Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How Does the Next President Beat the Liberal Activism Culture?

The current "rape culture" flap was started by a "Dear Colleague" letter from an official at the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. The letter -- which was not a law, not a regulation -- told universities that they'd better put in a Star Chamber system of adjudicating accusations of sexual harassment. Or else they'd be violating Title IX, the federal law that is designed to "end discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive federal funding." Jessica Gavora, who's written a book on Title IX gives us the state of play. As she writes:
As long as Title IX’s victims were wrestlers or swimmers from low-revenue men’s sports that were jettisoned to achieve participation-parity with women’s sports, nobody much cared. But now that the law is being turned into a tool to suppress free speech on college campuses, even liberals are starting to cry foul.
At least they are crying foul when card-carrying liberals are involved.

Did you know that the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education has about 950 lawyers working for it? I read this recently, but can't find it on Google.

And of course "Title IX" is just one tiny part of the federal government's activities in service to liberaldom's identity politics agenda.

The context on this, for me, is supplied by the following points.

  • About a year or so ago a liberal friend told me at lunch that she had always wanted to do "activism." You can see what is going on here; liberal secularists turn to activism in lieu of religion. Doing activism, for them, is making a difference in the world. But what they do not realize is that government is force. It is one thing to work for a better world; it is another thing to empower government bureaucrats to enforce your will on the world. If their activism involved advocating for a new law or a new regulation or a new "Dear Colleague" letter they are saying: We Need More Force.
  • There is a whole universe of liberal groups out there doing activism. There really isn't anything close to a conservative or libertarian counterforce to the liberal activism culture. But the liberal activism culture is everywhere, advocating for more government, more spending, more regulations, more bullying, more force.
  • Since 2009 the Obama administration has put its pedal to the metal pushing the left-liberal agenda by any means possible. To take a single example, the Obamis essentially neutered the bipartisan welfare reform of 1996. Without a "conversation," without a change in law. They just did it. And the mainstream media did nothing.
What happens in 2017, assuming a Republican president and a Republican Congress? What would happen if the Republicans reduced the number of lawyers in the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights down to five? What would happen if they gutted the Environment Protection Agency's global warming initiatives that are essentially shutting down coal-fired electric power stations? Suppose the president issued as executive order banning all federal government employee unions? And so on. Would the next President of the United States have the cojones for that? Would his appointees have the cojones?

It seems to me that the first priority for the next Republican president should be to make it very difficult for liberals ever again to do what they did during the Obama era, pushing the liberal agenda without attempting to obtain consensus first, without bothering to pass a law in Congress. They could do it because the mainstream media, being partisan operatives with bylines, did nothing when the Obama administration blatantly violated the letter and  spirit of the law and bulldozed the de-facto consensus into the ditch on a whole host of public policy issues.

I've been reading that the strategy of the GOP Congress back in the Clinton presidency was to flood the zone in the details of the appropriation bills with a host of spending cuts and policy changes and set up certain issues as veto bait. The idea was that a president could veto a bill or two on some headline issue, but he can't really veto a bill because of 950 spending cuts and policy changes that he doesn't like.

Should that be the strategy of the next Republican President of the United States? To flood the zone will jillions of executive orders, cuts to liberal pet programs, forcing the liberal activism culture to focus on one or two issues?

You could say that, given that the liberals changed the rules and just pushed the pedal to the metal, that the old game is over, that Republicans can do what liberals just did, and to hell with their objections. But that is unrealistic, because the media will revert to its traditional role of "speaking truth to power" once a Republican administration takes power. They will make a scandal of any Republican initiative that offends the liberal agenda. And they will have liberal activist groups backing them up. And most important of all, we conservatives don't believe in extra-legal government. We want limited government with powers that are agreed upon by the citizens.

Obviously the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 must prepare the ground. He must lay out an agenda of reform and roll-back on the grounds of the Obama administration's violation of the old rules, and the oppressive use of regulatory power to dominate and marginalize ordinary American citizens. He must be able to say: look, the American people gave me a mandate to reform the egregious injustices and abuses of power committed by the Obama administration. All I am doing is correcting the egregious abuses of a lawless administration, just as I promised.

Suppose the GOP ticket wins in a 55%-45% landslide. Suppose the GOP increases its majority in the US Senate despite current projections; suppose the GOP increases its majority in the House despite the fact that they already gone about as far as they can go? Can a Republican administration really move the needle on reform, or will it get bogged down by a frenzy of liberal activist opposition?

Nobody knows what is possible. What troubles me is that I haven't heard a whisper from the conservative media about a post-Obama pushback. Check that. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has announced his reform agenda, including Medicare (!) reform. Now maybe it's too early for whispers and hints. But at some point in the road to November 2016 we need to see the battle space being prepared; we need to see spokesmen and mentioners saying that this or that candidate has big plans to reform the federal government and roll back the regulatory state and retrofit the administrative echo chamber for the liberal activist agenda with sound baffles.

The point is that you can't beat liberal politics without a conservative politics. And I don't see the conservative politics coming together to create a new Morning in America.

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