is a prerequisite for success—and not merely sabotaging the entire system with hardened ideological gridlock. Creating more gridlock is a recipe for failure for the Republican Party, and it not what Founders intended, nor is it economically sound for the future of the U.S.
On the other hand, Former George Bush speech writer David Frum underscores that the goal of some revolutionary groups is to sabotage Republican Establishment, and thus, create even more paralysis in Congress to extend the status quo, prevent any real changes to extend subsidies and entitlements. According to Frum, the more ideological to the right the Republican turns, the less room for compromise, and thereby the more entitlements and subsidies the radicalized groups will get. But this smuggler for entitlements and subsidies is radicalizing the Republican base, and thereby, making the party hostile to young people, and maybe Latinos who tend to be in the younger age bracket.
“The Republican voting base includes not only the wealthy with the most to fear from tax increases, but also the elderly and the rural, the two constituencies that benefit the most from federal spending and thus have the most to lose from spending cuts…All those constituencies together fear that almost any conceivable change….the young — represents an extra, urgent threat to them…That sense of threat radicalizes voters and donors — and has built a huge reservoir of votes and money for politicians and activists who speak as radically as the donors and voters feel…Which means the solution to the problems so astutely diagnosed by Mann and Ornstein must ultimately be found outside the American political system — and will not be solved until America’s rich and America’s elderly become either less fearful or more generous.”
Mr. Frum underlines that the distribution federal monies is the real cause of the “radicalization” of the GOP, and he may be right. For example, we spend $2.3 trillion on entitlements and $800 billion on social programs. We spend 3% on education and 50% of our budget on entitlements. But as the Dallas news editorial Board points out, The Tea Party solution to curtail speeding is to eliminate the department of education and food stamps and pretend that is the real source of our deficit. But, essentially they propose no real solution to cut spending to subsidies and entitlement.
Many conservative writer have already pointed out the that our economic wooes are self-inflicted wound by a generation Americans who now collect up 3-times more than what they pay into the system. For instance, economist Robert Samuelson argues that:
“With favorable demographics, contradictions were bearable. Early Social Security beneficiaries received huge windfalls. A one-earner couple with average wages retiring at 65 in 1960 received lifetime benefits equal to nearly 14 times their payroll taxes, even if those taxes had been saved and invested (which they weren’t), calculate Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane of the Urban Institute. But now, demographics are unfriendly. In 1960, there were five workers per recipient; today, there are three, and by 2025 the ratio will approach two. Roosevelt’s fear has materialized. Paying all benefits requires higher taxes, cuts in other programs or large deficits. Indeed, the burden has increased, because it now includes Medicare, which is also viewed as an entitlement.”
So if Mr. Frum is correct, a compressive analysis of our Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and our Fiscal problems will indicate that Republican Party does not need a pseudo revolution that only seeks to protect entitlements–welfare society–while blaming the young. These are the type of groups that the Founders precisely want to protect us from by creating the Senate, the Electoral College, and the Supreme Court.The Bill of Right does grant them the right to assemble, but the mechanisms put place by the Founders protects the nation from “factions” that want sabotage the political systems with ideological revolutionary gridlock.
It is more correct, therefore, to say that these past fiscal miscalculation began 30 years ago, and this mess is man-made, by both parties. More importantly, pseudo revolutionary groups are making it more difficult for Republicans to woo the young and Latinos, since Tea party members see young Americans as a threat to their subsidies or entitlements, as David Frum argues. However, the GOP needs to leadership that will tackle big problems, and that is indeed the solution that the Tea Party cannot provide. The Republican Party need a conservative governing Party; a governing Party made of big tent, collations. Republicans need leaders who will compromise, and govern under the conservative inclusive mantra. The Founders worked very hard to make sure that revolutionary groups could NOT sabotage our political system and we must remember and follow their guide, the Constitution. Sadly, at the end, the real fight for the soul of the GOP, may end up being only about subsidies and entitlements, not the Constitution.