Who Is Conservative?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

People think they’re rational, but we’re not. For example, on many issues, Trump’s positions are almost identical to Ronald Reagan’s. When it comes to abortion, trade, taxes, foreign policy and the military, and entitlements like Social Security, you can’t fit a dime between Reagan and Trump.

So why do people see Trump as far to the left of Reagan?

Contrasts and comparisons.

Reagan ran against George Bush and John B. Anderson. Also-rans included Howard Baker and Phil Crane, John Connally, Harold Stassen, Bob Dole, Larry Pressler, and Lowell Weicker. That made Reagan the most conservative Republican by a wide margin. George H. W. Bush was an eastern seaboard Rockefeller Republican in 1979 and 1980. Bush didn’t became a conservative until after he became Reagan’s VP. John B. Anderson never became a conservative. Anderson ran as an independent to try to throw the election to Jimmy Carter. Bill Kristol is a lot like John Anderson. And in four years, Kristol will be forgotten just like Anderson.

Conservative is relative. I know conservatives tend to believe there’s no such thing as relativity, but they’re wrong about that. Conservatism is relative. I won’t bother with defining left-right or liberal-conservative or any other dimensions of political thought. They’re meaningless. But I will point out that all of the definitions I’ve seen are relative. A position is conservative or liberal only relative to other positions.

Nowhere does the constitution mention “conservatism.” And the modern concept of conservatism didn’t really exist at the time of our founding. America’s founders were pretty much all radical liberals for their time. They believed in liberty, and they were willing to overthrow their government to get it. That’s very radical and very liberal.

I think modern conservatism seeks to conserve classical liberalism. But that’s just my opinion. You are entitled to be as mistaken as me.

But let’s play pretend for a moment that there is a conservative absolute. If there were, Ronald Reagan would be the only absolute conservative president in the lifetimes of anyone now alive, would he not? Everyone agrees.

So let’s see how Trump compares to Reagan on some key issues and themes, okay?

[table caption=”Trump vs. Reagan” colwidth=”20%|40%|40%”  colalign=”center|left|left”]
Theme,Make America Great Again,Let’s Make America Great Again
Trade, 45% tariff on unfair imports from China, 100% tariff on Japanese semi-conductors\, 45% tariff on Japanese motorcycles
Abortion, Opposes abortion except cases of rape\, incest\, or life of mother, Opposed abortion except to save the life of the mother

Social Security, Committed to preserving Social Security\, eliminate fraud and waste\, increase efficiency, “…ironclad commitment to Social Security”\, signed 1983 bill and encouraged every Republican to read it. “To be sure\, we must reform it\, root out the fraud\, make it more efficient\, and ensure that the program is solvent.”
Taxes, Cut taxes\, overhaul tax code\, flatten brackets, 25% tax cut early\, then overhaul tax system & reduce rates
Defense, Build a military so powerful no one will dare bother us\, avoid nation-building and open-ended wars of intervention, Rebuilt the military and launched SSD to break the Soviet Union without a war

Illegal Immigration, Build a wall\, deport illegal aliens, Granted amnesty to illegal aliens and reform immigration laws

Those are not the only issues, but they’re some of the leading issues of both Reagan and Trump. On some issues, Trump is slightly to Reagan’s left. On other issues, like illegal immigration, Trump is somewhat to Reagan’s right. Overall, there’s little difference between Reagan and Trump on many key issues.

Why does it feel like Trump is so far to Reagan’s left? Because memories are fluid. Memories are not fixed. They change over time.

When Reagan took office, we had very few conservative think tanks, few conservative magazines, and a handful of conservative pundits. Since then, conservatism has bloomed into an industry, Conservative, Inc. Tens of thousands of people make their living being conservative. That’s something new. And it’s made conservatism kind of weird. In fact, Conservative, Inc., has done for conservatism what the Civil Rights Industry has done for African-Americans.  That’s not a compliment to either corporation. Have you looked at African-American unemployment lately?

Plus, the internet came along after Reagan. The internet lets us all hide inside affinity bubbles–safe spaces where we can hide away from any ideas that we don’t agree with. In these affinity bubbles, we morph our memories to fit a narrative. We’ve made Reagan more “conservative” than he was. We’ve created Reagan in our own image and likeness.

