Photo courtesy of Tony Alter / Flickr

How to Kill a Fiscal Conservative in 140 Characters

I do not identify as a Democrat or Republican. Partisan politics frustrate and disappoint me. Forgive me for my 1796 era stubbornness.

If I had to categorize my political bias, I would opt for the structure Mike Pence often uses to describe himself. I am an American, an Ideologue, and an Idealist, in that order.

I issue that preamble for the following reasons: Firstly, I aim for my criticism not to be delivered with partisan bias, but rather with evenhanded disappointment. Secondly, in an era of journalism so tarnished by condescending thought, I expect from readers the best of humanity and intellectual capability, and do not view them with malice.

There are several definitions of fiscal conservative, some of which make up paragraphs, others only a word. Generally speaking, to be a fiscal conservative means to abide by three core ideas: low taxes, low government spending, and a low national debt. For the last nine years, notable fiscal conservatives, such as Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Marco Rubio, have touted their cocktail of economic deregulation and free trade in staunch criticism of former President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

Their argument was a simple one. That, in an attempt to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, President Obama’s use of Keynesian policies increased the government’s role in the private sector, which drastically expanded the national debt and unbalanced the budget. In more general terms, President Obama, through the use of bailouts and the Dodd-Frank Act, put the government in a position where it should not be.

During the Obama Administration, fiscal conservatives consistently reminded the President of their policy disagreements. These reminders, one of which came in the form of a sixteen-day government shutdown in October of 2013, serve as evidence that fiscal conservatives are ardent ideologues. The economic philosophies of fiscal conservatives date back to 1776 when Adam Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Such economic ideals have certainly endured the test of time.

Perhaps, however, we should not test ideologies based on their ability to endure large swathes of time and space. Rather, it may be more adequate to test their abilities to withstand 140 characters of scathing review.

The noise and confusion that denotes President Trump’s first two weeks in office has debilitated the political climate of the United States. American citizens hear several calls: for the construction of a border wall, the gutting of the Affordable Care Act, and the implementation of a large-scale infrastructure project. Our President takes to Twitter to ridicule and harass any and all who disagree with him. Many politicians have been whipped into line by the occasional 3 a.m. social media post. Yet, in all of this noise and disorder, one voice is seemingly missing: that of the fiscal conservative.

It seems odd that for each of those three projects of the Trump administration, all of which have negative budgetary implications, no one has stood up from the fiscally conservative wing of the Republican Party and offered their disapproval. Where is the Paul Ryan that used to remind President Obama of the size of the deficit every time he took to the podium?

It seems that the fear of Donald Trump’s Twitter account has made notable fiscal conservatives submissive in this 115th Congress. The same trend is apparent with businesses as well. Billionaires, like Elon Musk, have laid down ideology for fear of one bad tweet. For fiscal conservatives in Congress, the fear of losing reelection lingers.

The hypocrisy of men like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Marco Rubio, who have yet to protest policies that increase government spending (an infrastructure plan and the border wall) and decrease government revenue (repealing the Affordable Care Act), is disappointing.

Now, a little bit of pragmatism is necessary to keep a government running. Senators, Congressmen, and Congresswomen all need to worry about public opinion and reelection when they go about their daily activities. However, when selfish pragmatism kills your core beliefs, are you really serving your country?

Comments