No Home For True Believers


Days after the November, 2019 municipal elections in Indianapolis, a proxy for the Republican Party of Hamilton County [Indiana] filed complaints with the party organization against a few Precinct Committeemen for their participation as members of a non-partisan, Political Action Committee that seeks to identify and promote fiscally conservative candidates for office. A few of the elected officials and, undoubtedly, party leadership was displeased when the organization did not exclusively endorse Republicans. Imagine the frustration when trying to find some to vote for? It's likely, in fact, that two additional Republicans in one municipality were considered for endorsement before voting for a county income tax increase. Let me restate this for clarity. A county organization of the Republican Party is attempting to remove Republicans from their official capacity as [mostly elected] low-level party officials because they are ACTUALLY fiscal conservatives and may have an independent opinion or be part of an organization that does - appropriate for a non-partisan group. The claim is that this activity voids them as "Republicans in Good Standing". The same party organization seems to have few issues with Precinct Committeemen who have actually donated money to Democrats nor one of the party's attorneys representing an independent candidate running against a Republican at an election board hearing. The party has no problem with clearly more liberal officials, who would be Democrats anywhere else, or even people who cheerfully supported Democrat candidates before deciding to run under the Republican banner - as long as they voted in one or a few most recent Republican Primaries.

"Medice, cura te ipsum" [Physician, heal thyself] - Luke 4:23

If the already fragmented county party, one certainly not known for their social conservatism, wants to also go to war against its own fiscal conservative wing then I would ask how this is not supposed to further alienate people from an organization that ideally should grow, present a clear and inspired choice to voters and hold off the rising tide of shifting demographics and attitudes that lean far less conservative. Is it helping to take this action? Because fiscal conservatives are looking at the organization's candidates for those that support the supposed ideals of the party and finds the supply lacking. Perhaps the PAC would be well served to provide mirrors to many of our elected official so they can see where the problem really lies. And I'm not picking solely on local or county elected officials, every candidate for Federal Office - regardless of party it seems - campaigns against the out-of-control federal debt. Yet, despite their near unison agreement, deficits persist and the debt grows. Hard financial choices are tough to make, but they certainly seem to get a lot easier when it isn't somebody's own money they are spending.

"It's a big club, and you ain't in it." - George Carlin

What's worse is that instead of letting the offended candidates or their fellow local representatives take the hit of filing whatever complaints or challenges they desired, what appears to be a proxy with no skin in the game was tasked with putting their name on the filing. This was so unbelievably transparent as to insult the intelligence of anyone paying attention. Add in that, in our area, more fiscally prudent, pro taxpayer elected officials are almost always the first to have candidates recruited by the establishment to challenge them in primaries also perhaps reveals the real ideological leanings of those we elect. I may be naive, but I still believe that when the typical Republican voter casts their ballot they are doing so because they expect people affiliated with that brand to be for smaller, lower cost government that doesn't want to increase taxes. Indeed, at the state level in Indiana we have over the last decade or two seen the elimination of things like the inventory tax and the inheritance tax. Caps enacted on how oppressive property taxes are allowed to be without an override from voters. We've seen a reduction in state income taxes and, when the need was felt to increase revenues, a preference for use fees or consumption taxes. I don't think the typical voter actually has reviewed voting records of legislators, executive wish list agendas and the court decisions of the judges on the ballot. They're voting for some vague notion of "small government, lower taxes, less regulation, more freedom" or maybe voting for "bigger government, soak the rich, ban the straws and [because we know nothing about economics or history] 'democratic socialism'". So, when somebody runs for office as a Republican and is not ideologically opposed, and dogmatically so, to expansive government, higher taxes or massive deficit spending it is a reasonable argument that their name showing up under the Republican column on the ballot is a lie - a bald faced one. It is difficult to be part of 'the club' and stand up to people when they violate this trust. Attending all manner of events you get to know a lot of the elected officials personally. And there are many with whom I disagree vehemently that I believe are really great people. People I like personally and enjoy seeing or talking to. But, what they fail to see is that just being part of the government, or by nature of having won our almost yearly popularity contests, does not magically forgive them of the sin of stealing more from people than absolutely necessary or further restricting their freedoms or rights.