That’s why so many Cruz fans lost their minds when Phyllis Schlafly endorsed Trump. A lot of Cruz supporters remember the Reagan years differently than they actually happened. That’s just the way the brain works.

I believe the Constitution, though flawed, provides the best government ever conceived for human flourishing. And I believe the best hope for Constitutional government lies in understanding how things really are and dealing with reality on reality’s terms. That’s why I formally endorsed Donald J. Trump for President.

If you can’t vote for Trump because he’s too liberal, you probably couldn’t have voted for Reagan, either. You just don’t remember.

And if you’re thinking about voting for Hillary or working against Trump, you’d probably cheat on your wife to punish your daughter for marrying a guy you don’t like.

It’s Time to Choose

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I am a mess.

I am a terrible father, a crappy husband (ask my ex-wives), and a difficult employee. I do a lot of things poorly. Most things, in fact. Especially the things I “have” to do. Authority irritates me.

While I’m terrible at following plans, I write a week’s worth of blogs on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The pattern keeps me sane. Or semi-sane. I supplement those when events warrant. Which isn’t very often.

And I’m irritated when it is.

I’m more irritated when I have to blog about being wrong. Or admitting I  pre-judged something. So I’m writing now with a lot of irritation coursing through my Irish veins, along with some whiskey. (Excuse the typos.)

An email received tonight threw me for a loop.

Phyllis Schlafly has been one of my heroes since . . . I can remember. I disagree with Mrs. Schlafly on exactly one issue, which will remain between us. Like William F. Buckley, Phyllis is a conservative touchstone to whom we can turn with confidence that she will point us in the right direction.

As someone who’s doubted Donald Trump’s conservative bonafides, I was shocked to read this:

Phyllis Schlafly, an icon of the conservative movement who has been active for half a century, is warning the nation: Donald Trump is the last hope for America.

Donald Trump donated lots of money to the Clintons. He said nice things about Barack Obama. He promoted socialized medicine. He built his real estate business with crony capitalism. And Phyllis Schlafly is endorsing him?

I can’t question Mrs. Schlafly’s judgment. So I have to ponder the message.

Trump is the “last hope for America.”

Last hope. Last hope. Last hope.

The phrase ricochets around my brain like a ping pong ball shot into a Pringles can. “Last hope.”

How screwed are we? 

My first real political moment was 1974 when Nixon resigned. Nixon was a rotten president who used the power of his office to destroy political opponents, take America off the gold standard, back out of Bretton Woods, and impose wage and price controls. The anti-conservative.

Yet Richard Nixon campaigned for Barry Goldwater at least as enthusiastically as Ronald Reagan did. As Patrick J. Buchanan recently wrote (and PJ was there):

Nixon pivoted swiftly to repair the damage, offered to introduce Goldwater to the convention, did so in a brilliant speech, then campaigned harder for Mr. Conservative than did Barry himself.

As a Gen X conservative, I like to throw Nixon under the bus. But Nixon and I had a remarkable correspondence in the late 1980s. The Dickster even sent me an autographed copy of In The Arena. He wasn’t all bad.

The true story of Nixon comes to mind as I read Mrs. Schlafly’s interview. I’m reminded of the other hero of Goldwater’s campaign: Ronald Reagan.

Most Americans were shocked to learn Reagan was a Republican in 1964. The insiders knew it, but the general population did not. Reagan was a lifelong union man and a Roosevelt fan. And a Hollywood actor. 

Even Republican insiders wondered whether Reagan’s Goldwater speech was sincere or theatrics. (I heard from a woman who was at the 1976 convention in Kansas City that Reagan lost the delegate fight to Gerald Ford because people doubted his party allegiance. He’d been a Democrat for so long.)

After four years of Jimmy Carter’s ineptitude, conservatives from three factions took a gamble. The foreign policy hawks, the fiscal conservatives, and the moral majority said, “Reagan is close enough.” The three factions pointed their spears at the Democrats, united behind Reagan, won 49-state landslides, defeated the Soviet Union, ended the Cold War, reduced the influence of government, and proved that one man could handle the job of Leader of the Free World.

Tonight we face another seminal moment in history. For all intents and purposes, the Republican primary is down to two men: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz is the Robert Taft of 2015. Cruz’s ideology is pure. He makes Reagan look like a squish. Cruz is brilliant. He sold our philosophy to the Supreme Court nine times. (Ted Olsen envies Cruz.)

If I alone chose the next president, I would choose Ted Cruz. 

But I don’t choose alone. I choose along with 320 million other Americans. I hope they choose Cruz–in their homes, in their congressional districts, in their states.

The Republican primary system is messy and difficult to measure. In some states, a primary winner gets all the state’s delegates. In other states, delegates are apportioned according to the relative distribution of votes. And in some states, like Missouri, delegates are awarded by US Congressional district results. If Ted Cruz wins the primary in MO CD2, he gets MO CD2’s delegates.

The point is, Bill Hennessy doesn’t choose the GOP nominee for president.  So I have to deal with the reality of politics.

And the reality is that Donald Trump connects with more voters than anyone alive right now. He does. Arguing otherwise is just stupid.

I have a lot of problems with Trump, not the least of which is that my wife and at least one of my sons hate him. Even writing this post risks a week  of sleeping on the couch. But I type on. I type on.

Phyllis Schlafly speaks for many millions of Americans when she says:

“He [Trump] does look like he’s the last hope [for America],” Schlafly said. “We don’t hear anybody saying what he’s saying. In fact, most of the people who ought to be lining up with him are attacking him. They’re probably jealous of the amount of press coverage he gets. But the reason he gets so much press coverage is the grassroots are fed up with people who are running things, and they do want a change. They do want people to stand up for America. It really resonates when he says he wants to ‘Make America Great Again.’”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/12/top-conservative-trump-is-last-hope-for-america/#5jojHqHHV1p6D1l2.99

I hate to think America is down to its last hope. I have two boys in the US Navy. I want them standing as guardians of freedom, not as warriors in a last battle for a dying republic. So this is personal.

I’m not quite ready to declare my allegiance to Donald Trump. I am totally prepared to declare my alienation from the Republican establishment. And if Trump is the only man who can destroy that tumor on American greatness, I will become a Trump man.

If Trump’s good enough for Phyllis Schlafly, well, maybe Trump is good enough for me.

I think we should reflect on the Reagan of 1976.

In America, there’s always a second chance.

Unless we’re down to our last hope. 

Choose wisely, voters. Choose wisely.



We All Need a Drink

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ever come across a text you know, but forgot?

I did recently. This gem of a paragraph leapt off the page and into my mind:

I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded — religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and patriot. It is our servant, beholden to us.

Ronald Reagan spoke those words on November 13, 1979, as he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Yes, that’s November–two months before Iowa and New Hampshire–not 12 months before.

The funny thing about great truths: they have staying power.

Who Will Serve That Drink?

But I wonder how many candidates for high office today hold such firm, self-evident, and transcendent beliefs. How many candidates hold a theory of government at all?

Let’s look at what Reagan believed America thirsted for in 1979:

  • Spiritual revival
  • Honor before political expediency
  • Government as protector of our liberties, not as grantor of gifts and privilege
  • Government upholding, not undermining, religion, education, and family
  • Government as our servant, beholden to us

I believe our nation still thirsts for those five sips of freedom.

Spiritual Thirst

We need a spiritual revival, and not just a religious revival. Our national spirits are low–as low as they were in 1979. Reagan’s announcement speech reminded me of the spirit of that age when he said:

Much of this talk has come from leaders who claim that our problems are too difficult to handle. We are supposed to meekly accept their failures as the most which humanly can be done. They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where — because of our past excesses — it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.

Doesn’t that sound like the defeatist nonsense we hear from Barack Obama every day? Our best days are behind us. We need to live like Bangladeshi squatters. We don’t deserve the marvels we invented and built.

Oh, Lord, give us a spiritual revival and shake us from our cowardly nap!

Political Honor

How about honor before political expediency? Couldn’t we use a little of that? In Jefferson City, some good Republicans (and I mean good ones) are prepared to accept the politically expedient Prescription Drug Monitoring bill over the honor (and loneliness) of remaining the last state to grant her citizens privacy in healthcare.

Political expediency rules the day in Washington, too, where Republicans have become champions of the Export-Import Bank. And a lot of Democrats who used to know better, too.

Protector of Liberty

And that leads us to our next great thirst, for a government that protects our liberties instead of passing out gifts and privilege. The Export-Import Bank is a grantor of gifts and privilege, I don’t care if Ronald Reagan anointed the building with sacred oils from Russell Kirk’s tobacco pipe.

