In politics, is having lots of ideas a good thing or a bad thing?
The answer depends on your ideological predilection and to some extent, your party affiliation. Liberty-loving conservatives (loosely identified as Republicans), for example, don’t care much for pols who claim they’re planning to “transform” the country that gave them their start and nurtured them with opportunities from their first breath until the current moment.
Similarly, people who prefer limited government aren’t wild about half-century experienced swamp dwellers pontificating about “restoring the soul of the nation” (often heard in Democrat circles) during their campaigns. Such boasts are airy and substance-free because everyone knows the People are sovereign in the United States. These platitudes aren’t ideas; they’re slogans.
Conservatives prefer government to confine itself to the tightly defined boundaries outlined in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Based on decades of observation, we know elected leaders have too many “ideas” that sound like trouble, because they’ll invariably use power to implement theories regardless of legality or the public’s desire to accept the premises for them.
So when Fox News commentator Juan Williams wrote earlier this week that the GOP is “without ideas”, should conservatives and Republicans protest the notion? Williams wrote at The Hill:
“The problem is that Trump addled much of the GOP base with conspiracy theories and bullying rhetoric to the point where the party can’t move past him and join the debate over ideas necessary to contribute to a productive national dialogue.
“This is a concern for all Americans. Our country needs two healthy political parties providing competition and balance to one another so the voters can make an informed choice.
“Potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates are taking note and picking sides. ‘We need to acknowledge he let us down,’ Trump’s former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley recently told Politico. ‘He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.’”
Hmmm… Donald Trump has been out of office for over a month now and liberals still name-drop him to draw eyeballs. Where would they be without Trump to kick and demonize?
As expected, Williams uses a political lightweight like Nikki Haley as an example of a Republican who gets it because she performed the incredibly brave (not!) service of running to liberal establishment-rag Politico to cast a proverbial dagger into what she and all ruling class Republicans gather is the lifeless corpse of Donald Trump’s political career. This is one GOP “idea” that Juan appears to accept and defend.
Haley and those of her mindset don’t offer “ideas” that haven’t been heard many times before. #NeverTrumpers cautioned about Trump since the beginning. Most people forgot it long ago, but Nikki publicly endorsed Marco Rubio -- a.k.a., the establishment choice -- over the fading Jeb! Bush in the 2016 South Carolina Republican primary (when she was still governor of the Palmetto State). Haley’s word didn’t carry much weight then and it doesn’t now either.
Equally predictable was Williams’ insistence on dredging up the China virus and healthcare as other areas where Republicans supposedly lack creativity and value in the idea category. But is it true? President Trump and conservatives had plenty of thoughts on how to handle the tragically inflated COVID-19 scare, including Operation Warp Speed, which produced a vaccine that promises to deliver us all from the grips of Dr. Anthony Fauci and his misguided pandemic advice.
Fauci got us all wearing what my father calls “face diapers”. Discarded masks are starting to turn up in rivers and streams -- and the ocean -- a form of pollution that must be rankling the most ardent of environmentalist wackos (thank you, Rush Limbaugh!), but the kooks wouldn’t dare say anything lest they get the blue state lobby in trouble. Democrats are exempt from the harmful consequences of their “ideas”. Masks are “patriotic”, remember?
Liberals love doing inane stuff like banning plastic drink straws but where are they on this burgeoning global littering problem? What are their “ideas” to deal with it?
Getting back to the GOP’s alleged dearth of ideas, Williams is flat-out wrong on his argument. Conservatives and Republicans have a truckload of proposals on how to address problems (real and perceived), yet sometimes the remedies involve letting the people themselves use their own God-given common sense to disentangle dilemmas, and in other cases, modestly allow the private economy to adjust to shortages through the laws of supply and demand.
If those aren’t “ideas”, then why did we spend years in high school and college studying them?
Trump’s “idea” to battle the horrible effects of pandemic shutdowns was to open up the economy, following the lead of red state governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis. The Sunshine State conservative respected the “science” to safeguard the most vulnerable while keeping schools operating and encouraging citizens and business owners to act responsibly. If this isn’t an “idea”, Juan, I’m not sure what qualifies.
Trump and Republicans also presented solid alternatives to the Democrats’ obsession with nationalized healthcare, but they simply weren’t heard. How about making it possible for consumers to shop for health insurance across state lines? Or mandating that healthcare providers list the actual prices for services or procedures so people can see how much care actually costs and make informed choices? Or eliminating duplicative tests? The list goes on and on.
“Make America Great Again” encapsulated Donald Trump’s ideas and allowed the outsider to build a movement that even today dominates the Republican Party. Conservatives and the “forgotten” Americans believed that our country had been in decline since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, crushed under the weight of a Washington establishment (of both parties) that willfully lost touch with the concerns of average people. The elites’ “ideas” didn’t work. The country was in debt, the culture eroding rapidly and America’s standing overseas was weaker than it ever was.
Trump’s “idea” was not to commit America to any new foreign wars. And he stuck to it.
In contrast, Democrats like Williams believe they have “ideas” for everything, including so-called “climate change”. They fan the flames of fear in people who, deficient in proper educational foundation to understand the issues, gravitate to liberal politicians with “ideas” on fixing something that isn’t even broken. It’s a classic example of how having an idea for a government-based repair isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Take your ideas and dump them in the round file, Juan!
Ronald Reagan said it best: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'” In today’s terminology, it should be “I’m here from the government and I have an idea.” No more “ideas”, please!