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Government

The Anti-Federalists, Entrepreneurship, & the Future of Freedom

September 28th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Like Gladstone, I believe the U.S. Constitution to be “the greatest work ever struck off by the mind and purpose of man.”

Even though it had its flaws—especially slavery—it actually provided for the fixing of these flaws.

The U.S. Constitution, both directly and indirectly, is responsible for the freedom of more people than any other government document in the world’s history.

That said, the anti-Federalists had a point. In fact, they had several.

They were mistaken to oppose ratification of the Constitution, but we would be unwise not to listen to the concerns voiced through their loyal opposition.

They were right about some critical details. In fact, we are dealing with exactly these concerns today.

Entrepreneurs Change the Debate

The brilliance of both sides of the Constitution debate—the Federalists and the anti-Federalists—is an example of how the producer culture and entrepreneurial mindset accomplish the highest quality in citizen involvement—regardless of party politics.

Even in the midst of deeply divided partisan battles, the Federalists and anti-Federalists produced a level of depth, detail, nuance, and excellence in citizen debate that is perhaps unsurpassed either before their time or since.

Today’s citizen dialogue seldom measures up. This is a direct result of that generation’s lifestyle of entrepreneurship, producer-focused education, ownership, initiative, and enterprising mindset.

When a nation of entrepreneurs debates on topics of freedom and leadership, the quality is deeper and richer than when lower classes are uninvolved (as in 1780s Britain) or when most citizen-employees defer to the experts (today’s America).

Anti-Federalist Predictions

The anti-Federalists scrutinized the U.S. Constitution and the federalist papers, and, based on the structures of government, they looked ahead and warned of some of our biggest problems.

They also, in most cases, recommended solutions. We need to heed their words.

What are these challenges, and what can we do about them? To answer both questions, consider six issues the anti-Federalists warned of more than two hundred years ago:

  1. The executive branch will increase influence over the national budget.
  2. National expenditures will increase and eventually bankrupt the nation.
  3. Power will flow consistently away from the states.
  4. The courts will eventually have too much power.
  5. Justice will be lost as government grows.
  6. The treaty power will be abused.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #1: The Executive Branch Will Increase Influence Over National Budget

Prediction: The Executive Branch will increase its say over the national budget and then drastically increase debt, run harmful deficits, engage in unconstitutional military actions, and otherwise run the economy toward ruin.

Unfortunately, this has proven to be accurate. We have learned over time that the people don’t hold the White House accountable for this behavior because every president blames the last political party (in Congress and the Presidency) for the problem.

Both parties use the Executive Branch to commit funding for their projects, even as taxpayers are funding the projects of past administrations.

The Federalists responded to this anti-Federalist warning by correctly pointing out that the Constitution only gives the House of Representatives power over the purse strings.

The Federalists’ “solution” worked for more than a century, but unfortunately for us the Cold War brought secretive and expansive government, and the role of the presidency significantly increased.

Today we are dealing with a system where the House tinkers with and has the final say on national budgets, but the political environment has turned over to the presidency responsibility for proposing, gaining the votes for, and then administering federal budgets.

The House still holds the authority to slow or reject budgets and spending, but it has generally lost the will to use this power. The Executive Branch usually runs the budget.

The result is drastically out-of-control spending. Simple interest payments on the national debt are a huge expense to the taxpayer.

Social Security and other entitlement liabilities can never be fully met without continuing in debt and deficits, as well as drastic and progressive increases in taxes. International military involvement is a mounting problem.

Both political parties like to blame each other for recessions, unemployment, and other economic challenges, but U.S. budgets and spending beyond our means is the underlying problem.

As Larry Summers asked before he joined the Obama Administration, “How can the world’s biggest debtor nation remain its biggest power?”

Note that China, the second largest economy in the world, has huge savings (unlike the former Soviet Union or the current United States) and is a major buyer of U.S. debt.

China has three of the world’s four largest banks, the two largest insurance companies, and the second largest stock market. (See the article “Red Mist” in The Economist.

With all this, the Communist Party remains in control; it also remains firmly communistic in philosophy and is, if possible, increasingly totalitarian.

As for the United States, neither party seems serious about reducing spending. With the Executive Branch running the budgets, spending just keeps increasing.

The Reagan Administration greatly increased spending. Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama all followed suit—just as predicted by the anti-Federalists.

 

Anti-Federalist Prediction #2: National Expenditures Will Increase

Prediction: Expenditures and taxes will generally increase over time until they bankrupt the nation. They will become massive, and never be significantly reduced.

This has not yet entirely occurred, but we certainly appear to be on track toward these results.

As mentioned, whichever party is in power finds ways to promote more expensive projects while we are still paying off past expenses.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #3: Power Will Flow Away From the States

Prediction: Power will flow consistently away from the states and increase the scope, size, and power of the federal government. Only major crisis, where the federal government falls, will ever send significant powers back to the states.

Again, we are perfectly on target for this even though it has not yet fully matured. Federal budgets now dwarf state costs, and many state programs are funded by federal money.

Indeed, this has become a major misunderstanding in modern America.

The media constantly pounds the populace with the message that government is broken—Washington is in gridlock and accomplishes little. In reality, however, this is highly inaccurate.

Each year Washington manages to drastically increase the budget, debt, and deficit. It is spending more and more annually, and each year Congress authorizes many new programs.

A lot is getting done—many would argue too much!

Perhaps we could learn from the British-published magazine The Economist, which wrote in February 2010:

“It is simply not true to say that nothing can get through Congress. Look at…TARP…The stimulus bill…The Democrats have also passed a long list of lesser bills, from investments in green technology to making it easier for women to sue for sexual discrimination…

“America’s political structure was designed to make legislation at the federal level difficult, not easy. Its founders believed that a country the size of America is best governed locally, not nationally…

“The Senate, much ridiculed for antique practices like the filibuster and the cloture vote, was expressly designed as a ‘cooling’ chamber where bills might indeed die unless they commanded broad support.

“Broad support from the voters is something that both the health bill and the cap-and-trade bill clearly lack.”

The Senate has killed bills from Republican and Democratic presidents through the years, but this should be seen as the success of our mixed democratic republic with checks and balances rather than as government not working.

If the Senate had killed more bills in the past century, the power of the states would not have diminished to such a weakened place.

Both major parties often make the ingenuous mistake of claiming to be carrying out the “democratic” will of the people when they have broad voter support, and then when such support is lacking of blaming the Senate and Congress for gridlock, partisanship, and a system that doesn’t work.