The labor force is smaller than it has been since before Reagan announce his candidacy in 1979. People are not working, and this time, the government doesn’t want them to. How long can 92 million workers continue to support 230 million recipients?

Paying people to live like trinkets on a shelf is not compassion: it’s spiritual murder.

No wonder our spirits are low. And I’m not talking about the spirits of the workers; I’m talking about the low spirits of the idle. Meaningful work gives meaning to our lives. Every generation, when it’s young, feels angst and hopelessness. That’s because they’re not doing meaningful work yet.

Those young men and women in uniform all around the world and all around the states, they don’t have so much angst. They know they have a mission and a purpose. They know others benefit from their labor, and that’s exactly how they want it.

We need to help people feel a similar sense of mission and purpose in their lives. Every human being deserves to know the feeling of having done hard work well, but America is putting that fundamental, vital experience at risk in millions of lives.

In Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, Eric Greitens describes the destructive nature of idleness beautifully:

I believe it’s also true that without some sense of meaningful struggle in our lives, something inside us begins to break down, a part of us begins to die. Yet it’s amazing how adaptable human beings can be. When we are kept from doing hard and meaningful work (perhaps by living in a prison of idle comfort , by drinking to excess, or by spending endless hours in front of video games or the Internet), people still find ways to eke out an existence. In the long run , though, deprivation of purpose is as destructive as deprivation of sleep. Without purpose, we can survive— but we cannot flourish.

We need leaders of vision and purpose to fix that and fast.

Faith, Education, Family

And by fixing that government-coerced purposelessness, government will take a big step away from its evil (yes, I said “evil”) destruction of religion, education, and family.

The federal government is openly and wantonly hostile to every religion (with possibly one exception). It tells people of every major faith–every one–that their views are mere superstitions that deserve the scorn of the “enlightened” and the regulation of government.

The federal government seeks to regulate families and dictate what parents may teach their children.

And the federal government is working to destroy community and family schools, replacing them with a Common Core education developed largely by a billionaire whose previous adventures in education ended in unmitigated failure. (The man doesn’t know basic statistics. And then some.)

A Beholden Government

And all of these government-created problems and their natural, American solutions, can be summed up in Reagan’s last quest. When a government is our servant, it does our bidding. When we are government’s servant, government brings us down.

If your spirits are low–lower now than when you began reading–buck up. The belief Reagan shared after that litany of problems inspires today as it did the week after the Iranian Hostage Crisis began:

A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and — above all — responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.

I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.

Let 2016 be the election year we renew our spirit with a sip of life-giving water from the river Liberty and keep our rendezvous with destiny.


Why Ann Wagner Is Wrong to Attack Heritage Action

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Accountability? We don’t need no stinking accountability.

No, Ann Wagner didn’t actually say that. But her comments to a 2nd District Republican committee meeting on Tuesday gave at least one attendee the impression that Mrs. Wagner opposes the idea of conservatives holding Congress accountable.

Ann Wagner Attacks the Conservative Heritage Action

Rep. Ann Wagner accused the conservative Heritage Action for America of “pitting Republican against Republican” and “never attacking Dems” at the Republican meeting.

I’d like to remind Mrs. Wagner that Heritage Action keeps score on all members of Congress, not just Republicans. Also, the reason Heritage Action and its Sentinels focus their activism on Republicans is because we know the Democrats are a lost cause. Yelling at Democrats doesn’t do a damn thing. (I have direct experience on this. I co-founded an organization that did nothing but yell at Democrats from 2009 to 2012.)

We don’t pit Republicans against Republicans, Mrs. Wagner; we pit members of Congress against their own principles. We hold people accountable, not to our standards, but to the principles people like you campaigned on.

