Coolidge

Small Ideas, Small Government

There is plenty of talk of where the Republican Party should go. Some say Republicans should veer to the left and others believe it should be more orthodox. Change is necessary; the Republicans need to change, but talking heads are missing the point.

Republicans shouldn’t change to promote grandiose agendas. Republicans should promote small and simple ideas.  Republicans should not model themselves after energetic executives. This disqualifies Republican Presidents like Reagan, Nixon, George W. Bush, and pretty much anyone who believed that the president had a big role in people’s lives.

Look to no other than President Coolidge.  Coolidge is one of those few politicians who reduced taxes, cut spending, and fostered rapid economic growth by minding his own business and keeping Congress in check.  He delivered 50 vetoes, modeling why he is a prime example of a conservative commander-in-chief.

Coolidge is not someone who embroiled himself over politics or ideology. He didn’t believe in utopian ideas of utmost liberty like libertarians, spreading democratic ideals around the world like neoconservatives, or expanding the role of government in people’s lives through social justice like liberals. Coolidge was simplistic. He was a constitutionalist and knew that the government couldn’t solve all of our problems.  That’s what America needs: a humble executive and ultimately a humble government that understands its own limitations. That undermines both parties today.

It also undermines both President Obama’s State of the Union and Senator Marco Rubio’s response. They both missed that today’s Americans are entitled Americans and they need to be told that government needs to be reduced and that government was never intended the way it is today. Both Obama and Rubio missed this huge opportunity.

Senator Rubio mentioned the role of government. Rubio said that government “cannot play its essential role when it ignores those limits.” The problem is that there were no specifics in reducing the size of government. President Reagan spoke against big government and yet the federal budget grew by 69 percent. Republicans like Rubio love to speak against government but then say that they do not want to change Medicare if it “hurts” seniors. Medicare is hurting the nation at large and should not promote the common good of a few, but the common good of all. Yes, Medicare should provide for those who need it but the American people need to understand that government spending is unsustainable and if it does not change then the government will default.

Sadly enough, most Democrats and Republicans do not live up to a humble fiscal, and foreign policy. Senator Rand Paul mentioned a change in spending. He mentioned that entitlement reform needs be on the table to reduce our deficit and our national debt with specifics. He called for a “Penny Plan” which would call for a cut in a cent of spending for every federal dollar. He also called for a drawback in our foreign policy which is a traditional Republican doctrine. Paul seems on a many regards more like a Coolidge disciple rather than a Reagan fanatic. That’s how it should be.

Republicans will rightfully change if they for once and for all espouse their principles of small government and deliver. The times demand a leader who will not spell out ambitious agendas for restraining gun violence, pursue energy independence like those on the left like to spell out, or talk about “providing some security against the risks of modern life,” fostering world peace in the world and democratic rule as many on the right do.

NewAlexUzarowiczIconWe need a leader who accepts the fact that government is not God and cannot be anywhere near as powerful as God. Like it or not, government cannot solve all of our problems. That to me sounds like a smarter government.

Obama is absolutely right when he called for a “smarter government,” but that does not mean bloated budgets, taxing people more and more, expanding the powers of our military through drone strikes-just to name a few. A smarter government is not one that designs the obliteration of its own people and of its own country. Both parties are the main architects in this regard and lack the leadership to address our entitled culture.

Republicans should take a deep look at themselves and embrace Coolidge. They should embrace a humble party and small ideas. That’s the path to victory.

Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowicz

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4 Responses

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  1. Jon
    Apr 07, 2013 - 03:43 AM

    I really appreciate that there is a thoughtful opening for a defense of government that can scale back on both its desire and its action to consolidate power by creating more dependency in the way of policy (national health insurance, licensure, etc). I believe that the government should not control many of the things that could be done without its help even at the state level. The problem is that not everyone is ambitious in learning as the founders were; there were no colleges around then and there was still civil debate amongst even those who would today be considered of lower classes (i.e. farmers). The men of old trained themselves and were well-versed in the Bible, philosophy, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; they apprenticed themselves for the trades they wished to undertake.