When there is widespread dislike of certain proposed policies, not being able to pass them isn’t gridlock, but good government.

The Senate was designed specifically by the founders to protect the states, to leave most things to the state level and only allow issues to receive federal support when they were wanted by a large majority of Americans and needed to be accomplished at the national level.

Indeed, the system works more often than the modern media gives it credit.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #4: The Courts Will Eventually Have Too Much Power

Prediction: The courts will not only be independent but will eventually have too much power because there are really no effective checks on their decisions.

This has happened and is still increasing in its impact. Without checks on the Supreme Court, states have little recourse against growing federal controls over powers previously (and constitutionally) held by the states.

Our freedoms consistently decrease as the Court expands its interpretation of the role of the federal government in our lives.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #5: Justice Will Be Lost as Government Grows

Prediction: Governments will become so big and impersonal that even juries won’t know or care about the accused; enforcing the rules will be more important than true justice. Freedom will significantly decrease as a result.

This has occurred and is still happening.

Before 1896, a jury of peers was not some nominal, demographical designation. The “peers” often actually knew the accused and even the victim personally.

As a result, they not only were quick to put away those who were truly dangerous to society, but they also used their power to oversee the laws and protect citizens from government.

Not only could juries declare someone innocent, they could also nullify laws they considered bad or against freedom.

This system was altered at least partly because it was frequently used in a horrible miscarriage of justice as racist juries ignored the law and both freed white criminals and jailed innocent people from minorities.

It is unfortunate that in response to such abuses we threw out not only racist dominance of juries, but also the concept of juries of known peers.

In fact, the best remedy for discrimination by the justice system could have been juries of true peers, who not only could have protected those falsely accused, but with such empowerment would have been the most motivated to hold accountable the true criminals among them.

When all are equal before the law and are subject to the admonishment and reprisal of true peers, racism is more readily weeded out.

This would have been a great support to abused races, and could have greatly advanced the cause of civil rights in America.

We have never found a way to re-balance this loss of freedom or for the people to quickly overturn the effects of bad laws.

California responded within a few years of the 1896 change in jury power by adopting Recalls and Initiatives, but these still left the people with less power than before.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #6: The Treaty Power Will Be Abused

Prediction: The treaty power will be used to change the Constitution in ways the people don’t even know about and that benefit the rich at the cost of the people’s freedom.

This has happened and still does. In fact, it may soon be a major concern.

For example, when banks fold and endanger entire nations, government can bail them out. The same is true for huge businesses and even state-level governments.

But what happens when nations fail financially?

The old answer was that they became open to attack like Western Europe during the Great Depression. The result was devastating.

To prevent such a disaster from being repeated, the Allies met in 1944 and crafted the Bretton Woods organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Since then, nations who couldn’t pay their debts have been bailed out by the IMF.

In return for such benefits, the borrowing nation submits to “Austerity Measures,” under which the IMF closely watches national policy and government institutions to ensure that the nation does nothing to jeopardize its ability to pay back its loans.

This system has certainly had its share of successes.

But Austerity also amounts to a virtual transfer of sovereignty from national government to IMF regulators—well beyond the power of the citizenry to require accountability or to effect remedies.

So far the United States and most Western European nations have been lenders to the IMF, not debtors.

But if the U.S. ever needed to become a debtor nation, Austerity Measures would prove the anti-Federalist prediction devastatingly true.

For example, when Greece defaulted on its debt payments in early 2010 and Spain threatened to do the same, the European Union came to the rescue.

The IMF was called in to advise the EU, and Austerity was established over the Greek government.

Many citizens (including a huge number of professionals and managers) took to the streets in protest.

But instead of protesting a drastic loss of freedom to Austerity, they were upset because of wage freezes.

There are three ways the U.S. can avoid Austerity at some point in the future.

First, we can tighten our belts, reduce government expenditures, and deregulate and lower taxes on small businesses, which historically make up 80 percent of our economy’s growth.

This would convince many employers to hire and consumers to spend.

Second, we could borrow from other nations. China has a huge surplus of government and also private savings, and it wants to invest in the United States. Indeed it is our largest creditor now.

Other nations may also be persuaded to keep supporting our spending habits. But one has to wonder why our philosophical opponent (communist China) wants to invest so much.

Are its motives pure? What if they’re not? Is it a simple profit motive? What if it’s something more?

As Peggy Noonan wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

“People are freshly aware of the real-world implications of a $1.6 trillion deficit, of a $14 trillion debt. It will rob American of its economic power, and eventually even of its ability to defend itself. Militaries cost money. And if other countries own our debt, don’t they in some new way own us? If China holds enough of your paper, does it also own some of your foreign policy? Do we want to find out?”

A third possible method of solving our debt problem is to borrow from huge international corporations. This carries the same problems as borrowing from nations.

Note that if we do eventually take IMF loans, they will only pay the interest on the debts. We will have to pay back the original loans, and an international team of regulators will run our national economic policy and make our economic decisions.

If Americans are frustrated with Congress, imagine their frustration with a group of international bank officials running our economy—bankers who may not have as their motive either to see us out of debt to them or to strengthen our economy, society, international influence, or other elements of our way of life.

The rule of international borrowing is simple: The lenders make the rules.

Method one of facing our economic reality—returning to an incentivizing free enterprise system and living within our means—is hard.

Neither political party wants to promote it, and whoever does implement it will probably be blamed for higher short-term unemployment, stock market losses, and a worsened recession.

In the long term, however, this course will revitalize America’s economy and free lifestyle.

The other two options keep America in economic decline and will eventually result in reduced political power, weaker national security, and fallen status.

They will also, most importantly, lead to a significant decrease in our freedoms and the prosperity of our children and grandchildren.

This is our choice: Make the tough decisions now, or lose freedoms and prosperity for generations. So far we have passed on making the right choice.

No wonder independents, tea partyists, and the far left are so frustrated with both Republicans and Democrats.

Moreover, economic downturns are three-headed dragons; and to this point we have only faced recession and high unemployment.

Inflation is likely to be the next crisis, and it may very well rekindle and worsen the first two.

Whatever we decide to do economically, we should, like the Federalists and anti-Federalists, clearly understand one thing: Economics and freedom are directly linked.

A debtor nation is less free than when it was solvent.

Solutions Old and New

The anti-Federalist solutions for these problems may well have helped. They proposed that the people amend the Constitution, specifically in the following ways:

  1. The Bill of Rights would include the requirement that juries consist of local peers who know the accused and can protect citizens from government.
  2. Treaties would require full debate in and passage by Congress—just like laws.
  3. Any decision by the Supreme Court could be overridden by a majority of the States.

How effective these amendments would have been is debatable.

But the answer may be found in another proposed anti-Federalist amendment which actually did get passed.

To counter the danger of huge expenditures and taxes by the Executive Branch, loss of power from the House to the Presidency, and transfer of powers from the States to the federal government, the anti-Federalists wanted an amendment clearly stating that all power not specifically given by the Constitution to the federal government would be retained by the states.

The anti-Federalists got their way in the ratification of the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Unfortunately, these were weakened by Court cases between 1803 and 1820, and later by treaties adopted between 1944 and 2001.

We the People

It turns out that Constitutional limits and language are only guaranteed to last as long as the people are vigilantly involved.

No matter what the Constitution says, it won’t endure if the people don’t closely read it and demand that it be followed.

In this sense they are the fourth branch of government: The Overseers.

When the people stop requiring officials and experts to adhere to the Constitution, those in power alter the Constitution, redefine its precepts, and sometimes mutually agree upon a revisionist and opportunistic definition of its language.

The people are left out of the decision, and their freedoms decrease.

At times, as designed, constitutional checks and balances keep one branch from usurping power even if the people aren’t involved.

But the greater danger occurs when a collusion of branches agree in taking away power from the states or the people (this happens too often, especially since Butler v. the United States in 1936).

Arguably the most important document for freedom ever created by mankind was established and ratified by those who supported the U.S. Constitution.

The second deepest freedom analysis of government was provided by their opponents, the anti-Federalists.

This second group saw that whatever a Constitution says, as important as it certainly is, the people simply must stay actively involved or they will inevitably see their freedoms decline.

The Producer Perspective

The fact that both groups came from a society of owners and producers is neither surprising nor insignificant.

Owners value freedom over security, see the most decorated experts and celebrities as merely other citizens, and see their own role as citizen as vital to society.

Producers think in terms of protecting society’s freedoms, and they simply don’t believe this responsibility can ever be delegated or ignored.

Successful ownership, farming, and entrepreneurship are all about keeping track of all the details; taking action whenever it is needed to achieve the desired results; listening to the counsel of experts and authorities—and then leading by making the best decisions even if they goes against expert advice; and building effective teams that work together without depending too much on those at the top.

People trained and experienced in such skills are truly competent in handling and preserving freedom.

What we need in our day is not necessarily more specific proposals from the Federalists or anti-Federalists.

Rather, we need a return to the producer-entrepreneurial style of thinking and expertise that founded and built the freest nation in history.

If we want a society of freedom that lasts and prospers, we must as citizens become talented and practiced in the arts of freedom.

America was created on the basis of freedom, and until we choose to become a citizenry steeped in freedom principles and actively involved in their promotion, freedom will not likely increase.

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Constitution &Entrepreneurship &Government &Liberty &Producers

Overcoming Hamilton’s Curse: Specific Solutions that Only Entrepreneurs can Provide

September 23rd, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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When America decided to follow Alexander Hamilton’s economic model instead of the Jeffersonian system, a number of changes occurred which now haunt our generation.

Jefferson envisioned a nation of small farm and shop owners that spread around leadership and prosperity, while Hamilton preferred a mercantile system with a few wealthy owners employing the large majority of the populace.

Hamilton felt that an increase in wealth among the leading families would make up for the reduced freedom and less-widespread prosperity under a mercantile economy.

After all, this was the model used by the most powerful nations in Europe.

Ironically, we have now reached a point where the greatest challenges we face are caused by the mercantile system and can likely only be solved by an entrepreneurial mindset.

Funny how history pulls these types of pranks.

Failed Solutions

Unfortunately, the two main sides emphasize government solutions (more government-provided jobs and stricter regulation against corporations and bonuses) versus big-business mercantilism (hire and fire as best fits company projections, and move operations abroad to less hostile regulatory environments with cheaper labor—or in other words, business as usual).

A third view comes from frustrated populists who want Washington to get its act together and fix the economy.

All three of these views miss the point.

Wall Street, Washington, and Main Street still seek Hamiltonian solutions: “Big institutions should fix things for us.”

The specific challenges we face, however, don’t lend themselves to institutional fixes. Our current problems need precisely entrepreneurial-type solutions.

This isn’t the old debate of whether public or private programs are best. The truth is, that debate nearly always promoted institutional fixes.

What we need now are patently non-institutional innovations.

Major Challenges

Consider the major problems we are facing.

Most are the natural results of too much reliance on institutional size and power and not enough initiative, innovation, and leadership from “little guys.”

Of course, the few who are entrepreneurs do an amazing job against increasing odds.

But a major shift to the Producer Mindset is needed to overcome our current challenges—and more such challenges will continue to arise as long as we stay addicted to big institutions.

Specifically, the major concerns we’re facing in the years and decades ahead include the following:

  • Running out of money for social security and many other entitlements.
  • The flight of many in the entrepreneurial class to Brazil, India and other places with less regulation of small business.
  • The wartime economy of China that is built to thrive in times of conflict (and struggles in times of peace).
  • The end of privacy as government is pressured to oversee everyone and all things in the name of security and protection from terrorism.
  • The end of America’s production base as industry continues to go abroad and we continue to train the world’s attorneys instead of more engineers and inventors.
  • The growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. and globally.

Also consider the following items that will peak and commence declining in the years immediately ahead, as outlined in the book Peak Everything: Waking Up to a Century of Declines by energy expert Richard Heinburg:

  • Oil availability and cheap fossil fuels to drive the economy
  • Fresh water availability per capita
  • Easy, cheap, quick mobility
  • Available land in agricultural production
  • Political stability
  • Safe, inexpensive food

Only one of these looming challenges (security against possible Chinese aggression) can be effectively solved directly by government as it is now constituted.

And even this could be beyond the government’s scope if attacks are not military but cyberwar¹ on, say, America’s financial records or utility providers.²

A truly free government emphasizing a free enterprise economy would help against all of these, by empowering entrepreneurial action, wealth, and innovation to meet each challenge.

Heinburg’s solution to these problems is “fifty million farmers,” which he describes as a drastic increase in the number of small farmers.

Such people, Jefferson predicted long ago, own their own land and bring initiative and tenacity to producing food and also free citizens.

While the problems we face are clearly greater than a mere shift to locavorism will remedy, the heart and mind of the citizen farmer is a good start.

In addition to farmers, we need millions of producers of all kinds applying entrepreneurial talents and skills to overcoming our biggest challenges.

Habits & Complexes

There are at least two major roadblocks hindering this needed Freedom Shift.

The first is habit. Our society has become habituated, at times addicted, to certain lifestyles.

For example, when the recession hit, people spent more money, not less, at McDonald’s. We are habituated to eating out, and tightening our belts in hard times has come to include eating even more french fries.

Perhaps our most debilitating rut as a culture is a dependence on experts. Until we kick this dependency, how can we rise above the statistics and become a nation of entrepreneurs and leaders?

The answer, as challenging as it is, is for entrepreneurs to show us the way, and to keep at it until more of us start to heed.

The second huge roadblock is our complexity. Indeed, we have reached a level of complexity where simplicity itself is suspect.

For example, the simple reality is that jobs migrate to less difficult nations. It’s the old Rule of Capital: Capital goes where it is treated well.

In nations that have become too complex, taxes and regulation cause at least a doubling of the amount employers must spend on labor.

Many experts call this “progress,” but the natural result is that many companies respond by sending their operations and jobs to less costly nations.

When this happens, complex nations react in an amazing way: They villainize the companies (“greedy profiteers”) rather than reducing taxes and regulations to entice companies back home.

Then they take an incredible extra step: They increase taxes and regulations even more on the businesses that stayed!

The result? More money flees and recession inevitably comes.

At this point, when the need is obviously to lure businesses, capital, and jobs back home with decreased regulation and taxes, nations that are too complex actually compound the negative situation as angry workers cry out for more regulations and controls.

Freedom, prosperity and stability all suffer.

As Ken Kurson put it,

“Our bipartisan addiction to spending and borrowing pairs with a hostility toward employers that makes real recovery difficult.”³

Or, as the Governor of Minnesota said:

“I was talkin’ to people this morning who run small businesses. Where’s their bailout?”4

People who point out how ridiculous this is are often labeled extremists or radicals. Simple answers aren’t often very popular in complex nations.

Sadly, only major crisis is usually enough to get people to listen to simple solutions.

Poor Complexion

Another example is found in the issue of health care.

Health care costs consistently increase where voluminous regulations along with medical lawsuits cause huge malpractice insurance costs.

When government seeks to regulate and force the costs down, it must find a way to reduce litigation and payouts.

But in complex society, people want to have their cake and eat it too.

They want health care to cost less and also to leave doctors and insurance companies paying for incredibly expensive lawsuits.

How is it possible to get both? “The government should make it so,” is the answer of a complex society. But how? “The government should just fix it.”

This amazingly naïve view of things is the result of complexity. Far too many citizens don’t even expect to be able to understand the issue, so they leave it to the experts.

And once all is in the hands of experts, they are expected to solve everything without any pain or problem to the populace. After all, they’re the experts, right?

Those who benefit most from the costs of lower health care either need to forego the threat of so many lawsuits or be willing to pay higher prices.

But such simple answers don’t convince in complex societies.

One more example is interesting. Hamilton argued in The Federalist Papers that for society to be free the legal code would need to be long, detailed and difficult to understand.

He based this on the systems in Europe at the time. But these were the very systems the founders fought to abandon.

In contrast, Jefferson, Madison and many others taught that complex laws and legal codes were sure signs of oppression.

They agreed with Montesquieu, Locke and Hume and that laws must be simple, concise and brief, and indeed that the entire legal code must be simple enough that every citizen knows the entire law.

If a person doesn’t know the law, they argued, he shouldn’t be held liable for breaking it or freedom is greatly reduced.

In complex society, most attorneys don’t even know the whole law.

The Right Level of Complexity

The main criticism of simple societies is that they are often intolerant, controlling, and narrow-minded. This is an accurate and good criticism, and such simple societies are not the ideal.

Indeed, Madison shows the negatives of such societies in Federalist Papers eighteen through twenty.

He proposes that by establishing a large nation and a free constitution we can simultaneously establish both an open, modern, and progressive society and a free, prosperous, and happy nation.

Fortunately, we are not forced to choose between a stupidly simple nation and an overly complex one.

The ideal is a nation sufficiently complex to promote progress, toleration, cooperation, and growth and one with enough simple common sense to achieve freedom, prosperity, and opportunity.

This is the traditional entrepreneurial mix.

Whereas mercantilism values a few cosmopolitan elites employing a mass of less urbane managers and workers, in contrast the entrepreneurial challenge has always been to balance complex and intricate details with simple and effective systems and results.

In short, we need more entrepreneurs running more small, medium and large institutions in society.

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

The success of the next few decades will depend on certain types of people with certain skills and abilities.

The talents and habits of “The Company Man” came into vogue in the 1950s and helped create a society of professionals, experts and officials. This greatly benefited the final half-decade (1955-2005) of the Industrial Age surge.

But as the Information Age moved past infancy (1964-1991) and began its rebellious growth to adulthood (1992-2008), many became aware that change was ahead.

As the Information Age grasps maturity and takes over in the 2010s and 2020s, major alterations in society are inevitable.

The Company Man is now replaced by what David Brooks called Patio Man: Individualists who want personal freedom, enough income to pay the bills plus some extra spending money, a government that provides national security and keeps jobs plentiful, a nice house, a nice car each for him and her, a grill, a good movie tonight and friends over for the big game on Sunday.

At first, this was paid for by one working parent, then by both.

But unless something changes, this lifestyle is at an end for all but the wealthiest tenth of the population.

The thing which facilitated such a lifestyle in the first place was the prosperity generated by entrepreneurship, and the only thing that can maintain such a lifestyle and still pay off our society’s debts and obligations is a drastic increase in the number of entrepreneurs.

Period.

Specific Entrepreneurial Challenges

Let’s get specific. Either a generation of entrepreneurs will arise or the “Patio Man” lifestyle will end.

Very soon, the following must occur:

  1. Entrepreneurs must figure out how to cover their own retirement and that of their employees and many others so that when we run out of money for social security and other entitlements it just won’t matter.
  2. Entrepreneurs must figure out how to compete with the entrepreneurial classes of Brazil, India, and other places with less regulation of small business.
  3. Entrepreneurs must figure out how to rebuild a strong American industrial base to provide the basic foundational economic strengths of society.
  4. Entrepreneurs must figure out how to replace an oil-driven economy with cheaper and hopefully better and cleaner energy alternatives.
  5. Entrepreneurs must figure out how to provide inexpensive and quality fresh water, food, and mobility without cheap oil.

Researchers, experts, professionals, employees and governments do not have the ability to make these things happen. They will be needed to help accomplish these vital needs, but ultimately it will require the skills of entrepreneurs.

These types of changes are the arena of entrepreneurial talents and free enterprise innovations, not of legislative discussions, bureaucratic rules, or expert publications.

Legislatures, bureaucrats, and experts are important to society and are good at certain things, but initiative, innovation, taking major risks, and tenacious ingenuity are not their forte.

As significant as these challenges are, we need the best of the best solving them.

If entrepreneurs accomplish the goals listed above, we will naturally see increased political stability, a well-funded government that can protect against Chinese or other international aggression, and a narrowing gap between the rich and poor.

It will also take a widespread entrepreneurial mindset to figure out how to effectively thwart terrorism without turning the government into a secretive surveillance state, and also help the nation evolve into a less litigious and more productive society.

Government cannot wisely do either of these projects, since it is a central party to both.

And big corporations also have a conflict of interest; they would naturally use both projects to increase their own power at the cost of freedom.

Entrepreneurs are more suited to succeed in these projects than any other group, and to then share their views with the citizenry.

The most critical problems we now face are also our greatest opportunities.

We need more entrepreneurs, and we need entrepreneurs who engage more in social leadership.

Our future now, more than at any time since the founding and pioneering eras, depends on producers.

Hamilton’s ideas contributed much to American growth, but it is time for a renewal of the Jeffersonian spirit of independence and initiative—in all of us.

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Sources:

  1. From the article entitled, “Good for Some” in the 2/13/10 issue of The Economist: “In January Google suffered a serious attack on its infrastructure, originating in China. On February 2nd Dennis Blair, the White House director of national intelligence, went to a Senate committee to give an annual threat assessment. He used it to give a warning of a large and far-reaching threat. Sophisticated cyber-criminals are stealing sensitive government information every day, Mr. Blair explained, and state agencies often find shadowy presences on their networks—‘the hallmark of an unknown adversary intending to do far more than merely demonstrate skill or mock a vulnerability.’ An overarching concern is that in a time of crisis network infrastructure might be seriously compromised.”
  2. See James Fallows, “Cyber Warriors,” The Atlantic, March 2010. See Israel on its Internet Fighting Team in Harper’s Index, Harpers Magazine, November 2009.
  3. Ken Kurson, “A Hedge Fund for Little Guys,” Esquire, March 2010.
  4. Governor Tim Pawlenty, quoted by Mark Warren in “The Dark Horse,” Esquire, March 2010.

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Government &Producers &Prosperity

Entrepreneurs of the World, Unite!

September 22nd, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Click Here to Download a PDF of This Article

A revolution is needed.

Not just any revolution, mind you, but a specific kind of freedom shift that will make the critical difference.

In order to progress, we need a renaissance of the entrepreneurial mentality and many millions of entrepreneurs in our society.

The recession has already helped increase awareness of this need. The Information Age is naturally offering many improvements over the Industrial Age, but simple access to more information is not enough.

What we do with the increased power of widespread information is the key.

The great benefit of the Nomadic Age was family and community connection and a feeling of true belonging, while the Agrarian Age brought improved learning, science and art, and eventually democratic freedoms.

The Industrial Age allowed more widespread distribution of prosperity and social justice, and many improved lifestyle options through technological advances.

Unfortunately, during the Industrial Age many freedoms were decreased as free nations turned to big institutions and secretive agencies for governance.

The industrial belief in the conveyor belt impacted nearly every major aspect of life, from education and health care to agriculture, industry, business, law, media, family, elder care, groceries, clothing, and on and on.

Whether the end product was goods or services, these all became systemized on assembly lines—from production to delivery and even post-purchase customer service.

At the same time, we widely adopted certain industrial views which became cultural, such as “Bigger is always better,” “It’s just business,” “Perception is reality,” and many others. In truth, all of these are usually more false than true, but they became the cultural norm in nearly all of modern life.

Perhaps the most pervasive and negative mantra promoted by modernism is that success in life is built on becoming an employee and its academic corollary that the purpose of education is to prepare for a job.

Certainly some people want to make a job the focus of their working life, but a truly free and prosperous society is built on a system where a large number of the adult population spends its working days producing as owners, entrepreneurs and social leaders.

Producer vs. Employee Society

A society of producers is more likely to promote freedom than a society of dependents. Indeed, only a society of producers can maintain freedom.

Most nations in history have suffered from a class system where the “haves” enjoyed more rights, opportunities and options than the “have nots.” This has always been a major threat to freedom.

The American framers overcame this by establishing a new system where every person was treated equally before the law.

This led to nearly two centuries of increasing freedoms for all social classes, both genders and all citizens—whatever their race, religion, health, etc.

During the Industrial Age this system changed in at least two major ways.

First, the U.S. commercial code was changed to put limits on who can invest in what.

Rather than simply protecting all investors (rich or poor) against fraud or other criminal activity, in the name of “protecting the unsophisticated,” laws were passed that only allow the highest level of the middle class and the upper classes to invest in the investments with the highest returns.

This created a European-style model where only the rich own the most profitable companies and get richer while the middle and lower classes are stuck where they are.

Second, the schools at all levels were reformed to emphasize job training rather than quality leadership education.

Today, great leadership education is still the staple at many elite private schools, but the middle and lower classes are expected to forego the “luxury” of opportunity-affording, deep leadership education and instead just seek the more “practical” and “relevant” one-size-fits-all job training.

This perpetuates the class system.

This is further exacerbated by the reality that public schools in middle-class zip codes typically perform much higher than lower-class neighborhood schools.

Private elite schools train most of our future upper class and leaders, middle-class public schools train our managerial class and most professionals, and lower-class public schools train our hourly wage workers.

Notable exceptions notwithstanding, the rule still is what it is.

Government reinforces the class system by the way it runs public education, and big business supports it through the investment legal code.

With these two biggest institutions in society promoting the class divide, lower and middle classes have limited power to change things.

The Power of Entrepreneurship

The wooden stake that overcomes the vampire of an inelastic class system is entrepreneurial success.

Becoming a producer and successfully creating new value in society helps the entrepreneur surpass the current class-system matrix, and also weakens the overall caste system itself.

In short, if America is to turn the Information Age into an era of increased freedom and widespread economic opportunity, we need more producers.

How do we accomplish this Freedom Shift?

First of all, we must get past the obvious wish that Congress should simply equalize investment laws and allow everyone to be equal before the law.

Neither government nor big business has a vested interest in this change, and neither, therefore, does either major political party.

Nor does either side see much reason to change the public education system to emphasize entrepreneurial over employee training.

Either of these changes, or both, would be nice, but neither is likely.

What is more realistic is a grassroots return to American initiative, innovation and independence.

Specifically, regular people of all classes need to become producers.

A renaissance of entrepreneurship (building businesses), social entrepreneurship (building private service institutions like schools and hospitals), intrapreneurship (acting like an entrepreneur within an established company), and social leadership (taking entrepreneurial leadership into society and promoting the growth of freedom and prosperity) is needed.

Along with this, parents need to emphasize personalized, individualized educational options for their youth and to prepare them for entrepreneurship and producership, rather than cultivating in them dependence on employeeship.

If these two changes occur, we will see a significant increase in freedom and prosperity.

The opposite is obviously true, as well: The long-anticipated “train wreck” in society and politics is not so difficult to imagine as it was twenty years ago.

The education of the rising generation in self-determination, crisis management, human nature, history, and indeed, the liberal arts and social leadership in general, is the historically-proven best hope for our future liberty and success.

If entrepreneurial and other producer endeavors flourish and grow, it will naturally lead to changes in the commercial code that level the playing field for people from all economic levels and backgrounds.

Until the producer class is growing, there is little incentive to deconstruct the class system.

More than 80 percent of America’s wealth comes from small businesses, and when these grow, so will our national prosperity.

Today there are numerous obstacles to starting and growing small businesses. There will be many who lament that the current climate is not friendly to new enterprises.

Frontiers have ever been thus, and our forebears plunged headlong into greater threats. What choice did they have? What choice do we have? What if they hadn’t? What if we don’t?

The hard reality is that until the producer class is growing there will be little power to change this situation.

As long as the huge majority is waiting for the government to provide more jobs, we will likely continue to see increased regulation on small business that decreases the number of new private-sector jobs and opportunities.

The only realistic solution is for Americans to engage their entrepreneurial initiative and build new value.

This has always been the fundamental source of American prosperity.

The Growing Popularity of Producer Education

Consider what leading thinkers on the needs of American education and business are saying.

In Revolutionary Wealth, renowned futurist Alvin Toffler says that schools must deemphasize outdated industrial-style education with its reliance on rote memorization, the skill of fitting in with class-oriented standards, and “getting the right answers,” and instead infuse schools with creativity, individualization, independent and original thinking skills, and entrepreneurial worldviews.

Harvard’s Howard Gardner argued in Five Minds for the Future that all American students must learn the following entrepreneurial skills: “the ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres,” and the “capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena.”

John Naisbitt, bestselling author of Megatrends, wrote in Mind Set! that success in the new economy will require the right leadership mindset much more than Industrial-Age credentials or status.

Tony Wagner wrote in The Global Achievement Gap that the skills needed for success in the new economy include such producer abilities as: critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leading by influence, agility, adaptability, curiosity, imagination, effective communication, initiative and entrepreneurialism.

Former Al Gore speechwriter Daniel Pink writes in A Whole New Mind that the most useful and marketable skills in the decades ahead will be the entrepreneurial abilities of high-concept thinking and high-touch leading.

Seth Godin makes the same case for the growing need for entrepreneurial-style leaders in his business bestsellers Tribes and Linchpin.

Malcolm Gladwell arrives at similar conclusions in the bestselling book Outliers.

There are many more such offerings, all suggesting that the future of education needs to emphasize training the rising generations to think and act like entrepreneurs.

Indeed, without a producer generation, the Information Age will not be a period of freedom or spreading prosperity. Still, few schools are heeding this research.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has shown in The Post-American World that numerous nations around the world are now drastically increasing their influence and national prosperity.

All of them are doing it in a simple way: by incentivizing entrepreneurial behavior and a growing class of producers.

Unlike aristocratic classes, successful entrepreneurs are mostly self-made (with the help of mentors and colleagues) and have a deep faith in free enterprise systems, which allow opportunity to all people regardless of their background or starting level of wealth.

Entrepreneurs and Freedom

History is full of anti-government fads, from the French and Russian revolutionists to tea-party patriots in Boston and anti-establishment protestors at Woodstock, among many others. Some revolutions work, and others fail.

The ones that succeed, the ones that build lasting change and create a better world, are led by entrepreneurial spirit and behavior. As more entrepreneurs succeed, the legal system naturally becomes more free.

As more people take charge of their own education, utilizing the experts as tutors and mentors but refusing to be dependent on the educational establishment, individualized education spreads and more leaders are prepared.

With more leaders, more people succeed as producers, and the cycle strengthens and repeats itself.

Freedom is the result of initiative, ingenuity and tenacity in the producer class. These are also the natural consequences of personalized leadership education and successful entrepreneurial ventures.

For anyone who cares about freedom and wants to pass the blessings of liberty on to our children and grandchildren, we need to get one thing very clear: A revolution of entrepreneurs is needed.

We need more of them, and those who are already entrepreneurs need to become even better social leaders. Without such a revolution, freedom will be lost.

Click Here to Download a PDF of This Article

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &History &Information Age &Liberty &Producers

Save the Cheerleader

September 21st, 2010 // 4:00 am @

In our current two-party system, independents need the two big parties.

There is, of course, an Independent Party, and people have differentiated members of this party from independents by using the phrase “small ‘I’ independents” to denote those who aren’t part of any party.

Few independents have any interest in joining a third party. They consider this a worse option than signing up as a Democrat or Republican.

Most independents share a frustration with both major parties, and they see partisanship itself as symptomatic of America’s problem. Independents especially dislike the political wrangling of party battles.

But let’s get one thing clear: In nearly all elections, most independents end up voting for a candidate from one of the two big parties.

There are several lessons to be learned from this.

Let’s Party!

First, independents need the parties.

Perhaps a non-party arrangement like the one envisioned by America’s founding fathers will someday offer a better system. Or maybe independents will eventually take over one of the major parties.

But in our current system, independents need the parties to be and do their best. Independents need to be able to choose between the highest caliber of candidates and policies, and the sheer numbers affect both the ability to get a message out, and the ability to attract willing candidates.

Bottom line: the parties are still providing the available options for our votes.

Second, the two-party system needs independents.

When the big parties hold a monopoly on political dialogue and innovation, centrist members of both parties congeal together a great deal and the parties often seem more alike than different.

Throw large numbers of independents into the mix, however, and the parties are forced to energetically debate their platform and the weaknesses of their opposition’s candidates, policies and so forth.

They have to articulate their message more clearly and differentiate themselves in order to garner independent votes.

