This is a very interesting speech given by U.S. Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter (11-MI). The Congressman draws heavily upon Russell Kirk and Wilhelm Ropke.
The critique is harsh, yet something that needs to be discussed among Republicans who care about the future of the party.
For Immediate Release
Let It Bleed: Restoring the Republican Party
U.S. Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter, Chair
House Republican Policy Committee
As my Republican party completes its first year in the minority since 1994, we find ourselves held in historically low regard by the sovereign American people.
To end this trend, Republicans must accurately assess our party’s past and present failings; and its future prospects of again providing Americans a meaningful choice between the major parties. This remains, after all, a party’s duty to the citizenry.
For my GOP to fulfill it, first we must bury our ideological dead.
Safely on this side of the cleansing mists of memory, it is chic to eulogize the late Republican majority. From the chattering class few insights emerge, for in the aftermath, only poetry is an apt epitaph:
The world is too much with us,
Late and soon;
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away –
A sordid boon!
Such was the Republican bathos: a transformational majority sinned and slipped into a transactional “Cashocracy” – promises, policies, principles, all bartered, even honor. The majority now is of the ages, may it rest in peace…
And be redeemed.
Once, George Santayana cautioned: “Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.” If our current Republican minority guilefully refutes or gutlessly refuses to admit, accept, and atone for the bitter fruits of its lapsed majority, it will continue to decline in the eyes of the American electorate. Thus, for the sake of our nation in this time of transformation, we must fully and frankly examine and understand the cardinal causes of the Republican majority’s recent demise; and, sadder but wiser, commence our Republican minority’s restoration as a transformation political movement serving the sovereign citizens of our free republic.
Through the Past Darkly Big Hits and Fazed Cookies
To begin, we must retrace our steps down a darkened alley of broken hopes to glean the essence of our party’s headier times, big hits and fazed cookies.
Though many of its legislative leaders may moot the point, two Presidents caused the 1994 Republican Revolution: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
The members of 1995’s new Republican Majority were Ronald Regan’s political children. From President Reagan, Republican Congressional revolutionaries inherited a philosophy of “politics as the art of the possible.” Cogently expressed by conservative intellectuals ranging from Edmund Burke to Russell Kirk, this philosophy’s central tenets held:
1. Men and women are transcendent children of God endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights.
2. Government was instituted to defend citizens’ inalienable rights and facilitate citizens’ pursuit of the good and of true happiness.
3. Over the generations, Divine Providence has established and revealed through tradition, prescriptive rights and custom within communities how order, justice, and freedom – each essential, co-equal and mutually reinforcing – are best arranged and nurtured for humanity to pursue the good and true happiness.
4. Human happiness is endangered by every political ideology, for each is premised upon abstract ideas; each claims a superior insight into human nature not revealed through historical experience; each proffers a secular utopia unobtainable by an imperfect humanity; and, each demands an omnipotent, centralized government to forcefully impose its vision upon an “unenlightened” and unwilling population.
This is the political philosophy and resulting public policies a once impoverished youth from
Enter President Clinton.
Exuberant at having defeated an incumbent President George H. W. Bush,
Congressional Republicans bided their time, planned their revolution, and seized their moment. Led by their spell-binding and abrasive guru from
Though much mythologized, if it is to prove instructive for the present Republican minority, this Contract can and must be placed in its proper perspective. A musical analogy is most elucidating.
When a reporter once praised the Beatles for producing Rock’s first “concept album,” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, John Lennon curtly corrected him: “It was a concept album because we said it was.” Lennon’s point was this: yes, the Beatles had originally set out to produce a concept album; but early in their sessions the band dropped any conceits to creating a concept album and recorded whatever songs were on hand. Recognizing their failure, the Beatles tacked on a final song, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise), to engender the illusion they had, after all, created a “concept album.” Importantly, when the band later tried to produce a true “concept album” and accompanying film, Magical Mystery Tour, the lackluster result was one of the Beatles’ few failed artistic ventures.
