Red vs. Blue: Bloods vs. Crips

National politicians have been served notice that the American people have finally awakened. Dissatisfaction with government is palpable. It showed in the election, in polls, and in voting patterns. Ron Fourier summarized recent polling:

  • More than 70 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.
  • Almost as many believe the nation faces a "leadership crisis."
  • Three quarters of voters disapprove of Congress, a near record low.
  • Nearly 6 out of every 10 voters are more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little political experience.
  • More than a quarter of voters are willing to back a candidate whose views "seem extreme."
  • Surveys consistently show Americans hold the Republican Party in lower esteem than the Democratic Party, even as the GOP stormed to victories.
Many demand less government (even though they don't want their own programs cut), while the federal government continues to behave as if there are no limits to its growth and power. Ditto the Federal Reserve, presumably not answerable to voters or anyone else, when Ben Bernanke announced that he would engage in another $600 billion in Quantitative Easing.

Those who support freedom and smaller government were encouraged by the outcome in the House of Representatives. They should not be! Ushering Republicans back into the House in an historic landslide was less a vote for Republicans than a vote against current government. A nearly identical "against" vote occurred in 2008, only with the political roles reversed. The Democrats misinterpreted that vote, just as the Republicans will misinterpret this one.

The public wants smaller and less intrusive government. That message has been sent the last several elections and reinforced this time with the advent and success of the Tea Party. Still, government continues to do what it does best -- grow. The people speak; the government ignores.

Anger grows as people sense they don't matter. Government is seen as above them, motivated by its self-interest. Voters matter at election time. Otherwise, they serve as a convenient feeding source for the profligate Washington parasites.

The schism between governed and government has reached a dangerous point. The political elite, as described by Angelo Codevilla, seem to be one party -- the privileged, ruling party. Long before Mr. Codevilla, Lord Acton understood:

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.

Whether there is a D or an R in front of the party in power, little changes in the overall trend. Replacing one with the other is akin to removing the Bloods and replacing them with the Crips. The faces change and the methods of plunder may vary, but little else does, either.

Optimists believe that this time is different. They are akin to Charlie Brown being lured by Lucy to have another kick at the football. Republicans have some control again, but they have no understanding, willingness, or capability to provide what people want.

Traditional Republicans erroneously believe that if they return to recent principles (a word that should never be used when discussing politicians), they can make things right again between them and the electorate. What they don't understand is that people are not looking for mere tinkering here and there. A slowdown in the speed of government growth is unacceptable.

People understand what the government doesn't -- a slowdown in government growth does not avoid the economic apocalypse that lies directly ahead. Cutting back on earmarks and pork and slowing the growth in government does not get government out of their lives. Downsizing via the elimination of major programs is what is wanted. People know the social welfare state is a Ponzi scheme that is unsustainable. The elites fight these notions.

Washington is dysfunctional and unable to deliver regardless of which party is in charge. Arrogance prevents some from getting the message. Others recognize that it would be political suicide to attempt to dismantle the welfare state. Nothing good can come from Washington.

People have lost patience. They send messages via elections, but they are ignored. The means provided for political change in our country -- the ballot box -- no longer works. When frustrations cannot be remedied by traditional means, other means will be sought.

Some great men in the course of history were unequivocal regarding the rights of people:

  • Peace is freedom in tranquility, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted not only by war, but even by death. Cicero
  • The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates. Tacitus
  • We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. Abraham Lincoln
  • Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes lawless or, which is the same thing, corrupt. Mohandas Gandhi
  • ... man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. Ronald Reagan
Our Founding Fathers knew that a government that ignored the will of the people could not be tolerated. That understanding prompted the Revolution against England. Their belief in freedom did not end after they had formed their own government. Thomas Jefferson was especially outspoken against government in favor of people's rights: "Every generation needs a new revolution."

Our forefathers were of hardier stock than we are. They knew and were willing to act upon the belief that people had rights that superseded government. They would not have tolerated a fraction of the abuse we have endured.  

Fortunately, there is some good news that suggests we may not have to revolt to put our government back into its proper constitutional box. Our recent state elections provide the key to peacefully resolve the growing conflict between the citizens and the political elite.