    Sadly, that ambition does not exist today. With billions in government subsidies being disbursed on college causing the student loan bubble, there is little hope of actual learning being achieved so that people like the writer will ably express themselves in a public forum. I believe, like John Taylor Gatto, that there are many points to be taken about freedom and against utopianism. We must though, question the very existence of government if it is to be small; why do such organizations at the Departments of Energy, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Defense, exist? They have been set up at the whims of interested men and imposed upon the public at the pleasure of both the Congress and the President.

    I feel that once many of these organizations have achieved their aim, they should become defunct. I feel that corporations should exist with imminent obsolescence as well; they should be no more protected by the government than average citizens if there is to be truly fair competition. The Supreme Court and Presidential cabinet should not be made up of unelected presidential nominees who are then confirmed by the Senate; the issue with that becomes that the American people, en masse, do not trust themselves to legislate on their own behalf before putting someone in office to represent them. These days, many of us (myself included) fail to see that we have the wherewithal to choose our legislators wisely and the ability to challenge our government as long as we take a critical eye to our education or miseducation.

    Freedom is commonly the touchstone of conservatives, how do we get there? What superfluities do we cut? How do conservatives, unlike liberals, keep from sacrificing principles that embody TRUE freedom for the good of the country? There should be no such laws as those of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 that abridge freedom of speech and thoughtful (not watered down) dissent of government. To me, true freedom means that nothing must be codified in order to become a right, because a right is supposed to be inalienable and incapable of being codified; the mistake liberals make is asking what will replace a right once a law is repealed. That means instead of allowing us as citizens to socially approve or reject something is left up to the government once again. It makes no sense which is why I don’t label myself politically anymore and the likely reason that many people I know do the same.

    Coolidge had it right, Mr. Uzarowicz, in realizing that government is helpless without people to give it power. It is our belief in the power of government that makes us frequently vulnerable and it is an injustice to us all. Thanks for this thoughtful take on government.

    Full disclosure: I am not a conservative.

    Reply
  2. B.Will
    Feb 21, 2013 - 07:14 PM

    @Rushlau,

    I’ve read a bunch of your comments on multiple posts and I for one am getting bloody sick of your inane prattle on Israel. You make outlandish claims about Israel with absolutely no evidence to back them up and further seem to be willfully ignorant of the behavior of Israel’s neighbors to their religious and social minorities. Further, you bring up Israel in EVERY BLOODY POST, even where it has no place. I suggest you stick to the topics at hand in the posts and leave your bias at home. Just a suggestion.

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  3. Tim
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:54 PM

    I agree. I think part of the problem is the GOP doesn’t offer themselves as a party that will implement small and SMART government. They appear to voters as if they intend on destroying and denigrating it- not what you want to hear from the people who will be in charge of government. No one wants a vegan to be their butcher.

    The GOP does much better when they offer solutions and work to make government work better for the people. They can still propose cuts to wasteful spending (the pentagon, bureaucratic waste and redundancies) but they need to recognize the American people do not believe in anarchy. They don’t want people in charge of government who hate all government. So it’s fine to criticize the truly harmful aspects of government (military and prison industrial complexes come to mind), but offer voters a reason why you will make the good parts of government work better and more efficiently for the people.

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  4. Christopher Rushlau
    Feb 15, 2013 - 05:21 PM

    If you’d mentioned how Israel figures in all the trends you mentioned, you’d bring your argument down to earth quite a bit.
    On the other hand, Coolidge apparently presided over the regulatory catastrophe that gave us the Great Depression.
    Let me try this as common sense: there is no such thing as an unregulated market. An unregulated market is where you have something to sell and I steal it from you, and nobody chases me down. The question is, what rules and whose rules constitute the proper regulatory climate?
    That brings us back to Israel. A state which famously rejects separation of church and state and equal treatment under the laws, and which avoids the question of whose land it is sitting on, yet which dominates US politics, should make us worry about law in general in the US, even long before Osama bin Laden was shot dead in custody to rapturous applause from the Suits, and later you and I became legitimate targets in the “Global War On Terror”.
    So I suggest that law deals in simple concrete issues, and we’re going to need to get ourselves talking in that way so we can start to see what legal fixes are required. The looseness in the law started way before the regime went crazy on Sept. 11, 2001, and now that looseness has stretched to where we barely have any law at all.
    I’m going to bet that millionaires were laughing all the way to the bank in the ’20’s at this cornpone lawyer from Vermont who trusted Wall Street to police itself.

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