Monday, February 18, 2013

Predicting the Future of Politics

I was reminded today about an old Yogi Berraism: "Predictions are always uncertain, especially about the future."

When you look back ten years, is there anyone who could have predicted then where we would be as a nation today? So why would anyone in their right mind believe ANYONE living today could possibly predict the future of politics in this country?

That said, I will venture a guess that things as they are today will not remain for much longer politically. The Republicans are still smarting from the election of 2012. There were many surprises. The old methods of analysis of the demographics have faded away, it would seem. Conversely, there were numerous allegations of voter fraud and stealing the election in key battleground states. Whatever the facts may someday reveal, it was a shock to the conservative base to which I belong.

We face some daunting challenges. The country is broke, at least by the traditional definitions of what that means. When we spend more than we take in that used to mean "broke." We have a federal government that is out of control in its spending habits. We can’t afford what they are doing. We now have a government that is doling out benefits across a broad spectrum to half the citizens. Our private industry, once the envy of the world in productivity is now stalled and mostly stagnant compared to China's output. The Republican Party, once the champion of free enterprise, limited government and individual freedom and responsibility lost its way in the darkness of progressivism a long time ago.

Democrats were historically the party of big government. There was hope in the 90s when Bill Clinton declared the end of big government, constrained as he was by the Newt Gingrich revolution in Congress that produced a balanced budget. Now they too have lost their way. Under Barack Obama it appears they would make everyone dependent upon big government. They believe they have discovered the golden ticket to winning elections in perpetuity among voters who like the dole they receive in whatever form it takes.

Sadly, about all we got Republicans to admit in this last election cycle is that they could manage big government better than Democrats. While I at one time believed there was a clear and obvious contrast between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, when it comes to the argument about Big Government versus small government, the argument became a blended mishmash that was nearly indistinguishable, especially in that last debate.

So I've mostly gone silent on the political front since that first week in November. Stunned and still recovering would be the best way to describe my reaction. This country has been without a true political freedom of expression and limited government party for many years.

That reality must change. The upstart "tea party" has received its death warrant from more than a few pundits, most recently from former Senator Bob Bennett, who was soundly thrashed in the Utah nominating convention in 2010, and whose seat is now held by Mike Lee (R-UT). But I have the sense predictions of the spirit it represents may be premature. I hear a lot of rebellion talk brewing under the surface in the Republican Party, at least here in Utah. You can describe "the base" any way you wish. I choose to think the true conservatives, moderates and independents who make up Utah's "base" were aroused in 2008, spoke up in 2010, and still shout, "Stop it! Reduce this out-of-control federal government! Wake up, Washington, and put a lid on the debt, the spending and the deficits that are enslaving our future generations. Reduce the taxes, abandon the regulatory agencies that are throttling down the economic engine of America. Stop it all!"

This ground swell of emotion and political action state by state made a decision to return to the Republican Party in 2010, hoping they would get it right. The grassroots elements of the tea party now seem to be opposed once again to the "establishment wing" of the Republican Party. We saw it play out in the primary elections held in the states during the last cycle. If all the establishment can give us is an argument they can be better managers of a bloated government, then my prediction is an easy one to make - those grassroots people will abandon the Republican Party, both here in Utah and nationally.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
As an example, I suspect Mike Lee chose the Republican Party only because it was the most expedient vehicle in which to ride at the time. I might be wrong. I didn't discuss it with him personally during his run when he had my unabashed support, but everything he has done since being elected leads me to believe he cannot long endure the status quo I see promoted by the establishment in the party.

So here's my bold prediction, and I've held this view for some time now: The new political reality we will see playing out in the future is no longer going to be Republican versus Democrat. That's been a carefully managed political contrivance of convenience and expediency for way too long. No, instead, it’s going to be lovers of freedom and limited government versus Big Government dependency. We may be running out of time to make a conscious choice about that. Events may compel us into that path whether we like it or not.

Back in the day, Abraham Lincoln left the Whig Party and formed the Republican Party because he and others would not compromise on slavery.

In the future people like me will leave the Republican Party because we will not and cannot compromise on freedom and limited government. Finding candidates who believe in principle over party will be the next challenge.

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