If my own personal history is any guide, we’re going to be seeing an increasing number of formerly loyal democratic voters who are open to a new paradigm during the next year or two. If we do, the goal is to be welcoming and accepting, and to offer them a new political home in the Tenther movement. Instead of harping on past disagreements, we should help them to see how decentralization can beat the Washington gerbil wheel.
During the 2000 election, I was the kind of voter that the Republican Party could count on. I didn’t agree with everything the party did, but I was sure that their heads were in the right place and that when they went off course, it was because of a need to compromise or that they had other good reasons for what they did. Candidate Bush told me that he was going to privatize Social Security and that he was going to end “nation building”. I believed him. I was not well informed on the topic of global warming, but as a regular Scientific American reader, global warming was a concern to me and it was, in my mind, one of the few valid reasons to accept “big government”.
During the 2004 election, 9/11 had come out of the blue and we were involved in Afghanistan and Iraq. I gave President Bush a pass on his nation-building promise because of 9/11, I reflexively supported Republican policies and I was content to be patient as candidate Bush told me, once again, that he was going to privatize social security.
In the next few years, my political viewpoint went through a drastic (may I say, radical?) transformation. My natural tendency is to be skeptical of things. So much so that my wife tells me that I should have been named, “Thomas.” Somehow, though, I had never applied my skepticism towards government – at least not aggressively. That changed around 2005 or 2006. Starting then, I am aware of two distinct paradigm shifts that occurred in my way of understanding government.
Paradigm Shift 1 (Global warming):
First, I read Michael Crichton’s, “State of Fear.“ I was completely amazed by some of the claims about Antarctic ice. Frankly, I didn’t believe them, but I wanted to prove them wrong. I checked the references and ran some searches of my own and found out that these claims were absolutely true. Only the ice on the Western Antarctic Peninsula was melting. The rest of Antarctic ice was either growing or stable. Reports in the press of melting Antarctic ice in Antarctica were often deceptively worded to make me confuse the western peninsula with the continent. Next, I read the Wegman report and learned that much of the science which had been used to support the activism was unreliable. From that report, I also learned that much of the work which claims to be “independent” is not independent at all. It’s actually kicked out by an “old boy’s club” of ideological activists who masquerade as objective scientists. Finally, in 2006 or 2007, I watched, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.“ As with State of Fear, I fact checked some of the claims. Unlike State of Fear, the claims that I checked from An Inconvenient Truth turned out to be false. I watched it again with my wife, and challenged her to pick some facts from the movie at random and to fact check them, without any input from me. She also found that the facts she chose to check were incorrect.
At that point, I became convinced that the idea of catastrophic global warming is a fairy tale — a mythology. Yes, the global average global temperature is probably warming and it may be tied to CO2, but the mythology kicks in when they tell us we can change the future by sacrificing our SUVs or changing our light bulbs. It’s no different from the Shamans of old who promised that God would spare us from hurricanes if we would just sacrifice our sheep, cows, goats, and children.
I now see that global warming is not an excuse for big government. In fact, it’s an argument against it. A small group of corrupt ideologues are attempting to use the mythology to capture the US Government, the European Union, and the United Nations, and to use those organizations to rule over a world of seven billion people. I can’t imagine a more frightening prospect. Another byproduct of the dishonest global-warming activists is that I now distrust all claims by environmentalists. There are probably legitimately well-intentioned environmentalists whose credibility is being harmed by the repeated and false cries of “Wolf” from these global warming cultists.
Paradigm Shift 2 (Decentralization):
We have come to view government as “top down” federal over state over local. That’s wrong. It should be state over local over federal. The federal government should be there to act like a lubricant between the other governments, not to direct them, but to help them interoperate with each other. Fundamentally, our state governments should interact in a peer to peer fashion with the federal government providing the protocols.
But… As Napolitano said, now that it’s taken it, the federal government will never give that authority back. The states need to fulfill their constitutional role as a check against federal overreach. This means that the people need to demand that from the states. I am convinced that a vote for democrat or republican at the federal level is inconsequential.
OK, so I still didn’t have the bottom-up thing quite right, but big government had lost me and to the extent that they focus on Washington solutions, the Republican Party had lost me. Now, I was looking for a new political home, which I eventually found in the Tenther movement.
Which brings me back to my point. We are now at roughly the same point in the election cycle as we we were in 2005. If the course I followed is anything like a normal course of disillusionment, then we are going to be seeing a period of time when formerly loyal democratic voters become unusually receptive to our ideas. “I told you so” is one of the best ways to make people defensive. It is not helpful to our cause.
You don’t get to know the future ’til it happens, but it is looking like Obamacare is turning into a serious disaster. It is also clear, to anyone with an open mind, that the promises have been dishonest. In addition to the normal election cycle, if things with Obamacare continue to go the way they’re going, this should create even more disaffected democratic voters.
It’s time, now, to find common ground that can attract open-minded democrats - not to rub their noses in the failures. Before these people retrench behind the (W) democrats or defect to the (W) republicans in 2016, we must help them to see why it’s time to get off of the Washington gerbil wheel.
Steve Palmer is the State Chapter Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center.
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