Heritage Action Advances the Policies of Reagan’s Favorite Think-Tank

While no single institution is the sole judge of what is conservative, the Heritage Foundation comes close. Heritage’s white papers were the foundation of the Reagan Revolution. Here are some examples:

With the arrival of the Reagan administration, the Heritage Foundation and other conservative foreign policy think tanks saw a political opportunity to significantly expand Carter’s Afghanistan policy into a more global “doctrine”, including U.S. support to anti-communist resistance movements in Soviet-allied nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. According to political analysts Thomas Bodenheimer and Robert Gould, “it was the Heritage Foundation that translated theory into concrete policy. Heritage targeted nine nations for rollback: Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Nicaragua, and Vietnam“.[5]

— Source: Wikipedia

And from Christian Science Monitor in 1984 writing about Heritage’s 1,100 page “Mandate for Leadership,” which was something like Reagan’s first administration blueprint:

Like a shadow government – but one with considerable clout – the conservative Heritage Foundation is at work throughout the Reagan administration. Its fingerprints can clearly be seen on the administration’s 1986 budget, now emerging from White House deliberations. And its access in recent days to top government officials, including Cabinet secretaries, has been unprecedented for a private organization.

Even the hardest of the hard left found Reagan’s policies looked like legislative or executive execution of Heritage policy papers:

Since the beginning of the Reagan Administration, the Heritage Foundation has had an incredible impact on Republican policies in America. The right-wing think tank founded by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors is largely to blame for the conservative state we find the country in today.

And, as Richard Amen wrote on We the People blog:

According to conservative writer William F.Buckley, Jr, Reagan acted upon approximately sixty percent of the three volumes of “Mandates” awaiting him when he took office which is why his Presidency was about sixty percent successful.

It’s safe to say that no other institution or think-tank exercised as much influence over the Reagan Administration as did Heritage. Now why wouldn’t Mrs. Wagner want to touch base with Reagan’s favorite think-tank? That’s exactly the service Heritage Action provides her.

Heritage Action launched in 2010 to help conservative legislators stay true to those first principles. Heritage realized that papers don’t change the world–actions do. But without a leader like Reagan to drive Heritage’s idea into law, its research and policy papers were just Saturday afternoon reading for conservative policy wonks.

Heritage Action’s purpose was to remind self-described conservatives in Washington that we don’t win when we don’t differentiate. And that call to differentiate seems precisely what disturbs Mrs. Wagner about Heritage Action.

Export-Import Bank Is a Silly Hill to Die On

Tell me how Mrs. Wagner differentiates herself from Democrats on Export-Import Bank? Wagner and Democrat Claire McCaskill read from identical talking point memos when they spoke to a St. Louis Public Radio reporter. They both threw out the same laughably false “facts” about Ex-Im and jobs, Ex-Im and “level playing fields.” Ann Wagner asking Heritage to attack Dems on Ex-Im is like a soldier calling for mortar fire on his own position.

Mrs. Wagner continued with some “facts,” like saying Ex-Im “is about 13,000 jobs in district. Jobs in this district. It’s not about Boeing.”

Oh really? Perhaps Mrs. Wagner would show us the research supporting her claim that Ex-Im created 13,000 jobs in her district. Because those would be the only 13,000 jobs Ex-Im created according to a Congressional Research Service report:

A Congressional Research Service report has confirmed that Ex-Im shifts jobs; it does not create them: “Economists generally maintain… that subsidizing export financing does not add to the overall level of economic activity, and subsidizes foreign consumption at the expense of the domestic economy. [Therefore], promoting exports through subsidized financing…will not permanently raise the level of employment in the economy, but alters the composition of employment among various sectors… and performs poorly as a jobs creation mechanism.”

Wagner is also wrong when she tells people, “This is about leveling the playing field in the International arena, and I will always fight for jobs in the district.” Less and 1/3 of Ex-Im’s loans involve competing subsidies from foreign governments. And the largest recipient of Ex-Im loans, Boeing, has stated it doesn’t need Ex-Im.

As I pointed out in an earlier post on the matter, Ex-Im is not a huge program. It is not the worst example of corporate welfare and government interference in free markets. Instead, Ex-Im is an easy win for principled conservatives. A no-brainer that requires no action. It will just go away.

By defending Ex-Im, Mrs. Wagner has telegraphed how she will handle tougher corporate welfare issues. She will always back corporate welfare queens because they will always cry “jobs.” No facts, just slogans. And this is why I am voting for Bill Slantz for Congress on November 4.

I just don’t understand why Mrs. Wagner would choose the Ex-Im hill to die on?

Hey, Kettle: The Pot Is Calling

What’s more disheartening than the made-up facts was Mrs. Wagner’s silly attack on Heritage Action’s motives. Mrs. Wagner told the audience, which included some Heritage donors and Sentinels, “Heritage is just trying to raise money for itself.”


PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTION: A psychoanalytical theory, projection is the process whereby one subject believes they see attributes (both good and bad) in another. The theory views this tendency as a defense mechanism whereby unenviable or unpleasant traits, impulses or ideas are attributed to another. In this way, the projector is able to avoid the unpleasantness in themselves.

— Source: PROJECTION from Psychological Dictionary


Psychologists call it projection. In South St. Louis it was simply  “the pot calling the kettle black”.

Mrs. Wagner is one of the best-funded people in the House. She’s raised nearly $2 million in the current cycle despite running unopposed in her primary.

Here’s Ann Wagner’s fundraising vs. the House average:

Ann Wagner raises well more than the House average, yet she accuses a grassroots activist of taking positions for money. Source: OpenSecrets.org

Money doesn’t fall into a politician’s lap. She has to work for that money. And she does. Ann Wagner is known as one of the hardest working fundraisers in town. This one and Washington.

While Heritage Action does accept donations, fundraising is not high on its activity list. Accountability is. On that point, Mrs. Wagner seems as ill-informed as she is on the proper role of government and on the “conservative-ness” of the Export-Import Bank.

I realize that Mrs. Wagner has to defend her positions against critics like me. I wish she should do it without the use of fabricated “facts” and psychological projection.

And that, my friend, is why I am not voting for Ann Wagner this time around.


Note: This post has been updated. Poor writing in the earlier version seemed to diminish Ronald Reagan’s presidency. My apologies. It was totally just crappy writing and did not reflect my views. —wth

Video: Ronald Reagan Wants the Transportation Empowerment Act

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Want to fix Missouri’s roads and cut taxes at the same time? Well, two American conservative icons showed us the way almost 50 years ago.

The Establishment likes to attack grassroots conservatives by claiming Reagan would have opposed the Tea Party. They’re wrong, of course, and the Transportation Empowerment Act tells us why.

In 1967, shortly after Ronald Reagan became governor of California, William F. Buckley Jr. asked Governor Reagan if was even possible to be an effective governor.

“What’s meant by that,” Buckley went on:

Are we now so dependent on the federal government that the individual state is left without the scope to make its own crucial decisions? Isn’t the individual state in the matter of taxation required to make do with what amounts to the leftovers?

Reagan’s reply told the whole story:

The TEA would keep gasoline taxes in the state where they’re generated. So all the taxes you pay at the pump here in Missouri would stay in Missouri for the Missouri governor and legislature to allocate.

The Transportation Empowerment Act

Here’s how it works according to the bill’s architect, Congressman Tom Graves:

How it Works

  • Transfers almost all authority over federal highway and transit programs to the states over a five-year period.
  • Lowers the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents from 18.4 cents over the same time period.
  • During the five-year phase out, states will receive block grants that come with vastly fewer federal strings attached.

What It Does

  • Immediately reduces the bureaucratic burden involved in the construction of critical transportation projects.
  • Results in a faster administrative response to the transportation problems Americans face, such as traffic, commuting, and access.
  • Gives states greater flexibility in their tax structure.
  • Connects where people want to work with where they want to live.
  • Opens opportunities to develop new mass-transit solutions, innovate environmental protections, and improve the financing of projects.
  • Creates jobs and grows the economy.

Where Do Missouri’s Republicans Stand on TEA?

So far, the only Missouri member of Congress to sign onto the TEA Bill is Rep. Billy Long (HA-78%). That means we need to work on Ann Wagner (HA-63%), Jason Smith (HA-74%), Vicky Hartzler (HA-64%), and Sam Graves (HA-65%). (Leutkemeyer[HA-57%] is a lost cause, so I won’t ask anyone to waste their time.)

Heritage Action has key voted the Transportation Empowerment Act, meaning that all members of Congress will be judged by their performance on the bill. Because Establishment Republicans love Washington power, how our delegation handles the TEA Bill will tell us a lot about their commitment to Reagan-Buckley conservatism.

Call or visit Rep. Ann Wagner’s Ballwin office and ask her to co-sponsor HR-3486, the Transportation Empowerment Act.