Similarly, Congressional Republicans’ “Contract with
Therefore, if the current Republican minority buys into the myth and makes the Contract the basis of a derivative “concept” agenda, the GOP will be condemned to another forty-year Magical Mystery Tour through the political wilderness.
Out of Our Heads
This is not to say the members of 1995’s new Republican majority lacked a political philosophy or immutable principles. Quite the contrary: these members were steeped in the Reagan tradition. But after an initial rush of laudable accomplishments, the members found themselves trapped by the Contract’s inherent pragmatism and particularity. Absent a philosophical anchor in the Contract, members drifted into the grind of governance, which distorted Reagan’s philosophical principles for public policy into non-binding precedents for political popularity. Exacerbating this process, the new majority’s leaders, exuberant at having defeated an incumbent Democratic Congressional majority, mistook a mandate against their predecessors as a mandate for their own finitely posited conservatism. In its first two years in control of the House, this led the majority’s leaders to erroneously conclude it could govern as a parliament, rather than as a Congress equivalent in power to the executive branch; and they over-reached on key issues, most notably in the shut down of the
Some persist in too facilely dismissing this Republican debacle as being due to
As this ideological fever progressed through 1996, too late did the new majority’s members intuit the political cost to candidates considered “ideologues.” The Republicans’ majority did survive the partisan carnage of
Hubristically deemed by its leading denizens as a “Permanent Majority,” the GOP Cashocracy was a Beggars’ Banquet at taxpayers’ expense. The Cashocracy’s sole goal was its own perpetuation; and its Cashocrats and High Priests of Money-theism myopically chased this aim through pragmatic corporatism and political machinations.
Obviously, the Cashocracy’s cardinal vice was its conviction to survive for its own sake. Curiously, this is not the height of arrogance; it is the height of insecurity. Aware it stood for nothing but election, the Cashocracy knew anything could topple it. This fear cancerously compelled the poll-driven Cashocrats to grope for ephemeral popularity by abandoning immutable principles. Materialist to their core and devoid of empathy, the Cashocrats routinely ignored the centrality to governmental policies of transcendent human beings.
A Bigger Bang
This Cashocracy’s first cardinal facilitated its second: pragmatic corporatism. Ensconced in insular power, the GOP Leadership lived the lives of the rich and famous, despite their middling personal means, due to their new-found friends in the corporate and lobbying community. Cut off from
In fairness, even without the Cashocrats’ incessant inducements, blandishments and bullying, the majority of GOP members truly did feel they were promoting the interests of their constituents. This belief was insidiously sustained by the Cashocrats grafting their pragmatic corporatism onto the philosophy of economic determinism. It was not an unforeseeable development. Akin to their conservative brethren who after the fall of the
The handsome rewards for such “courageous” legislation fueled the Cashocracy’s third vice, avarice. The process was both seductive and simple, especially in a materialistic town forsaking the qualitative measurement of virtue for the quantitative measurement of money. While this temptation is to be expected in a city where politicians “prove” their moral superiority by spending other people’s money, it was equally to be expected Republicans would collectively resist it.
Earmarks, which began as a cost-saving reform to prevent federal bureaucrats from controlling and wasting taxpayers’ money in contravention of express Congressional intent, spiraled out of control once the Cashocrats and their K-Street cronies realized the process could be manipulated to direct any appropriation, however undeserving, to any client, however questionable. In turn, political contributions materialized from the recipients of these earmarks for the members on both sides of the aisle who dropped them into legislation, often times without the knowledge of or the appropriate review by their peers. The passage of policy bills, too, increasingly mirrored the earmark process, as special interest provisions were slipped into the dimmer recesses of bills in the dead of night. The outcome of this fiscal chicanery was an escalation of the K-Street contributions the Cashocracy required to attain its aim of perpetuating itself in power; and of the illegal perks required to sate the more venal tastes of some morally challenged members who are now paying their debts to society.
