How Can We Require Fiscal Restraint?

Over at QandO Jon Henke has laid out a key challenge for us. We need to elect fiscal conservatives.

The Republican Party has long pledged to be the party of fiscal restraint, but even for a time of war it has been spending far more than the supposed “tax and spend” Democrats ever did. While there is no guarantee that the Democrats would be any better at fiscal restraint, the Republicans have failed in their promise to rein it in.

For months I have been telling the RNC telemarketers that I won't send the RNC any money because they spend my tax dollars recklessly. I asked how a President that mouths the words “fiscal restraint” has never vetoed a spending bill. I pointed out the Porkbusters campaign as something more likely to get my time, effort, and money than the Grand Old Party.

So what do we do? The power we have over either party is swinging the vote. However, as a power base, fiscal conservatives and libertarians are only 5-10%, and that's only if they vote as a bloc. To top it off, most of the time all of our choices are odious so we'd rather just sit out the election!

The third party alternative is dead in the water. Without severe widespread disaffection with both parties a third party has no chance. Both parties are busily “rushing to the middle” to prevent that from being a problem.

What's needed is a critical splinter issue that breaks up the normal party lines, like immigration policy. It is doubtful that we can leverage the immigration issue as a spending issue except to say that a giant fence the length of several states is darned expensive. To top it off, the schisms around immigration fracture the fiscal conservatives and libertarians just as much as the major parties.

Jon's solution is carefully engineered gridlock:

It seems to me that the optimal libertarian and fiscal conservative strategy is to seek gridlock. And if that means a temporary alliance with the Democrats, well, what of it? The Democrats may be worse than the Republicans in many ways, but a divided government can thwart the ambitions of both.

With our small voting bloc, I don't foresee engineered gridlock to be doable. We have no locus of grand strategy, no reliable coordination, and no grassroots. Compare the fiscal conservative “movement” with gun owners or environmentalists and you'll see what I mean.

I certainly will not lend my vote to the Democrats if it means they might win instead of giving us gridlock. Perhaps if we can say “Republicans for Congress, Senate for Democrats” and make it stick we might get there. (Not a lot of work for me. I have Democrats for both my Senators and my Congressman and I voted for none of them.)

So I have no solution other than to force everyone to watch the following video:

Maybe indoctrination could work…

Josh Poulson

Posted Wednesday, Jul 19 2006 07:55 AM

Adjacent entries


« Movable Type 3.31
I Can't Wait »





To track back to this entry, ping this URL:

There are no trackbacks on this entry.


There are 3 comments on this entry.

I like the irony --
Josh says:
So I have no solution other than to force everyone to watch the following video:

At 21:00 Dr Friedman says, "the argument for collectivism is simple -- if something is wrong, pass a law"

Great video -- 28 minutes to watch plus download time. about 45 in all. but worth it.


Posted Friday, Jul 21 2006 10:32 PM

"So I have no solution other than to force everyone to watch the following video" - josh

I have an alternative solution:

To secure the acknowledged benefit of divided government by voting Democratic in the 2006 election, is not the same as "finding a home" in the Democratic party. It is simply tactical support to obtain an immediate and desireable result: Fiscal restraint and better federal governance through the mechanism of divided government...
What is needed, is an organizing principle. Ideally, a principle that is so obvious, so logical, and so clear-cut, that no leadership is needed, no parties are needed, no candidates are needed, and no infrastructure is needed. Ideally it is this easy: You think about the principle, and you know how to vote.
That organizing principle exists. It is Divided Government. It is absolutely clear-cut and easy to understand. Divided Government is documented by Niskanen to work in a practical real-world manner to restrain the growth of the state. As a voting strategy it can be implemented immediately.
Whatever the percentage of the electorate that libertarians and true fiscal conservatives represent, whether it is 9% or 20%, if they vote as a block for Divided Government, they immediately become the brokers of an evenly split partisan electorate. They arguably become the single most most potent voting block in the country, specifically because they are willing to vote either Democratic or Republican as a block. Specifically because they are not fused to one party or the other.
It means, libertarians must ignore what the politicians say and look at what they actually do (Niskanen again). It means ignoring spurious invitations to fuse with a big tent party that no longer stands for anything meaningful. It means voting straight Democratic in 2006, and (if successful in establishing Divided Government) voting Republican for President in 2008. It means the difference between libertarians being a completely impotent political force, and libertarians having the biggest swinging political "hammer" in town.

From Hand wringing Libertarians


Posted Monday, Jul 24 2006 05:43 PM

My difficulty is believing that a faction that can't get people elected after nearly 40 years of trying can be so organized as to promise gridlock in a multi-state effort. It beggars the imagination.

Josh Poulson

Posted Monday, Jul 24 2006 05:58 PM

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)



Affiliate advertising

Basecamp project management and collaboration

Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate