So the midterms have occurred and the Dems control the House and we have blessed, blessed gridlock.
Even if Trump wants to go forward with even more acts of obstruction of justice (add that to the already impeachable tax evasion and violation of the emoluments clause…I’m not saying he will be impeached, I’m merely saying there is no legal or ethical reason why this man should not be in solitary for life*) the Democrats have more than enough to subpoena power to now show all of his numerous criminal acts for what they are. In reality, it won’t matter. Partisan Republicans exist in a world where their God-King can do no wrong, and partisan Democrats don’t see that this is a very different party from the one that nominated a man of character like Mitt Romney and told shit like Santorum to hit the road.
But just because the idiot is going to be prevented from doing anything doesn’t mean we’ll actually have good government.
I see three options going forward.
The first is that nothing changes, both parties continuing playing to their mentally unstable bases and nothing gets done. This, unfortunately, is the most likely.
However, there exist two possibilities. The least likely, which I’m going to deal with first, is that the Democrats learn from last night, realize that the Sanders/Warren wing of progressivism did not do well last night and the that moderation did win (this isn’t just me making this observation, this is the New York Times which I don’t see towing some kind of conservative line about how the progressive ideology is a losing one). The Democrats have an opportunity to reinvent themselves in this moment and become a party of moderation. But in the likely case they don’t, the disaffected parts of both parties (i.e the sane people) rally around a middle third party which brings us back to a semblance of sanity.
So let’s deal with the unlikely event that Democrats move to the middle.
Ideally the first thing that they could do to show this is not putting Nancy Pelosi in as Speaker of the House, and when they fail to do make this intelligent move it will be the first sign that they have no intention of returning to reality and rather plan to make their own party just as psychotic if not more so than Trump has made the GOP.
But let’s, for argument’s sake, say they wanted to return to sanity. How would they do this without completely infuriating the base.
Well, there are a lot of things that both moderates and the traditional left could reasonably see compromise on.
The first is returning to free trade. Free trade is not a left or right issue. Keynesian, Austrians, and Chicago school economists all agree that more free trade is a good thing. Only socialists and nationalists who really don’t understand economics to begin with think that isolationism is in any way a good thing, despite over 200 years of evidence proving free trade is a near absolute good. So what should Democrats do? They should return the tariff powers to Congress and take them away from the executive branch. Democrats can get behind this, capitalist Republicans in the House and Senate can get behind this, as well as any Republicans who still believe in the Constitution (few though they may be these day). A bill that called for all changes in tariff rates requiring at least Senate approval if not full return of all tariff powers to the legislature could easily pass both houses and I think could get to a veto proof position (if it doesn’t that can only mean that the GOP doesn’t care about law, right, truth anymore…and while I think many of them are moral cowards, I think they would sign onto this).
The next thing to do would be to overturn the Jones Act. This arcane piece of protectionist drivel serves no logical purpose and is a direct contributor to suffering in every disaster in US history. Just show all the people who are without food after a hurricane because there aren’t enough ways to get them food because of the Jones Act and it will pass, again quite possibly with a veto proof majority.
The next thing would be to do what the Republican couldn’t and solve the problems of Obamacare. Yes, they’re the party that created this disaster, but as the old Vulcan saying goes, “Only Nixon could go to China.” Voucherize the whole system as AEI scholar Charles Murray has suggested. Every US citizen gets a $3,000 voucher starting at the age of 21 that they can spend on any medical purpose they want. Every insurance company has to offer a $3,000 plan that covers all major medical and pre-existing and long-term care issues. If you want more you or your employer has to pay for it. Replace Medicaid and Medicare with these vouchers as well (hell, a good portion of those programs already use vouchers so there wouldn’t really be much of a choice). You give everyone health care and restore a complete free market and all the competition. The dollar amount comes from the insurance companies on what they need to not go bankrupt and they’ll make their money offering more at less cost on everything above and beyond. And what research has been done on this says that it will be much cheaper than the current systems as you no longer have the government being defrauded, but insurance companies with their far more competent ways of stopping fraud. Further by making this something tied directly to a Social Security number that only US citizens get you get rid of all concern about the program being exploited by immigration and being a drain on the general coffers. It’s cheaper, gets everyone health care and actually shrinks the size of government. I don’t think you could get it to a veto-proof level, and it’s a coin toss if the Der Fuhrer will sign it, but it would show that the Democrats are willing to govern from the middle.
Then comes being the adults on immigration. I will hold that the Constitution gives absolutely no power to regulate immigration, none—and James Madison agreed with me—but I’ll also deal in reality and say that neither side is ready to actually read the Constitution and admit that open borders are the only Constitutional option until someone wants to put an amendment in (which will never happen). So we need to reform the system we have as we move slowly to the actual constitutional option. The first would be offer a path to citizenship for all currently covered by DACA. The next step would be increased funding for an electronic fence (crime at the border will not go away until we grow up and realize we need to legalize drug use and prostitution because the black markets are far more dangerous than an open and regulated market could ever be…so until we become more intelligent and realize that libertarians are right about these issues, there will be human trafficking and drug smuggling at the border). Next we need a guest worker program. H-1 visas need to be expanded drastically and a documented way to get people to cross the jobs for seasonal work needs to be put in place.
If you want to further deal with issues like bringing children then Democrats need to remove federal control from education and allow for more school choice, especially vouchers. School vouchers guarantee that money only goes to the children of those legally here or children who are citizens themselves, thus a state that goes to a completely voucher-based program would not be attractive to an immigrant who had children as free education would no longer be an option.
Next to deal with the problems of education costs. The first thing Congress would need to do is work to improve and streamline the process whereby colleges become accredited and allow trade schools to be accredited for federal loans. Ideally, all federal loans would be discontinued, but I can’t expect the Democrats to grow up that much. So there needs to be a declared freeze on the size of all loan and grant money the Feds will be offering with a published statement that over the next 15 years that amount will reduced by 5% annually—that should give every college time to plan and cut costs appropriately. The next best thing would be to sue colleges that waste money and put monetary restrictions on any institution that accepts federal money, specifically targeted at reducing the size of their bloated bureaucracies (Here I would like to make it so that most schools choose it’s better to cut costs and just not take federal money, but this would be a moderate step in that direction). Finally, while I’m not thrilled with the idea I realize that college debt is just a psychotic drain on the economy and forgive a portion of all debt held by Sallie Mae…I the idea of loan forgiveness but the government is what caused these prices to skyrocket—it’s like the government stabbing someone in the kidney, they cause the problem they should bare some of the cost. Or at the very least treat it like all other debt and allow people to declare bankruptcy. We should also brush off all of Marco Rubio’s idea of how to pay for college.
Next thing I would recommend is that instead of going to that old Democrat favorite of raising taxes they should just fix the Trump tax bill…namely that a capitalist would have removed all the lobbyist bought loopholes and deduction that came with a reduction in the corporate tax rate. Businesses got the lower rate, logically the loopholes should also have gone away. Democrats can fix this, which both increases taxes and make the system MORE CAPITALISTIC. You don’t get that very often. And while you’re at it, remove all corporate welfare and subsidies. And even better it makes the government less of power broker for picking winners and losers. Always better.
After that, they should disband some the useless parts of the federal government. Specifically the DEA. Drug use is at best a state issue (it honestly shouldn’t be a personal issue but again I’m willing to deal in reality). Stop the insanity of the government harasses legal businesses which are selling products the states they are in say are legal. Stop worrying about who is smoking what. And as for the fact that there is still the issue of drugs coming over the border…just give that function to ICE, it’s a far better use of their time than the concentration camp bullshit Trump has them focused on right now.
It’s no shock that corruption is a problem in Washington. Anyone who thinks that Obama was not as corrupt as you get is just as clueless as the Trumpkins who think the orange crook walks on water. And the Democrats need to acknowledge this and start putting in permanent stop-gaps that require constant and endless investigation into both sides of the aisle and the entire bureaucracy from the president on down. And whatever they create needs to have the power indict and prosecute. And it needs to be set up so that it will always have people from both parties in it so that there will always be someone watching over government.
And finally, the bridge they should cross, but I know they won’t, is push for dismantling the entire entitlement state and replacing it with the Universal Basic Income. Welfare, SNAP, Social Security, Public Housing, Unemployment Insurance, Minimum Wage laws and a thousand other programs replaced by a single cash payment to every citizen over the age of 21 (26 would be better, but again, reality). Gone with the Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, HUD, and subdivision of so many others. It costs less, it reduces the power and size of government (which conservatives should love) and it provides the safety net for all Americans that liberals say they want. If the Democrats really had the courage of their convictions and wanted to be the party that was good for America they would push this.
But let’s be honest. Pelosi and Schumer are going to be the petty little bastards they’ve always been and just obstruct all legislation. What they do put forward will be socialist claptrap and nothing will get done.
So let’s go to the option that we should really embrace.
The fact is that Trump has all but renamed his party the National Socialist American Workers Party and as most of the Republican who lost on Tuesday were of the moderate side it’s only going to get worse. Meanwhile, the Democrats following the Sanders/Warren lead should just be honest and rename the party the People’s Socialist Progressive Party. They’ll play to the worst part of both their bases. The good news that part of each base is only about 10% of the general public for each party. Leaving 80% that might be open to sanity.
What needs to happen is that one of the Republicans that has made a principled stand against Trump and his vile behavior has to start right now work to not challenge Trump for the GOP nomination but run as a third party. They need to start now and work to get on the ballot of all 50 states.
It should probably be someone like Ben Sasse or Jeff Flake (I love Mitt but he’s simply too old at this point) and when the time comes to pick a running mate it should probably be as moderate a Democrat as they can find—but we’ll cross that bridge when we come it.
Whoever it is they should start working with people like Evan McMullin’s Stand Up Republic, and other such groups running on many of the things I listed above that can appeal to the rational center.
But there are a few other things they should include as they would not have to worry about a liberal base to keep in line.
The first would be regulation. Yes, Trump is getting rid of regulations, but he’s doing it with the intelligence of a drunk with a chainsaw being told to cut topiary. It will be a while before we can see exactly what is going on, but given the few specific stories we have (such as the corruption in NOAA) it will become clear that the Trump administration probably is getting rid of as many good regulations as bad (which is hard to do given that the vast number of bad regulations, but Trump will find a way). I think we should go back to having dollar value caps for the damage regulation can do. This will force bureaucrats to find the most efficient ways to do the most good with their regulations.
Second, they should push for a fully flat tax. One single deduction that is the same for everyone (probably around $24000, may a secondary deduction for children) but other than that it’s a flat rate (around 20%) for every person after that deduction.
Finally, they need to push as far as possible on federal ground to end such abuses as occupational licensing, asset forfeiture, and bad patent/copyright policy. Those aren’t necessarily as sexy as some issues, but they are important.
I don’t know if it will be Flake or Sasse, but someone who has the publicity and reputation of challenging the evil of this administration without becoming the evil of the other extreme needs to step up and offer us a third way. And it has to be on issues like this. A middle way that meets the desire of the rational sides of both parties and which seeks the good of the nation, the world, and the individual rather than just the oneupmanship of petty party politics.
Something along these lines needs to be done. The only other option is for both parties to get more insane. I think we all need to push for a sane third party to take over.
*If we’re talking ethically he should be in the Chateau D’if in that Cavizel version of Monte Cristo.