If "landslide" was a proper description for the outcome in the House of Representatives, a much stronger word is necessary to describe what happened in state legislatures. Rossyln Smith in "State House Tsunami" states, "It appears that at least 15 State House or Senate chambers had a change in control to the GOP last night, giving the Party control of more chambers than the Democrats now hold. ...The GOP may now have more power in the state legislatures than at any time since the 1920s. "

Ms. Smith puts the results in perspective with the following points:

  • Going into the 2010 elections, Democrats held 60 partisan legislative chambers and Republicans held 36, with a couple of ties.
  • In total legislative seats, it is possible that after all the results are posted, Republicans will have won a nationwide majority.
  • It looks like the GOP has picked up an astounding 20 chambers, including both houses in Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Wisconsin and additional chambers in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
States like North Carolina and Alabama went Republican for the first time since Reconstruction.

These results provide hope for two reasons:

  1. Redistricting
  2. States Rights
Redistricting, also known as "gerrymandering," is a technique used to create safe seats for House members. This "perk" has been effectively used for decades by the Democrats to protect and "create" seats. Much of this power has now shifted to Republicans. Used properly (aka "gaming the system"), this advantage makes it harder for Democrats in the future to retain or regain seats. Whether you consider this good or bad, it is a reality.

More importantly, Republican control of states makes the use of states' rights more likely. The Tenth Amendment provides the legal means for states to address an overreaching federal government: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Tenth Amendment was the rallying cry for the Tea Party. Look for it to be used to attempt to rein in the federal government.

The political elite will be unable (and unwilling) to shrink government in any meaningful fashion. That leaves only two other ways. One is the right to revolt that is inherent under any form of government (even totalitarian states eventually conform to the will of the people).

The other is via the Tenth Amendment and the court system.

It is certain that the people will eventually get their way. They always do. We just don't know how or when. Hopefully the states will aggressively pursue their rights under the Tenth Amendment. That is the preferred method because it is peaceful. Time will eventually reveal which course is chosen.

Monty Pelerin blogs at at www.economicnoise.com.
National politicians have been served notice that the American people have finally awakened. Dissatisfaction with government is palpable. It showed in the election, in polls, and in voting patterns. Ron Fourier summarized recent polling:

  • More than 70 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.
  • Almost as many believe the nation faces a "leadership crisis."
  • Three quarters of voters disapprove of Congress, a near record low.
  • Nearly 6 out of every 10 voters are more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little political experience.
  • More than a quarter of voters are willing to back a candidate whose views "seem extreme."
  • Surveys consistently show Americans hold the Republican Party in lower esteem than the Democratic Party, even as the GOP stormed to victories.
Many demand less government (even though they don't want their own programs cut), while the federal government continues to behave as if there are no limits to its growth and power. Ditto the Federal Reserve, presumably not answerable to voters or anyone else, when Ben Bernanke announced that he would engage in another $600 billion in Quantitative Easing.

Those who support freedom and smaller government were encouraged by the outcome in the House of Representatives. They should not be! Ushering Republicans back into the House in an historic landslide was less a vote for Republicans than a vote against current government. A nearly identical "against" vote occurred in 2008, only with the political roles reversed. The Democrats misinterpreted that vote, just as the Republicans will misinterpret this one.

The public wants smaller and less intrusive government. That message has been sent the last several elections and reinforced this time with the advent and success of the Tea Party. Still, government continues to do what it does best -- grow. The people speak; the government ignores.

Anger grows as people sense they don't matter. Government is seen as above them, motivated by its self-interest. Voters matter at election time. Otherwise, they serve as a convenient feeding source for the profligate Washington parasites.

The schism between governed and government has reached a dangerous point. The political elite, as described by Angelo Codevilla, seem to be one party -- the privileged, ruling party. Long before Mr. Codevilla, Lord Acton understood:

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.

Whether there is a D or an R in front of the party in power, little changes in the overall trend. Replacing one with the other is akin to removing the Bloods and replacing them with the Crips. The faces change and the methods of plunder may vary, but little else does, either.