Ballwin District Office

301 Sovereign Court
Suite 201
BallwinMO 63011

hours: M-F 9-5:00pm

Phone: (636) 779-5449

“People want to spend less time in traffic and more time enjoying life. Our bill does away with the Washington middleman and streamlines the highway program, allowing more projects to be completed at a lower cost. This approach paves the way for commuters to move more easily between home and work, freeing up important family time and cutting out hours of frustration behind the wheel.” – Congressman Tom Graves

Sound a lot like Reagan, doesn’t it?

Why GOP Pandering to Young Voters Backfires

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Marco Rubio gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address for two reasons.

First, Rubio’s Cuban, and the GOP wants to court Latinos.

Second, Rubio’s relatively young, and the GOP wants to stop the bleeding when it comes to young voters.

But there’s a fundamental problem with the Republican approach, and it stems from the GOP’s least favorite discipline: behavioral science.

Young People Are Naturally Skeptical

You hear about scams that target older folks all the time. If you’re like me, you’re tempted to blame it on media sensationalism. After all, ripping off a retiree on Social Security pisses us off a lot more than stories of scamming a 24-year-old single guy.

But 80 percent of scam victims are over 65. It’s not sensationalism by the media to drive up ratings. And it’s not senility. It’s the human brain and aging.


In a study, researchers found that older people are far less able to detect a scammer than younger people are. Follow-up investigations using functional MRIs that watch the brain while it’s working revealed that a part of the brain that signals danger declines as we age.

From “Why Old People Get Scammed” in Science Magazine:

In the study, appearing online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the“untrustworthy” faces were perceived as significantly more trustworthy by the older subjects than by the younger ones. The researchers then performed the same test on a different set of volunteers, this time imaging their brains during the process, to look for differences in brain activity between the age groups. In the younger subjects, when asked to judge whether the faces were trustworthy, the anterior insula became active; the activity increased at the sight of an untrustworthy face. The older people, however, showed little or no activation.

Aging depresses our bullshit detectors. And the Republicans better come to grips, because their message isn’t selling among people with strong BS detectors—people under 30. Like it or not, they are tomorrow’s voter.

Pandering might work with the elderly, but it becomes less effective as you move down the age scale.

Young People Are Cynical Idealists

Instead of pandering with Marco Rubio and amnesty, why not take John Mackey’s advice? That advice is simple: find your purpose.

Mackey is the co-founder of Whole Foods Markets. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian equally uncomfortable with the big brother government as with crony capitalism. His employees are young and cynical, but at the same time visionary and idealistic.

Mackey offers five big questions to help organizations their purpose:

  • Why do we exist?
  • Why do we need to exist?
  • What is the contribution we want to make?
  • Why is the world better because we are here?
  • Would we be missed if we disappeared?

Republicans should focus on that last question: would we be missed if we disappeared? They should ask people under 30 who call themselves fiscal conservatives, “would you miss the GOP if it disappeared tomorrow?”

More and more, the answer in my head is “not really.” (Frankly, I have almost the same response when applying the question to the tea party movement, and we need to fix that, too, or stop existing.)

If the Republican Party doesn’t provide a viable alternative to planned economies and regulated lives, another party will fill the void.

Let’s be honest: America and the ideals of liberty and free market capitalism need a vibrant, purposeful political engine more than they need a network of grassroots activists. And nature abhors a vacuum.

Imitating Reagan Isn’t Enough

Cynical idealists respond to people who demonstrate a clear sense of purpose and a commitment to making life better. Young people flocked to Reagan (as compared to many other Republican candidates), both as governor of California and as President of the United States. They may not have agreed with him, but they recognized a shared worldview: trust, but verified.

Trying to recreate the Reagan Era is as futile and counterproductive as trying to rebuild the Berlin Wall. But we can learn something from Regan’s vision.

Reagan simultaneously cast a jaundiced eye on our institutions and systems while maintaining in his mind’s eye the shining city on the hill. He was a cynical idealist, and it worked. The cynical idealist made the world better – for a time.

Science confirms that saying the right things but doing the politically expedient might endear you to the oldest voters, but it makes the youngest puke.

As long as the GOP believes pandering to the young will cure its problems, more and more people will come to realize we wouldn’t really miss the party if it disappears tomorrow.

Update: Rush Limbaugh agrees

Mackey, John; Sisodia, Rajendra (2012-12-25). Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (Kindle Locations 886-887). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.