Black and Blue
Cumulatively, in addition to rendering it morally bankrupt, these three vices left the Cashocracy intellectually impotent. Tellingly, within this less than subtle and manifestly sinister system of earmarks and contributions, the Cashocrats’ greased the skids for their legislative “favors” by relegating the majority’s younger members to voting rather than legislating; ignoring these members’ qualitative virtues, ideals and talents; measuring these members by the quantitative standard of how much money they raised; and, thereby, condemning these members to the status of highly paid telemarketers. Having squandered this infusion of youthful energy and insight, the Cashocrats hailed the election of Republican President George W. Bush and handed him the nation’s legislative agenda.
At first, the Cashocrats’ subordination of their separate, equal branch of government to the executive branch bore dividends. But by 2006, when the failures of the Iraq War’s reconstruction policy and Hurricane Katrina’s emergency relief torpedoed Bush’s popularity, the latent danger to the Cashocrats of hitching their SUVs to the fortunes of a President was evident. Precluded from tying its vicarious popularity to Bush’s coat tails, the Cashocracy teetered beneath the gale force invective of the Democrats’ campaign mantra the Congressional Republican majority was “a culture of corruption” slothfully content to “rubber stamp” the failed policies of an unpopular President. Panic stricken, the politically tone-deaf Cashocrats urged GOP members to tout
By election day the public had concluded the Republican majority cared more about corporations than Americans; and, when the tsunami hit, the Cashocracy crumbled down upon many now former GOP members, who became the last, blameless victims of its stolid cupidity.
In hindsight, the Cashocracy would best have heeded President Theodore Roosevelt’s warning:
“The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
Straggling back to
Got Live if You Want It
“Restoration Republicans” are best considered Reagan’s grandchildren. Like their Reagan-Democratic parents, Restoration Republicans were attracted to our party by the intellectual, cultural, and moral components and proven practical benefits of philosophical conservatism. Transcending talking points and political cant, these Restoration Republicans’ are devoted to restoring human soul’s centrality to public policy decisions; and focusing these policies on preserving and perpetuating the permanent things of our evanescent earthly existence which surpass all politics in importance.
The enduring ideals of Restoration Republicans are succinctly enumerated by Russell Kirk in his book, The Politics of Prudence:
1. The conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.
2. The conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.
3. Conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription – that is, of things established by immemorial usage.
4. Conservatives are guided by the principle of prudence.
5. Conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.
6. Conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.
7. Conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.
8. Conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.
9. The Conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passion.
10. The thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.
Given how the Cashocracy repeatedly violated these principles during its descent into oblivion, and how the Democrats’ 2006 consequent rallying cry was “change,” this tenth ideal merits deeper contemplation. For to understand it fully is to fully understand why Restoration Republicans, who are convinced we live amidst a crucible of liberty, proclaim our minority must emulate and implement the philosophical conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the fiery integrity of Theodore Roosevelt in the cause of empowering Americans and strengthening their eternal institutions of faith, family, community and country. Again, Kirk:
“Therefore the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He [or she] thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he [or she] is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old.
“Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceases to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism. Just how much change a society requires, and what sort of change, depend upon the circumstances of an age and a nation.”
Love You Live
Kirk’s words compelled Restoration Republicans to empathetically assess our nation’s age and circumstances; and ponder the direction and scope of the changes our American community requires.
In making these determinations, Restoration Republicans draw parallels between and inspiration from
Our Greatest Generation faced and surmounted a quartet of generational challenges born of industrialization:
1. Economic, social, and political upheavals;
2. A second world war against abject evil;
3. The rise of the Soviet “super-state” as a strategic threat and rival model of governance; and
4. The civil rights movement’s moral struggle to equally ensure the God given and constitutionally recognized rights of all Americans.
