There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
The problem the Republican Party has, too many people are sitting around, waiting for a wave to take them across the election. If you want a wave, you have to paddle.
— Michael Needham, CEO, Heritage Action for America
Catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world.
— The Beach Boys
If most people are not willing to see the difficulty, this is mainly because, consciously or unconsciously, they assume that it will be they who will settle these questions for the others, and because they are convinced of their own capacity to do this.
— Friedrich August von Hayek
Ann Wagner Yanked Missouri’s 2nd District to the Left
The numbers are stunning.
Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District is one of the most conservative in the state. The seat held by Jim Talent and Todd Akin has long aligned with Heritage Foundation’s principled conservatism.
By replacing Todd Akin with Ann Wagner, 2nd District voters lurched the state hard to the left. How far left? Twenty-three percentage points left.
[caption id=“attachment_15424” align=“aligncenter” width=“653”] Source: Heritage Action for America[/caption]
When the 112th Congress ended, Todd Akin sat at 82 percent on Heritage Action’s Scorecard. Right now, Ann Wagner’s score is 58. That’s below the Republican House average, and it’s miles beneath her district’s philosophical center.
Mrs. Wagner’s HA score would be respectable in certain districts in Maine, Michigan, or California. In Missouri’s 2nd, they’re disgraceful. I realize that Todd Akin was a liability for many reasons. But his consistent principled conservative voting wasn’t one of them. We might not want Akin back, but I would sure like a US Representative who will catch the wave instead of going with the elitist flow.
Export-Import Bank Was a Defining Issue
While Mrs. Wagner is reliably pro-life and an ardent defender of the 2nd Amendment, her philosophy of government is anything but Hayekian. Mrs. Wagner announced loud and clear her loud support for Export-Import Bank. I trust Mrs. Wagner to represent my views on several issues, most especially the paradoxical combination mentioned above: life and guns. I suppose she will agree with me on the First Amendment, as well. Beyond those three admittedly crucial issues, I suspect Mrs. Wagner represents the ruling class against the rest of us.
Export-Import Bank is particularly telling. First, because it is so small an issue, it would seem the easiest and least consequential for even a play-acting conservative to adopt the conservative line. The two companies that receive the lion’s share of Ex-Im largesse–Boeing and GE–would survive just as well without it. Boeing has stated such. Second, because Ex-Im is such an unmistakable symbol of anti-freedom, supporting the bank defines the person.
Ex-Im Bank Is Anti-Freedom
Hayek defined freedom as “the state in which man is not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will of another or others.” The Export-Import Bank exemplifies the condition opposite freedom: the state of currying favor of a bureaucrat. The bank chooses among competing companies those that will succeed and those that will fail. Companies wishing the advantage of this bureaucratic coercion grovel at the feet of government functionaries. Or give money to Congressmen. Companies that choose not to grovel put themselves in an economic disadvantage, sometimes ruining their business.
Grovelling before one’s master is hardly an act of freedom. It’s an act of slavery, and Ann Wagner wants to perpetuate that slavery.
While Mrs. Wagner and the US Chamber of Commerce like to point to specific companies that have thrived thanks to corporate welfare, they forget to mention those “successful” companies’ competitors who “failed” because government made the playing field uneven.
Because Export-Import Bank represents an opportunity for politicians to clearly state their political philosophy, we must accept Mrs. Wagner’s position as indicative of her philosophy. I now accept that Mrs. Wagner and I fundamentally disagree on what constitutes a just government. Fundamentally, not superficially. In other words,** the kind of government Mrs. Wagner supports is the kind of government I want to erase.**
Philosophy of Government Is an Organizing Principle of the Tea Party Movement
The two establishment parties have no central, organizing principle regarding a philosophy of government. Parties exist solely to maximize their own power through elections. We discern their philosophy by their actions, not their platforms. The GOP’s actions on Ex-Im and many other issues prove the party believes in government by a ruling elite.
It’s one thing to vote for Ex-Im out of fear. It’s another thing to publicly advance the idea that government should replace free markets. Mrs. Wagner is on the side of government and government-sanctioned corporations.
Because free markets is an organizing principle of a movement I had a hand in launching, I cannot vote for Ann Wagner until she demonstrates a free market bias.
Ann Wagner and the GOP Elite Missed a Huge Opportunity with Ex-Im
On a practical level, I’m a little shocked that Mrs. Wagner and the House Republican leadership passed this golden opportunity. That missed opportunity was best described by Dan Holler of Heritage Action in an LA Times article:
“They had a chance to have a federal agency expire right before an election and go back home and campaign that they ended corporate welfare,” he said.
I thought Mrs. Wagner and the GOP elite were, at least, opportunistic. The Ex-Im sell-out tells me they’re not. Instead, their winging it. With neither a philosophical core or a practical plan, Washington Republicans are simply selling out to the highest bidder. And that’s usually the US Chamber of Commerce.
On the other hand, that gives me some hope. Ann Wagner would be very difficult to defeat in either a primary or a general election. But we might be able to change her behavior on issues like Ex-Im. To do that, we need leverage.
We don’t have Boeing’s government-funded billions to throw around. We have our votes. If movement conservatives in the 2nd District vote Libertarian in November, or skip the US House vote altogether, we might be able to hold Wagner in the 50s. That would be a big step backwards from 2012 margin of 60-37.
A step back will put Wagner in a tough position for 2016. Democrats will be encouraged to take the race more seriously. Libertarians could also target the district. Wagner’s only choice would be to move to the right to solidify her base.
In other words, the only way to save Ann Wagner might be to vote against her this November.
My First non-Republican Vote for Congress. Ever.
In my post last week, I offered Mrs. Wagner the opportunity to reply. She has not. Therefore, we have to assume Mrs. Wagner agrees with my assertions, accepts my facts, and feels so strongly in her (non-)philosophy of government that she simply has moved on. Fine. That’s her prerogative.
I have a prerogative, too. And I choose to exercise my prerogative by stating that** I will not vote for Mrs. Wagner’s re-election** in 2014. I cannot vote for a person whose philosophy of government I find morally reprehensible and unjust.
I won’t vote for the Democrat in the race for precisely the same reason.
That leaves me two choices: skip that race on my ballot, or vote for Bill Slantz, the Libertarian Party candidate. I’ll work on that decision and let you know how it comes out, but, one way or the other, I’m swimming out to catch the wave.
In the meantime, I hope you will consider whether you can vote for a member of Congress who advances a philosophy of government that, in 1776, we utterly and formally rejected.