There is a battle raging within the GOP for the heart and soul of the party. It is not about personality or for control of the machine. It’s about ideology, principles, and the direction of the country. It has been ongoing for years and will not abate until one side is totally defeated.
The two opposing sides – the establishment, elite, Rockefeller wing and the resurgent Tea Party – claim to be conservatives and represent true conservative ideology. But both cannot be right. The only way to see who best represents the truth is to determine what conservatism really is. Continue reading
The recent moves by the establishment Republican Party are enough to give any true conservative a major case of heartburn, if not feelings of outright disgust, contempt, and abandonment. The GOP seems poised to continue on its well-worn path of political cowardice, backing down at every turn each time Democrats raise a controversial issue.
Now it seems that the new issue is gay marriage and the Republican Party seems over-eager to have that volatile question off the table for 2014 and 2016, and every election after that. Establishment hacks have indicated that the next Republican nominee for President might support gay marriage, much to the chagrin of traditional rank and file conservatives. Continue reading
On December 19, 1893, William L. Wilson, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, rolled out a new tariff reform bill, which passed the House on February 1, 1894 by a significant margin, 204 to 140. Tariff duties were modestly cut by 15 percent. However, to make up for any projected loss of revenue, the final House version of the bill included a provision for an income tax. The young Democratic congressman from Nebraska, William Jennings Bryan, introduced the tax amendment and vigorously defended it. “There is no more just tax upon the statute books than the income tax,” he told the House.
Though not a new concept, a tax on incomes had been first enacted in 1862 to help finance the Civil War, and, despite the Constitution’s prohibition against direct taxes, federal courts had left it alone as a war revenue measure. The original act created the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the forerunner to the IRS, to collect the tax. It covered all incomes over $600 a year at two graduated rates. Income above $600 and up to $10,000 was taxed at three percent, while everything over $10,000 at five percent. In 1864 the top rate was increased to ten percent. When applicable, the federal government had actually withheld the tax from people’s income, such as government salaries, dividends and interest from bank stocks and bonds, as well as from railroads and other corporations. By the end of the war, some 15 percent of households were paying the tax. In 1872, the law expired and Republicans were content to leave it dead, as the tariff was continually pouring money into the federal treasury, making additional taxes unnecessary. Continue reading
The United States faces an abundance of problems, a weak economy, an abundance of public expenditures, out of control entitlements, and an over-expansive foreign policy, to name a few. These issues are getting worse, not better, with no end in sight. In recent decades, politicians of nearly every conceivable stripe have offered solutions, all to no avail. The only real solution to America’s woes is a return to Jeffersonian principles.
Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and D.R. Francis standing on a porch circa 1903. Courtesy of the POTUS Flickr archive.
Since the days of Grover Cleveland, who ended the harsh Panic of 1893 in less than a full term in office, the federal government has used Keynesian economic theory, or intervention, to fight every economic downturn. The results have been less than spectacular. What began as a severe recession in 1929 became the “Great Depression,” the worst economic calamity in American history. Many people will be surprised to learn that the Great Depression came after the government stepped in with its bag of tricks. It did not end until the latter half of the 1940s.
After the Panic of 2008, the government bailed out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion. In 2009, the Obama administration kicked in another $800 billion in a stimulus designed to jump-start the sagging economy. A total of $1.5 trillion in stimulus money has been apportioned. The economy is still in a state of mild depression with a net job loss during the Obama presidency. Continue reading
During Grover Cleveland’s eight years in the presidential chair, he confronted national problems nearly identical to those America faces today. There are numerous issues with striking similarities, but the three major ones stand out above all others are – the economy, paternalism, and foreign affairs.
Anders Zorn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Politicians, pundits, and scholars have wrestled over a central question throughout American political and constitutional history: What role should the government have in the lives of ordinary citizens?
For Jeffersonian Conservatives, such as Grover Cleveland, the government has no business involving itself in areas outside its limited, constitutional role, and should never take a position as a “custodian;” the people should be free to pursue their own dreams without government interference, to rise as high and as far as their God-given talent, abilities, and determination will carry them. Success or failure depends on the individual.
Some liberals on the other side of the political spectrum believe the government should play a vital role in the lives of the people, from cradle to grave. They believe the lowly masses cannot take care of themselves. For Democrats, government must step in and take up the role of caretaker. As Nancy Pelosi said in 2011: “I view my work in politics as an extension of my role as a mom.”[i] This progressive viewpoint is known as government paternalism, and has been defined as “a policy or practice of treating or governing people in a fatherly manner, especially by providing for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities.”[ii] Continue reading
Whenever friends and family find out the subject of my new book, one of the first questions I am usually asked is: “Why Grover Cleveland?” My answer: “Why not?” For Grover Cleveland, who served as both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, was one of the greatest conservative statesmen in American history, a steadfast advocate of Jeffersonian political principles, the bedrock of conservatism. The Last Jeffersonian: Grover Cleveland and the Path to Restoring the Republic is an examination of the true nature of conservative thought, exemplified by the public life of Cleveland, and a pathway to a restoration of the republic crafted by our Founding Fathers.
During my first semester of graduate school, at the University of Southern Mississippi, I became seriously interested in Grover Cleveland and his political life after reading a less than stellar biography. As I delved deeper into his policies, I soon realized that the career of this forgotten statesman offers answers to modern America’s most pressing political issues, such as the public character and behavior of our politicians, direct governmental assistance to the people, actions during an economic depression, foreign intervention, and upholding political principles. It is only with the study of history, and the solutions Cleveland provided for us, that we can solve our problems and restore the constitutional republic. Continue reading