Ironically, as much as independents abhor political fighting, it is by contrasting themselves with such “vulgarity” that thoughtful, idealistic and principled independents define themselves.

Not as a group, of course—but as individuals who are independent of and above the disingenuous and exploitive methods and motivations they believe typify the party loyalists.

The noisy and unproductive debate is the point to which independents are counter-point.

At the same time (and this is point number three), the strong influence of independents keeps either party from obtaining too much power for long.

Studied, serious-minded citizens who think and act independently and make their influence felt are exactly the type of citizens the American founders hoped would populate the republic.

Party loyalties too often reduce this level of independence. At their best, independents function as much-needed checks and balances on the two-party system that has become too powerful.

Party People

The independents need the parties, and the two-party system needs the independents.

But a fourth lesson might be the most important. The individual parties themselves actually need independents.

Political parties are only as strong as their collective members, and there are certain types of members that are extremely valuable to party influence.

For example, parties benefit from Traditionalist members—people who were raised with passionate loyalties to Democrats or Republicans.

Such members nearly always vote for the party and its candidates, and often they cast straight party votes without seriously considering other options. Their allegiance to the long view of Party dominance overshadows their concerns and even outright disagreements with the Party.

Politicos are a second important group of members in any party.

Politicos love politics. They watch it with as much interest and passion as dedicated sports fans follow their team. Politicos listen to party leaders, think about and memorize talking points (often unconsciously), and promote the party line. They also study lots of literature debunking the other party and pass along these arguments.

A third type found in both parties is the Intellectual. Intellectual Partyists are distinguished most by their habits of skepticism and asking questions. They consider party literature mere propaganda and instead search out and study original sources.

Intellectuals typically read opposing party sources as much or more as works from their own party.

Policy Wonks are a fourth type in any party, and they care most about specific proposals, plans and models, and enjoy studying them in detail, discovering patterns and flaws, and creating counter-proposals and solutions.

They examine, scrutinize, analyze, write and attend lots of seminars, panels and other events filled with discussion. Most of them make their living doing this in academia, media, punditry, the lecture circuit or blogosphere, or the like.

Party Leadership

A fifth type of party people, Activists, are usually familiar with the other types but they put most of their effort into influencing state or federal legislative votes, agency policies, judicial cases or executive acts.

They are found at all levels of government from local to international organizations. Some of them put most of their focus into elections.

Party Officios, a sixth type of party promoters, hold party positions (voluntary and informal as well as official) in local precincts all the way up to national committees.

Some are full-time paid professionals or experts, but the large majority of them voluntarily serve as officers, delegates, candidates, unofficial advisors and other roles in the party.

Among party Officios are those holding office. These elected and appointed officials represent their party in specific positions of public service.

Seventh and eighth types are Donors and Fundraisers. They of course play important roles in all parties, since politics is expensive and funding often significantly influences policy and elections.

There are various other types of people that help parties succeed, but the most influential type of all is the people who could simply be called “Majorities.”

The obvious power of Majorities is that they have the numbers and therefore the votes to steer the party. They elect the delegates who elect the party candidates, and their influence is deeply and widely felt in general elections.

Majorities are mostly made up of regular, non-politician, thinking citizens who have the most influence on party delegates, general donations and the general voters.

Majority types are usually not Traditionalists, Politicos, Officios, Wonks or political experts.

But they keep track of what is happening in society and think seriously about political concerns, issues and elections. They spread their influence day after day and impact thinking widely and consistently.

The media is seldom able to predict close elections because of this wildcard: Since Majorities’ type of engagement is largely internal and interpersonal, and because their influence is largely in a realm that is under-valued (or perhaps beyond the control of) those in power, it is almost impossible to know what Majorities are really thinking and to predict how they will impact outcomes.

Save the Cheerleader

So why do the parties need independents?

At first glance, it might appear that the parties would do better if independents would just split and join the big parties.

But a deeper analysis shows how significant the growth of independents has become.

Independents aren’t just the new numerical majority; they are the barometer of success.

As a type, independents aren’t Traditionalists, Politicos or Officios. Most of them are Majorities, and a lot of them are Wonks.

In short, they care little about the future of the party, and a lot about helping both people in particular, and the nation in general.

Parties need the votes of independents, but they need something more. The two big parties both need independent Majorities.

When they are receiving independent support, they know that they are probably on track. Or, when they lose independents, they know to step back reevaluate their direction.

There are certainly times when government officials need to ignore independents and everyone else and stand firm on the right path.

But most times they can pretty much tell how well they are doing by finding out what the independents are thinking.

Of course, independents aren’t always right. But they are right more often than the big parties because in general, they care more about the nation than about party power. Madison and Jefferson would applaud.

This is a great benefit to both parties. In some ways, independents have made it easy for politicians. Win the independents, win the election.

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Government &Independents &Politics

Independents & the Tea Party Movement

September 20th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Click Here to Download a PDF of this Article

Much of the media represents what it calls a “third” view as sometimes independents and other times the Tea Party.

In recent elections, these two groups have often voted together. They both tend to vote against entrenched power, and they both support better fiscal discipline from our leaders.

Beyond these two similarities, however, they bear little resemblance.

The Tea Party is angry at Washington. Independents want to see Washington get its act together.

The Tea Party is comparatively extreme in its views and strident in the tone of its arguments. Independents are typically moderate in viewpoint as well as methodology.

A majority of Tea Party supporters are former Republicans who feel disenfranchised from the GOP. Independents come from all parts of the political spectrum.

Tea Party enthusiasts tend to promote “revolution”—although their platform is more clearly defined by what they object to than by what they propose to do about it. Independents want substantive and tenable reform.

Tea Party crowds often act like football fans during big rivalry games. Independents most often talk like accountants analyzing today’s financials.

The Tea Parties want big, symbolic, massive change. They’re pretty clear on whom they think is to blame for America’s problems and they frequently recur to name-calling and sarcasm to make their point. Independents want certain policies to be passed that significantly improve government and society.

Tea Party supporters see themselves as part of a big fight, and they want to win and “send the bad guys packing.” Independents want the fighting, name calling, mudslinging and partisan wrangling to stop and for our leaders to just sit down together and calmly work up solutions to our major national challenges.

Voting

Tea Parties are bringing out more conservative voters to take on the Democratic majority. Independents are voting against Democrats right now because they want to see real progress, just like they voted against Republicans during much of the last decade.

If the Republican Party swings right, most of the Tea Partiers will consider their work done. If the Republican Party swings right, most independents will give it far less support.

