There is a process of gradual, peaceful development that occurs in nearly all social or economic structures or institutions known as evolution, and as a motion it is incomplete in itself, but when combined with coordinated motions produces a single action over time. Unless a society is isolated from outside influence and new ideas, changing sensibilities eventually contribute to a culture’s evolution over time and has contributed to both good and bad results. Conservatism, by its nature, is resistant to change and because conservatives’ deep-seated ideological beliefs are cemented in stone, they have serious issues adjusting to societal evolution. Unfortunately for America, conservatives have rejected the idea of the country’s progress into the 21st century and by their own admission, Republicans are devolving and attempting to drag the entire society backwards.
The announcement Thursday that South Carolina Senator and teabag hero, Jim DeMint, was resigning his Senate seat to take the reins at the Heritage Foundation was another bit of evidence that the American conservative movement is devolving into libertarianism. DeMint’s resignation was good news for the Senate and the country because, as a legislator, his mission over the past four years was obstructionism for the sake of hindering President Obama. Indeed, DeMint himself evolved over the course of a year into a Koch acolyte intent on crippling the government, destroying social programs, and government’s ability to protect the people. It is safe to say DeMint never met a social safety net he didn’t hate, or a tax cut for the rich he didn’t love, but it was the Affordable Care Act that brought out the monster in DeMint the Senate and country can do without.
DeMint’s hatred of the President’s healthcare law is legend, but in 2007, he had an entirely different opinion when he supported Willard Romney’s candidacy for the presidency, and he cited the Massachusetts healthcare law as a crucial reason for his endorsement. The Affordable Care Act is modeled on the Massachusetts’ law, and Romney praised the Heritage Foundation for its valuable guidance labeling them “a quintessentially conservative group that recognized the principles of free enterprise and personal responsibility were at work” in devising the Massachusetts health law. Romney was proud of the individual mandate and healthcare exchanges devised by Heritage’s health-care expert, Stuart Butler, who argued that, “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.” The Heritage plan was the Republican alternative to President Clinton’s health reform bill in 1993.
The 180-degree shift from DeMint and the Heritage Foundation from fierce advocates for an individual mandate and insurance exchanges to Heritage’s claims the President’s health law was “intolerable,” ”unprecedented and unconstitutional” and a “growing government control over healthcare” was a maneuver to inflame the public that President Obama was imposing socialism on the nation. Just two short years earlier, Heritage heaped praise on the Massachusetts health law as an “innovative mechanism to promote real consumer choice,” “reduce the total cost to taxpayers,” and “clearly consistent with conservative values.” Conservative’s values are historically never-changing, but the outrage and opposition to the President’s healthcare reform was the impetus to change conservatism into Koch-inspired libertarianism.
The new conservatism advocates for the Koch brothers “free market solutions to the nation’s problems” which is code for no regulatory agencies and tax-free status for big business, and integral to their goal is privatizing government whether it is the National Park system, highways, or Social Security and Medicare, and in order to garner electoral support for enacting their agenda, they have to convince the public they are wrong to believe government plays an important role in their lives. DeMint said that was his reason for quitting the Senate and moving to Heritage; “After this last election it’s apparent that we need to do more as conservatives to convince Americans that our ideas and our policies will make their lives better. I can do that better at Heritage.” Heritage communications director Dan Holler said, “Republicans were reelected in the House to stop Pres. Obama’s agenda, not figure out creative ways to fund it” in assailing Speaker Boehner’s pathetic proposal to avoid the impending fiscal cliff, and the conservative’s main objection to Boehner’s counter offer was that it was not exclusively spending cuts.
President Obama won re-election because the people felt he was looking out for their best interests, and because Republicans campaigned on protecting the wealthy and corporations with tax cuts and deregulation. DeMint is certain that at the Heritage Foundation he “can do more good for the conservative movement outside of the Senate in leveraging the assets of The Heritage Foundation to communicate a more positive, optimistic message to the American people,” and that the “problem is, as conservatives, we have not taken enough control of our message and our ideas and communicated them directly to the American people.” DeMint is wrong. Republicans did communicate their message and ideas to the American people and they rejected them in favor of the President. Republicans’ message was that minorities, the poor, students, Veterans, and the elderly are a drain on the country and that government’s role is co-opting Wall Street and corporations at the expense of 98% of the population.
According to Judge Napolitano, hardline conservatives love DeMint because “he is a real Republican and conservatives don’t want middle of the road compromisers, and because he will bring the libertarians back in the Republican Party. Jim DeMint is a classic, traditional, conservative Republican, none of this George Bush compassionate conservative mealy-mouth stuff. He really believes the individual is greater than the state, and that the government should shrink.” Sheer, unadulterated libertarianism promoted by the Koch brothers, and now the Heritage Foundation. Heritage is the policy driver of the Republican Party and they have devolved into the message machine to convince Americans that “free market solutions to the nation’s problems” will benefit their personal lives. It is doubtful many Americans will appreciate a government that exists solely to serve big business, but that is where the Republicans are heading as they abandoned any pretext of government for the people.
DeMint is a perfect fit for the libertarian Heritage Foundation, but he may discover the people will not embrace their vision for a privatized government or corporations run wild, and make no mistake, that is the libertarian vision for America. This country is better for having Jim DeMint out of the Senate for myriad reasons, but it is troubling that he will lead the Heritage Foundation and their $80 million budget to direct Republican policies that were regressive enough in 2012, and will only get worse in 2013 as they embrace Kochism, and work to destroy worker rights, civil rights, consumer protections, and environmental laws DeMint will attempt convince Americans is an the optimistic message.