But Dave also presents an outline for the resurrection of the Republican Party in Delaware. It, too, is well-considered, and worth taking a look at. I do have to warn you at the outset, however, that as much as I admire what Dave's attempting, I still think building a pragmatic Libertarian party would be a better option. [Again, with a second however, Libertarians being who and what they are, Dave still has a lot more to work with in the current wreckage of the DE GOP than I'll probably ever see in the LPD.}
These are the issues that we in the Republican Party must carry forward if we are to succeed: limiting the size of our state government, creating an environment conducive to businesses and fixing our education system through competition and choice. It is those things that should bind us together.
While we recognize that which binds us, we also need to allow for varied views on other issues. We need to recognize that people who favor absolute property rights and people who want adequate infrastructure before development can both be considered Republicans. I am as proud to share a party label with my friend Vance Phillips as I am with my friend Eric Buckson. I consider both to be a big part of the GOP’s future.
And we need to accept that people on both sides of the life issue and both sides of the sexual preference issue exist right now in our party. We need to accept that, and accept the fact that we simply can’t move the bar on those issues right now in either direction.
This is as cogent and honest a blueprint for trying to build a coalition of fiscal conservatives, libertarian-minded Republicans, and social moderates as I have ever seen. And for a Republican to write the line, "we need to accept that people on both sides of the life issue and both sides of the sexual preference issue exist right now in our party," is groundbreaking in its own right.
Here's where this Libertarian takes a somewhat different road:
1) Reducing the size of government (and, with Dave, we know this includes changing prevailing wage laws) is an effort I applaud, and will join--so long as it is carefully thought out. Here's what I mean. The only gigantic segment of the Federal government to see massive budget cuts in the recent past was the US military between 1992-2001. Roughly one-third of the US military that took part in Desert Storm disappeared during the Clinton administration. I'm not going to argue about whether or not it should have, but about how the process was mismanaged.
What we did in the US military was draw down in a series of turf wars between the different services and the different defense branches. No one had an overall view of what the final product should look like in terms of America's strategic defense needs, because William Cohen was a miserable failure as SecDef. So every general officer and every bureaucrat dug in and fought for his little piece of the pie, made alliances where necessary, and screwed over anyone he had to in order to save as much of his own empire as possible. This left us with a horribly unbalanced military force in 2001 (and before you hit me: Dubya hasn't really done a damn thing to fix it).
This is not the way to do government reduction, and that's why Libertarians and other "small government" advocates scare the shit out of Liberals and Progressives. They think we want some sort of drastic social darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest to reduce the government.
That's not what I want. I want a thoughtful conversation about what government should and should not be doing, and how much we can afford to pay for each of those services or products in the context of reasonable taxation (which also needs to be hashed out and defined). Then and only then can we start to build a more economic government in rational stages.
2) A better environment for business: that's fine, Dave, but the problem is that pro-business or pro-growth in Delaware has almost always equated to pure unalloyed corporatism. I'm not any happier with our oversized dependence on a few key corporate employers than you are with the large numbers of government workers. If we want to truly make Delaware a place for entrepreneurs and small businesses, then we're going to have to address the idea of corporate liability (I think of it as the ugly twin sister of the more popular tort reform). Simply speaking, from a Libertarian point of view, property rights and contracts are fundamental; but that fundamentality (is that a word? must be, the spellchecker didn't catch it) carries with it a responsibility for harm and predictable externalities.
The lawyers who perverted the civil rights intention of the 14th Amendment into due process protections for the artificial personages of corporations should have been shot, buried, and then dug up and poisoned. We must address the issue of the personal liability of directors, officers, and shareholders in terms of the impact of their actions on their State and its environment. I am sick and tired of watching chemical corporations break the law, let the fines build up, declare bankruptcy to avoid the fines, reincorporate, and then purchase back their old facilities from themselves at the bankruptcy sale, only to have somehow laundered their responsibility for the fines or cleaning up the mess they made.
That's neither capitalism nor the free market.
3) Speaking of environment, and you at least uttered the word, Dave--where is conservation and environmental protection in your scheme of the Republican Party?
4) Schools. We differ on this one greatly, and I have to admit that you're actually more traditionally Libertarian than I am when it comes to choice and charter. My problems are twofold: (a) I think charter schools tend to produce a separate but unequal school system nonetheless funded by the State (I don't advocate their abolition, but I would be considerably more restrictive than you would be); and (b) I don't think choice and charter get us where we need to be in terms of our responsibility as American citizens to universal public education. Specifically, there is not a convincing argument to be made that children like my older daughter or Dana's son will ever become a driving force behind a charter school. These kids with special needs (and many of their special needs are daunting) are too different to be grouped together easily, and their needs are too profound to be met in a competition and choice system.
I'm willing to listen to reason on this, Dave, but to reason with me you'll have to show me one--just one!--example of a State or major metropolitan area that actually serves the needs of the special needs children under its care through a system like you're advocating. I do a lot of education research for a living, and I haven't found it yet; I truly hope you can.
5) Property rights versus infrastructure: I'm pleased you recognize the dynamic, and the need to bring both interests into the same tent. This is one of the strengths of your ideas.
6) Abortion and gay rights. I can't use the euphemisms, Dave, and that's part of the problem. Damn it, it's the abortion issue not the life issue, and when you mention sexual preference you give the game away on gay rights. I don't blame you: Democrats and Libertarians have found the same problem. People who agree on almost everything else often founder on these two issues. Better to declare a truce and do other stuff together....
Damn it, I can't accept a political party that equivocates on equal rights under the law. Either gays (including the full spectrum of GLTGB) are American citizens with full civil rights and protection from discrimination--or they're not.
And if they're not, then sorry, you can't be my party. (Which tends to rule me out of the Democratic mainstream as well.)
Abortion? I hate it. Wish it didn't exist. Cringe to think about it. Viscerally it rips at me.
But it comes down to the question of who gets to make decisions about what happens in a woman's body--herself or somebody else? (Neither my Church nor my male ego has an excuse--pardon the pun--to stick itself in there and start bossing that womb around.)
Otherwise, plain and simple, we make women our slaves.
I wish we could find some way to put these two issues aside, and in terms of national politics we often do--by saying such decisions ought to be a matter for the States. And that's the problem for your nascent Republican coalition: it's a State party. The State is where this stuff should get decided. So we can't try to pretend it isn't important while we work on other stuff.
When he gets tired of his hiatus I expect Dave will come back to FSP (and I expect it will be a lot sooner than he currently expects) to try to start building the Republican coalition.
I wish him luck.
I'd just rather turn him into a Libertarian.