Today, our generation of Americans must confront and transcend a quartet of generational challenges born of globalization:
1. Economic, social and political upheavals;
2. A third world war against abject evil;
3. The rise of the communist Chinese “super-state” as a strategic threat and rival model of governance; and
4. Moral relativism’s erosion of our nation’s foundational, self-evident truths.
The critical difference between the challenges conquered by the Greatest Generation and the challenges crises confronting our generation of Americans is this: they faced their crises consecutively; we face our crises simultaneously.
In response to these generational challenges to our free republic, Restoration Republicans have drawn upon the roots of their philosophical conservatism to affirm the truth America does not exist to emulate others, America exists to inspire the world; and to advance the policy paradigm of American Excellence, which rests upon a foundation of liberty, and the four cornerstones of sovereignty, security, prosperity and verities.
Individually and collectively, American Excellence’s foundation and four cornerstones are reinforced by these policy principles:
1. Our liberty is granted not by the pen of a government bureaucrat, but is authored by the hand of almighty God.
2. Our sovereignty rests not in our soil, but in our souls.
3. Our security is guaranteed not by the thin hopes of appeasement, but by the moral and physical courage of our troops defending us in hours of maximum danger;
4. Our prosperity is produced not by the tax hikes and spending sprees of politicians, but by the innovation and perspiration of free people engaged in free enterprise.
5. Our cherished truths and communal virtues are preserved and observed not by a coerced political correctness, but by our reverent citizenry’s voluntary celebration of the culture of life.
Restoration Republicans conclude, therefore, we must be Champions of American Freedom in challenging new millennium to keep our
It will not be easy, given the root public policy question of our times. In the Age of Industrialization, President Theodore Roosevelt empathized with Americans’ feelings of powerlessness in the face of the economic, social and political forces radically altering or terminating their traditional, typically agrarian, lives. Writing years later in his book A Humane Economy, the economist Wilhelm Ropke examined the impacts upon human beings by these forces, which he collectively termed “mass society”:
“(T)he disintegration of the social structure (generates) a profound upheaval in the outward conditions of each individual’s life, thought, and work. Independence is smothered; men are uprooted and taken out of the close-woven social texture in which they were secure; true communities are broken up in favor of more universal but impersonal collectivities in which the individual is no longer a person in this own right; the inward, spontaneous social fabric is loosened in favor of mechanical, soulless organization, with its outward compulsion; all individuality is reduced to one plane of uniform normality; the area of individual action, decision, and responsibility shrinks in favor of collective planning and decision; the whole of life becomes uniform and standard mass life, ever more subject to party politics, ‘nationalization,’ and ‘socialization.’”
In that epoch, the root public policy question was how to protect Americans’ traditional rights to order, justice, and freedom from being usurped by corporate or governmental centralization. Aware of this quandary, T.R. responded by taming an emerging capitalist oligarchy which considered itself above the laws and, thereby, soothing the economic, social, and political anxieties of urban industrial workers which threatened the stability of our free republic. Over time, from T.R.’s seminal efforts arose the industrial-welfare state which, in a tenuous detente, divided solutions to Americans’ economic and social upheavals between and within both centralized corporations and government.
In this Age of Globalization, however, while Americans are vexed by their seeming inability to influence the potent economic, social and political forces radically reshaping their lives, American corporations are busy decentralizing into “virtual corporations” reliant upon the outsourcing of jobs to other nations to obtain lower labor costs and evade cumbersome domestic laws and regulations. Such “rootless capital” being sent around the world in a keystroke to more “competitive markets” has cost Americans their livelihoods; reduced their wages and employer provided benefits; diminished their unions’ memberships; eclipsed their optimism regarding our economy’s continued vitality; and, in cases of extreme economic distress and angst, destroyed their marriages and dreams for their children.
The failure to realize the seismic ramifications to normal Americans of this tectonic economic shift was a primary cause of the Cashocracy’s collapse. As rising corporate profits and Wall Street bull markets became increasingly divorced from working Americans’ prosperity, the Cashocrats clung ever more tightly to their corporate benefactors without grasping Americans had concluded what is “good for GM” is no longer necessarily good for them.