Optimists believe that this time is different. They are akin to Charlie Brown being lured by Lucy to have another kick at the football. Republicans have some control again, but they have no understanding, willingness, or capability to provide what people want.

Traditional Republicans erroneously believe that if they return to recent principles (a word that should never be used when discussing politicians), they can make things right again between them and the electorate. What they don't understand is that people are not looking for mere tinkering here and there. A slowdown in the speed of government growth is unacceptable.

People understand what the government doesn't -- a slowdown in government growth does not avoid the economic apocalypse that lies directly ahead. Cutting back on earmarks and pork and slowing the growth in government does not get government out of their lives. Downsizing via the elimination of major programs is what is wanted. People know the social welfare state is a Ponzi scheme that is unsustainable. The elites fight these notions.

Washington is dysfunctional and unable to deliver regardless of which party is in charge. Arrogance prevents some from getting the message. Others recognize that it would be political suicide to attempt to dismantle the welfare state. Nothing good can come from Washington.

People have lost patience. They send messages via elections, but they are ignored. The means provided for political change in our country -- the ballot box -- no longer works. When frustrations cannot be remedied by traditional means, other means will be sought.

Some great men in the course of history were unequivocal regarding the rights of people:

  • Peace is freedom in tranquility, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted not only by war, but even by death. Cicero
  • The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates. Tacitus
  • We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. Abraham Lincoln
  • Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes lawless or, which is the same thing, corrupt. Mohandas Gandhi
  • ... man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. Ronald Reagan
Our Founding Fathers knew that a government that ignored the will of the people could not be tolerated. That understanding prompted the Revolution against England. Their belief in freedom did not end after they had formed their own government. Thomas Jefferson was especially outspoken against government in favor of people's rights: "Every generation needs a new revolution."

Our forefathers were of hardier stock than we are. They knew and were willing to act upon the belief that people had rights that superseded government. They would not have tolerated a fraction of the abuse we have endured.  

Fortunately, there is some good news that suggests we may not have to revolt to put our government back into its proper constitutional box. Our recent state elections provide the key to peacefully resolve the growing conflict between the citizens and the political elite.

If "landslide" was a proper description for the outcome in the House of Representatives, a much stronger word is necessary to describe what happened in state legislatures. Rossyln Smith in "State House Tsunami" states, "It appears that at least 15 State House or Senate chambers had a change in control to the GOP last night, giving the Party control of more chambers than the Democrats now hold. ...The GOP may now have more power in the state legislatures than at any time since the 1920s. "

Ms. Smith puts the results in perspective with the following points:

  • Going into the 2010 elections, Democrats held 60 partisan legislative chambers and Republicans held 36, with a couple of ties.
  • In total legislative seats, it is possible that after all the results are posted, Republicans will have won a nationwide majority.
  • It looks like the GOP has picked up an astounding 20 chambers, including both houses in Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Wisconsin and additional chambers in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
States like North Carolina and Alabama went Republican for the first time since Reconstruction.

These results provide hope for two reasons:

  1. Redistricting
  2. States Rights
Redistricting, also known as "gerrymandering," is a technique used to create safe seats for House members. This "perk" has been effectively used for decades by the Democrats to protect and "create" seats. Much of this power has now shifted to Republicans. Used properly (aka "gaming the system"), this advantage makes it harder for Democrats in the future to retain or regain seats. Whether you consider this good or bad, it is a reality.

More importantly, Republican control of states makes the use of states' rights more likely. The Tenth Amendment provides the legal means for states to address an overreaching federal government: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Tenth Amendment was the rallying cry for the Tea Party. Look for it to be used to attempt to rein in the federal government.

The political elite will be unable (and unwilling) to shrink government in any meaningful fashion. That leaves only two other ways. One is the right to revolt that is inherent under any form of government (even totalitarian states eventually conform to the will of the people).

The other is via the Tenth Amendment and the court system.

It is certain that the people will eventually get their way. They always do. We just don't know how or when. Hopefully the states will aggressively pursue their rights under the Tenth Amendment. That is the preferred method because it is peaceful. Time will eventually reveal which course is chosen.

Monty Pelerin blogs at at www.economicnoise.com.