"Collecting more taxes than are absolutely necessary is legalized robbery." - President Calvin Coolidge

Many people seem to take exception to this idea of taxation being theft. To be sure, it technically isn't, it is coercion backed by a threat of violence and/or theft. This statement of fact has no bearing on the necessity of it. But, anyone who fails to see that, however necessary, threatening to take away somebody's property or to cage them (or worse) if they fail to pay tribute to the, and at the discretion of, The King is an act of coercion is just being obtuse. There is no magical fairly dust of government that alters the threat of violence arrangement here. It is indeed this very notion that our country was partially founded on the idea that BECAUSE this is true, the coerced contribution to the public treasury should be limited to paying only for those things that are absolutely necessary. Even Alexander Hamilton, not known for being the most pro-Republic of the founders, wrote in Federalist #21 that consumption taxes are a better form of taxation than most because an excess in the rate undermines the purpose and allows citizens to close their wallets in protest.

"They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder..." - Frédéric Bastiat

Certainly, anyone who believes in free markets and open competition must be repelled by the idea of government or quasi-government organizations going into debt to buy up private property and auction it off (or give it away) to whatever preferred interest of that day or to subsidize, no matter how much we love them, multi-millionaire owned sports businesses. No matter what multiple of current property taxes might be created, it seems an inappropriate use of government power. In one of Hamilton County's municipalities we now have, depending on how measured, $1.4 billion in debt with a large portion of that going to deals that smack of corporatism. That is not to say that government officials can't or shouldn't help connect people, help encourage development or provide other forms of support.

"If more government is the answer, than it was a really stupid question" - Ronald Reagan

I am not blind to the fact that there really are people who are displeased with, in my area of Indiana, rapid development, the growth of the city and sometimes even hate for one of the best infrastructure improvements ever - roundabouts. There are others who don't oppose this 'progress' so much as they oppose the methods by which it is centrally planned, subsidized or sometimes has the appearance of being 'crony capitalism'. Why does a government entity need to manage, subsidize (either directly or via taxpayer guarantees on loans) or pick the winner in private developers competing to buy a piece of land, an older strip mall or building and putting it to better economic use subject to market forces? Yes, I understand the incredible leverage that gives central planners over the end result, but is that how we want things to work in a supposed free market economy? The opportunity for favoritism, cronyism or pressure to fill up the campaign coffers of politicians is tremendous and even if one administration is innocent of any such activity, there is no guarantee the next one will be.

Dissent is often met with mocking from the establishment, pro-government crowd. "Keyboard Commando", "Naysayer" or "Hater" are oft-used phrases. I guess, by that measure, Thomas Jefferson, or John Hancock perhaps, was a "Quill Pen Commando". The modern Internet has made sharing information and ideas with people near instantaneous and without needing to be a professional writer nor subject to the discretion of newspaper publishers that might be dependent on the goodwill of local businesses and politicians for advertising revenues.

The Republican Party has always seemed to be more of a coalition to me than the Democrat Party. The social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, foreign policy hawks, the more moderate but generally pro-business faction and, of course, the libertarian wing of the party which is the most hated. At a time when generations who don't remember Ronald Reagan or the Soviet Union are increasingly attracted to the fatal allure of big government socialism and the fanciful unrealistic promises of far left politicians we need to be working together not creating more fragmentation, apathy and infighting. This is what leadership should be doing - uniting, not dividing. If the party abandons or continues to ignore the more fiscally conservative voices - or worse - aggressively attacks them, there may or may not be a price to pay. But, it sure is bad form, promotes distrust and just adds fuel to those that try and claim there is nary a dimes worth of difference between the two big political parties.

"I once said to my father, when I was a boy, 'Dad, we need a third political party.' He said to me, 'I'll settle for a second.'" - Ralph Nader

Many of the concerned voices are wanting a more measured, prudent or free market approach so as not to over-extend municipalities financially or concentrate too much power - so that we can maintain some of the great things our elected officials have done without the creeping specter of higher taxes, financial risk in the event of an economic downturn, or the ever present suspicion of cronyism. It's important that there be a clear choice between increasing government power, debt and taxes or keeping the influence of government constrained, free from unreasonable debt and holding the line - if not lowering - taxes. The most recent municipal elections saw Democrats win city council seats for the first time many decades. If given the choice between big-spending, authoritarian liberals and other big-spending, authoritarian liberals, conservatives are left without a real choice and, guess what? Big-spending, authoritarian liberals will win.

© Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County