The advent of virtual corporations and transient international capital has ended the old industrial-welfare state model of governance, wherein solutions to Americans’ economic and social anxieties were the shared burdens of centralized corporations and government. The stark choice is now between increasing the centralized power of the federal government or decentralization power into the hands of individuals, families and communities.
In their urgency to replace their lost or slashed corporate benefits, Americans will be sorely tempted to further centralize federal government to do it. But expanding the authority and compulsory powers of the federal government will be injurious to the American people. Big government doesn’t stop chaos; big government is chaos. By usurping the rightful powers of individuals beneath its bureaucracy’s steel wheels, highly centralized government alienates individuals and atomizes communities. Once more, Ropke speaks to the heart of the matter:
“The temptation of centrism has been great at all times, as regards both theory and political action. It is the temptation of mechanical perfection and of uniformity at the expense of freedom. Perhaps Montesquieu was right when he said that it is the small minds, above all, which succumb to this temptation. Once the mania of uniformity and centralization spreads and once the centrists begin to lay down the law of the land, then we are in the presence of one of the most serious danger signals warning us of the impending loss of freedom, humanity, and the health of society.”
Only liberty unleashes Americans to establish the true roots of a holistic American order – the voluntary and virtuous individual, familial, and communal associations which invigorate and instruct a free people conquering challenges. In contrast, centralized and, thus, inherently unaccountable government suffocates liberty, order and justice by smothering and severing citizens’ voluntary bonds within mediating, non-governmental institutions; and, thereby, stifles our free people’s individual and collective solutions to challenges. In consequence, the temptation for more centralized government must be fought to prevent turning sovereign Americans from the masters of their destiny into the serfs of governmental dependency.
Fully versed in this verity, Restoration Republicans have made their decision – power to the people. Thus, in this Age of Globalization, Restoration Republicans vow to:
1. Empower the sovereign American people to protect and promote their God-given and constitutionally recognized and protected rights.
2. Promote the decentralization of federal governmental powers to the American people or to their most appropriate and closest unit of government.
3. Defend Americans’ enduring moral order of faith, family, community and country from all enemies.
4. Foster a dynamic market economy of entrepreneurial opportunity for all Americans.
5. Honor and nurture a “humanity of scale” in Americans’ relations and endeavors.
Further, while these Restoration Republicans will be releasing a more detailed program in the future, the above will form the basis of their concrete policy proposals.
Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out
My constituents are honest, hard-working, and intelligent people who are bearing the brunt of the generational challenges facing our nation. They have lost manufacturing and every manner of jobs due to globalization and, especially, the predatory trade practices of communist
True, they differ on specific solutions to their pressing issues. But they do agree
With my constituents, I utterly agree. While it is not my purpose here to discuss the majority party, let me be clear as to my own: House Republicans have no business practicing business as usual. My constituents, our country, and this Congress deserve better.
And we will provide it!
Our Republican minority has members who know
Our Republican minority has members who know the only thing worth measuring in money is greed.
Our Republican minority has members with the heart to put individuals ahead of abstractions; people ahead of politics; souls ahead of systems.
Our Republican minority has members who have seen sorrow seep down a widow’s cheek and joy shine from a child’s eyes.
Yes, our Republican minority has members who know our deeds on behalf of our sovereign constituents must accord with Wordsworth’s poetic prayer:
“And then a wish: my best and favorite aspiration mounts with yearning toward some higher song of philosophic truth which cherishes our daily lives.”
It is these Republicans whose service in this Congress will redeem our party by honoring the sacred trust of the majestic American people who, in their virtuous genius, will transcend these transformational times and strengthen our exceptional nation’s revolutionary experiment in human freedom.
With these Republicans, I hereby throw in my lot and pledge my best efforts on behalf of my constituents and our country.
May God continue to grace, guard, guide and bless our community of destiny, the
. United States of America