Two Roads Diverged...
I continue to believe we need to have a conversation as Republicans on what it means to be a Republican, and a larger national debate on why spending and debt, institutions – and civility and humility should still matter in politics. This is something none of us can do alone, but collectively in talking to friends and neighbors alike we can begin to spark this needed conversation.
You can’t fix a problem you don’t perceive, and today’s political climate seems to be defined not by a robust debate of ideas, but by devolving levels of charge and counter charge, reaction and counter reaction. You can’t solve problems this way, and America has some problems that are desperately in need of solving. We need a robust debate on debt and spending, given the degree to which it’s not being talked about by either party. Concurrently we need to focus on the importance of Republicans re-embracing conservatism. In this instance this means not throwing out 200 years of tradition with institutions that have been vital in balancing power key to a conservatives belief in liberty. It also means being conservative in avoiding an embrace of new social norms that shatter what so many of us have tried to teach our children on measure in interacting with others. In short, the “new normal” we have seen in political waters in the way we treat others is not sustainable. As Republicans shouldn’t we talk about it?
No matter what happens in the next election cycle, if each one of us does our part in pointing to political true north, in time good things will come from it.
Again, as I see it this comes down to three things:
It’s been said they never care how much you know until they know how much you care. I believe conservative solutions are common sense and represent sound solutions to many of the problems confronting America, but in presenting them, style matters. Former President Trump’s approach was confrontational and exhausting. It invited reaction and the current cycle of “he said she said” undermines our chance for real debate on issues that affect all of us.
People against him, or his ideas, were “losers.” Aside from sounding like the 5th grade bully, this approach made it very difficult to expand an audience for conservative solutions. Many of his policy ideas were actually reasonable, but to continue on a path that does not include more civility and humility means people will tune out good ideas and the possibility of real debate.
This approach leads to many battles, but few wins on change vital to sustaining the American dream.
On the page below, you will find a few charts and additional details on why our debt, deficits, and spending should matter to you and those you love. But let me give you a little overview in reinforcing why this issue that's gotten so little attention should matter so much to our lives.
History says that debt and spending should matter because its pages show how consistently civilizations have extinguished themselves financially. There is no country in the history of man that has been able to outrun financial reality. It can certainly be done for a season, but over time math matters for the budgets of individuals, businesses, and even civilizations.
Social equity says that the debt and spending issues is the issue of our day, given the intergenerational wealth transfer that's taking place as our national debt mounts. Our country was founded on the notion of no taxation without representation, but given that deficits are nothing more than deferred taxes, young people today should be outraged at deficits accumulating at more than a trillion dollars a year. In this same vein, I find it amazing that we will spend more on interest next year than on all federal programs for children. These numbers will prove disastrous for young Americans.
Our nation's defense says debt and spending issues should matter because we will spend more on interest in 3 years than we do on the entirety of our national defense budget. Paul Kennedy wrote a great book years ago entitled ‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers’ and showed how inextricably military supremacy was tied to economic supremacy.
The needs addressed by other government programs also highlight how this issue should matter. Interest costs compete with every other investment that our federal government might make, in improving lives and making our nation more competitive. In just 5 years, interest will be a greater expense than the entirety of what Congress debates every year on spending.
Your retirement account or savings account say it should matter...
Because the buildup of debt inflates prices – and that which goes up can come down. There are a host of indicators that show that we are now living in an asset bubble based on the buildup of debt. When that bubble pops, so will the worth of our savings accounts, our retirement accounts.
Your job says that the debt and spending issue should matter because 2/3rds of our economy is driven by consumer spending. If the asset bubble pops, not only do our savings accounts go down, but so too do our job prospects, given the way that jobs have been tied to wealth and asset creation in our country. I could go down a list of other reasons that this issue should be the issue of our times, but for now, let me take this as a starting point and ask that you dig into the details below.