RED STATE UPRISING: HOW TO TAKE BACK AMERICA
By Erick Erickson and Lewis K. Uhler
Regnery, $27.95, 200 pages
When Prime Minister Winston Churchill returned to No. 10 Downing St. after six years in the political wilderness (since the postwar Labor Party government had nationalized every British industry it could get its hands on), the icon was asked whether his newly formed Conservative government planned to undo the economic handiwork of the outgoing socialist regime.
Winnie reportedly responded by asking his questioner whether he had ever tried to unscramble an egg.
On this side of the pond in 2010, Erick Erickson and Lewis K. Uhler have presented what amounts to an American manifesto that is all about the political unscrambling of eggs.
"Red State Uprising: How to Take Back America" is unapologetic in making the case for the root-and-branch resistance of every big-government scheme that has embedded itself in American life for more than 100 years and leaves our grandchildren burdened with crushing debt.
In fact, this book traces the trend's infancy to Robert M. LaFollette Sr., who launched the so-called "progressive" movement in the late 19th century and eventually became governor of Wisconsin. The momentum subsequently accelerated under Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, and has risen to its ultimate crescendo under President Obama.
And it isn't just Democrats who kept this gravy-train mirage rolling. The LaFollettes (both father and son), Teddy Roosevelt and (in more modern times) George W. Bush, with his drug prescription program, performed their roles as well.
The authors have little use for RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). While they agree that it may not be smart to run a Jim DeMint (arguably the Senate's most conservative Republican) in Maine or Minnesota, there is no reason to tolerate a Lindsey Graham in South Carolina or a Charlie Crist in Florida.
The recipe for recovery is not for the fainthearted. "Big-government conservative?" No such animal, as Mr. Erickson and Mr. Uhler see it. It's an oxymoron. Even infrastructure, viewed by some small-government conservatives as a legitimate central government function right up there with national security and defense, gets little enthusiasm from these quarters.
Critics of the New Deal coined the term "creeping socialism." "Red State Uprising" deems today's creeping socialists as "earmarxists."
It's easy for self-described conservatives to be pro-life, pro-tax cuts and pro-troops. Mr. Erickson and Mr. Uhler write that the real acid test of conservatism is a belief in limited government. Earmarks - little porky nuggets slipped into legislation without authorization by the relevant congressional committees - are roundly condemned thusly: "Earmarks erode the ability to say no to more government, and they corrupt often-good politicians with the enjoyment and the power of directing other people's money to those who come to them and ask."
But there are other, more overarching issues.
Take the New Deal's most famous legacy: Social Security, the so-called "third rail" of politics, planned for that very political purpose by the Democrats who now hope for a repeat performance with Obamacare's socialized medicine. Once we all get hooked on an entitlement program and depend on it, any politician who even thinks of changing it will have hell to pay. Or so goes the conventional wisdom.
What the authors fear is that Americans have become so accustomed to hearing that cupboard-is-bare warning for so many decades that they've tuned it out. The problem, this book contends, is that the current economic slump foretells something more serious. No longer can it be said that such warnings amount to the proverbial cry of "wolf." This time, the "wolf" has actually arrived at the door.
Roughly 78 million baby boomers will be retiring in the next 15 years, and the burden will be unsustainable, said Mr. Erickson, editor of Redstate.com; and Mr. Uhler, founder and president of the National Tax Limitation Committee. At some point, the Chinese and other creditors will tire of shelling out the money to bail us out.
The left already has started dusting off its old demonization script, with talk of a "conspiracy" to take away Social Security and leave Grandma out in the snow. This conservative manifesto views such empathy by liberal elites as focused not on Grandma, but on their own privileged power. Alas, the Wizard of Oz is - well, a very bad wizard.
Without a well-thought-out strategy by the would-be reformers, AARP and the liberal politicians can again get away with their demagogue dance routine. Except this time we are likely to see an era of darkness if we don't face up to the reality, according to "Red State Uprising."
The authors cite the Chilean social security program as a model:
If an individual wants to keep the current Social Security regime, let him. If a citizen prefers greater control of his own social security, let him have it. Let recipients choose for themselves, and no using FICA/FUTA revenues for anything but Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid payments, respectively.
The writers would grant citizens their individual right to choose health care options outside the government, the option of listening to or viewing their favorite newscasts or talk-show hosts without any interference from the government (indeed, some have long questioned the usefulness of the Federal Communications Commission), the right to own a gun to defend oneself, the freedom to practice religion without government interference and the ability of the United States to grow economically outside of government mandates.
Oh, and about "choice": This book notes the only "choice" liberals allow is to decide whether to destroy the life of an unborn child.
Mr. Erickson and Mr. Ehler favor the right to "choose" how to educate your child, an end to mandates denying your choice to buy health care across state lines, the widespread availability of nuclear power and a program of "drill here, drill now," and the option of using the current 1040 tax regime or paying an alternative flat tax.
There surely is a "red state uprising" if polls mean anything. This is an ambitious 10-year program. The 2010 and 2012 elections may hold clues as to whether the "uprising" can be sustained that long or longer, if necessary.
Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.
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