Tea Parties are viscerally against liberalism. Independents will vote against Democrats on some issues and against Republicans on others, always throwing their support behind the issues and projects they think will best help America.

Few Tea Partiers voted for Obama. Many independents did. A lot of Tea Partiers see Sarah Palin as a viable presidential candidate. Hardly any independents support Palin or consider her a viable candidate for high federal office. Most Tea Party members vehemently disliked Ted Kennedy. Many independents like him a lot.

Many Tea Party supporters want Obama to fail, and in fact believe that he has already failed. A majority of independents are frustrated with President Obama’s work so far but sincerely hope he will turn it around by shifting his focus and adopting what they consider moderate and needed changes.

The Tea Party tends to compare Obama to the likes of Hitler, while most independents admire and like Obama personally even while disagreeing with the substance of some of his policies.

In short, Tea Partiers and independents aren’t cut from the same cloth and actually have very little in common. But, as mentioned, they have been voting together for the last six months and will likely continue to do so for some time ahead.

That being said, they are unlikely to stay connected in the long term. Of course, there are a number of independents who have aligned themselves with the Tea Party or Tea Party events in order to have an impact right now.

That’s what independents do.

How Populism Succeeds

Which group [independents or the Tea Party] is most likely to last? The answer probably depends on upcoming elections.

The Tea Parties are a populist movement, meaning that their popularity requires at least three things:

  1. An agreed upon enemy with enough power to evoke strong fears, anger and emotion
  2. An upcoming event to rally around, such as elections or national seminars
  3. A sense that they can actually change everything quickly and drastically

The first and second factors will stay around as long as a Democrat is in the White House.

Tea Party fervor may be lessened by the midterm elections if, and only if, a lot of Democrats lose—but will likely resurge again as the next presidential election nears.

The third requirement is what has generally doomed all historical populist movements. The Tea Party revolt is new and may gain energy. But things will change as soon as one major (and inevitable) event occurs.

When the Tea Party wins a major election and then watches its newly-elected candidates take office and join the system, it will turn its energy from activism to cynicism and lose momentum.

If those the Tea Party elects make a splash and take on the establishment, or symbolically seem to do so, the Tea Partiers will breathe easy, congratulate themselves on their victory and go back to non-political life.

If the new officials make few changes and Washington seems as bad as ever, many Tea Party enthusiasts will lose faith and give up on activism. More on this later.

The History of Conservative Populism

This series of events is cyclical, and the pattern has repeated itself many times. The Anti-Federalists, Whigs and Moral Majority all, in their day, fizzled out on this cycle.

Likewise, “constitutionalism” arose during the 1960’s, gained influence with publications and seminars in the 1970’s, and culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan.

After his inauguration, most constitutional organizations saw their donations and budgets halved—or worse—and many disappeared. The term “constitutionalist” lost it power—indeed, became a label for energetic irrelevance—and the nation moved on.

After Reagan, Rush Limbaugh increased in popularity and influence leading up to and throughout the Clinton years, and his radio show became the rallying point of conservative populism.

The press worried about the growing power of talk radio and both major political parties listened daily to Limbaugh’s commentary and strategized accordingly.

“Dittoheads” (Limbaugh fans) saw Clinton as the great enemy and rallied around elections, the Contract with America, and (between elections) Limbaugh’s show.

But with the election of Republican George W. Bush, Dittohead Nation congratulated itself on victory and mostly turned to non-political life. Today there is little excitement about or commentary on becoming a Dittohead.

It should be acknowledged that conservative populist movements have often added positive ideas to the national discussion and many of its leaders have helped raise awareness of freedom and promote citizen involvement.

In this sense, Anti-Federalists, Whigs, the Moral Majority, Constitutionalists, Dittoheads and the Tea Parties are not insignificant to American politics. They have had, and likely still will, huge impact.

Liberal vs. Conservative Populism

Note, in contrast [to conservative populism], that liberal populism typically follows a different path.

Movements such as Abolition, Feminism, Civil Rights and Environmentalism build and build until they are legislated. At that point, liberal populists get really serious and set out to expand legislation.

Not being saddled with trying to establish a negative, liberal populists don’t lose momentum like conservative populists—because the liberal objective isn’t to stop something but rather to achieve specific goals.

The challenge of conservative populism is that its proponents are, well, conservative. They see life as fundamentally a private affair of family, career and personal interests.

To the conservative, political activism is a frustrating, anomalous annoyance that shouldn’t be necessary—an annoyance that sometimes arises because of the actions of “bad” people abusing power.

The conservative soul idealizes being disengaged from political life; as a result, conservative populism is doomed to always playing defense.

The conservative will embrace politics when to continue to avoid politics poses a clear and present danger.

When conservatives engage politics in popular numbers, they do so in order to “fix things” so they can go back to not thinking about government.

The liberal soul, on the other hand, sees political life as a part of adulthood, natural to all people, and one of the highest expressions of self, society, community and the social order—not to mention a great deal of fun.

Many liberals greatly enjoy involvement in governance. The liberal yearns for participation in society, progress and politics.

They care about family and career as much as conservatives, of course, but many liberals consider involvement in politics to be at the same level of importance as family and work.

The Future of Tea & Independents

Tea Parties will likely grow and have impact for some years, but they are unlikely to become a long-term influence beyond Obama’s tenure.

In contrast, independents may well replace one of the major parties in the decades ahead.

Few independents are populists and are therefore not swayed by the political media or party politics. They watch Fox and MSNBC with equal skepticism, and prefer to do their own research on the detailed intricacies of the issues.

They generally distrust candidates and officials from all parties, believing that politics is a game of persuasion and spin.

Also: Independents really do stand for something. They want government to work. They want it to provide effective national security, good schools, responsible taxes and certain effective government programs.

Like conservatives, independents want government to spend less and stop trying to do too much. Like liberals, independents want government to tackle and fix our major challenges and where helpful to use effective government programs.

Independents want health care reformed, and they want it done in common-sense ways that really improve the system. They apply this same thinking to nearly all major issues.

Like many liberals, a lot of independents enjoy closely watching and participating in government. They take pleasure in activism and involvement. They prioritize political participation up there with family, career and personal interests.

All indications are that the Tea Parties are a short-term, albeit significant, movement, while the power of independents will be here for a long time ahead.

When the current political environment shifts and conservative populists lose their activist momentum, independents will still be studying the issues and making their views known.

In fact, a serious question now is whether the Republican and Democratic parties can both outlast the rise of independents. The answer is very likely “no.”

Click Here to Download a PDF of this Article

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Current Events &Government &History &Independents &Politics

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