Stuffier Republicans lament that their team did some sacrilegious booing, hooting, and objecting during President Biden’s State of the Union speech last week, as if government warrants decorum. What the Republican Party should instead be embarrassed about is how much disgruntled objection-noise their members of Congress made when Biden dared to say Republicans would like to shrink Social Security and Medicare.
I would’ve hoped they want that, but apparently Republicans object as loudly to talk of government-shrinking as do Democrats and other socialists. They regard it as a vicious smear to be called budget-cutters. It’s audible evidence that instead of two major parties there’s effectively one statist, big-government mob with two slightly-different factions. To hell with both, along with any purported anarchists or libertarians who still lean toward either. Your patience with all of these idiot factions should by now be exhausted. Politics has failed, and humanity should stop engaging in it.
As Reason’s Matt Welch wrote after the speech, it wasn’t tough for Biden to “steal” nationalist-conservative or populist talking points, as some alleged he cleverly had, when left, right, and populist politicians have all praised Social Security, deficit spending, and regulated trade for decades. There just isn’t that much on which the major political factions differ.
Luckily, though, the collegial parasitic criminals in charge occasionally stumble inadvertently into a potential solution, so there’s something to be said for the sleep-walking indifference with which the U.S. government is nearing automatic across-the-board federal budget cuts of about 85 percent—if the debt ceiling isn’t raised and the government, already over $30 trillion in the hole, isn’t allowed to borrow more.
We’re more likely to get some small relief from the federal leviathan that way than by waiting several more decades for politicians to become thoughtful and honorable. Sen. Mitt Romney’s book Reckoning, out in time for Halloween 2023, will reportedly reveal his worries that he’s contributed to his party's slide into authoritarianism. He certainly has, but not in the way he thinks. Almost the opposite, in fact.
The problem isn’t that he was too complacent in the rise of radicalism but rather that there’s always a centrist-sounding politician like him on hand, chummy with media and proud of “working with people on both sides of the aisle,” ready to frown at any potential policy changes of significance and slather humanitarian-sounding words of praise on all the same money-wasting garbage programs, from the military to welfare, in which Washington has been burying America for a century.
In the unlikely event that serious talk bubbles up again about Romney as a potential crossover favorite as a 2024 presidential candidate (as if the left and center didn’t prove their hatred of him conclusively enough in 2012), the right should remember Romney likes not only war but minimum wage laws, transportation mask mandates (he was the only Republican to vote for keeping them), and keeping spending at current catastrophic levels because, with his minimal grasp of economics, he frets that cutting government spending exacerbates economic downturns.
No, Mitt, you arrogant, irresponsible jackass, government spending is the economic downturn. Choose someone else, GOP. Or just walk away from politics.
And as is typically the case with politicians praised by media and the establishment as “responsible” centrists, Romney’s so hungry for military conflict that he wanted immediate war with Iran when he ran last time. Some critics of Biden rightly foresaw we’d “somehow” find ourselves in multiple wars if he were elected, and it’s even easier to see the bloody writing on the wall in Romney’s case.
But if he’s not running there are more relevant warrior-kings to look upon with worry in the next couple years. Gov. Ron DeSantis is the new darling of some of the anti-establishment right, but he’s about the closest thing to his derided fellow Floridian Jeb Bush one could ask for, the sort of guy who talks like a mild culture warrior but seeks to prove his bona fides in that area by spending tens of millions more taxpayer dollars on some bland, symbolic government program instead of liberating the culture from government altogether.
DeSantis had a registered foreign agent, who worked for a Ukrainian politician and vocally loves Zelensky, as his 2022 rapid response gubernatorial campaign director, so you have to imagine he’s not adamantly opposed to overseas intervention or intelligence-sector ties. He likes NSA surveillance even of allies, favored moderate U.S. troop deployment to Syria, endorsed war against ISIS, has called for increased military spending, and so on—by hawkish standards a moderate but predictably GOP/Romney-like agenda. DeSantis is not raging against the machine. He is the machine.
It could be worse. His fellow Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham said last month, “I like the path we’re on. With American weapons and money, Ukraine will fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.” Sounds costly. Days before that, our ally Israel bombed the Syrian capital, Damascus, so DeSantis may yet get the moderate troop deployment there for which he was hoping, and surely the recent earthquake in the area will help some warm-hearted humanitarian like Graham or Romney dream up a “humanitarian” excuse to assert more control of the region.
When the right’s in a “moderate” mood, we get war and spending as usual—but when the right waxes more earnest and philosophical, we also get some big-government spending scheme, whether from global-conquest visionaries like aging cynic William Kristol or from pro-drug-war and pro-gambling-war, anti-vice young Christian voices like guitar-playing Matthew Loftus, writing in The Atlantic recently as if prohibition hadn’t been tried yet on those fronts. Punt to populism and you also get some anti-capitalist regulatory scheme, possibly from Sen. Josh Hawley, who lives about two inches away, ideologically speaking, from Marxists who rail against the market’s dehumanization of the global proletariat.
For fostering across-the-board political skepticism right now, people might be better off averting their eyes and their hopes from the two-party crime orgy that is the Republican/Democrat system and starting to ask more unsettling questions. Take those mysterious balloons drifting across the world about which people have been in such a tizzy over the past few days.
Instead of jumping with alarm on cue as the establishment toggles back and forth between talking about them in military terms and talking about them in veiled extraterrestrial terms (for no good, clearly-explained reason), maybe now would be a good time to ask not whether there are space aliens visiting or military projects (domestic or foreign) to which we’re not privy but whether what the establishment loves—and loved in the same way back in the “Cold War paranoia” days of the 1950s—is precisely its ability to play us like a fiddle and have us fearing Martians one minute and the Chinese and/or Russians the next.
The recent adoption of vaguer “UAP” (unidentified aerial phenomena) language instead of the more suggestive old “UFO” lingo (just unidentified flying object but by now loaded with specific alien connotations) makes it so easy to steer reactions to any banal floating thing toward getting the pliable public hating China, loving China, cheering the U.S. military, hiding from space monsters, or even applauding the Canadian military as the establishment sees fit.
If you cheer one party or the other, or one national government or other, as the more adept balloon-busters, a universe of pundits will be at the ready to agree or disagree with you and play-fight with each other about it. If you suggest that any of them, or the politicians they love, might by contrast harbor thoughts of getting rid of all the balloon-tracking, balloon-destroying, balloon-launching, balloon-hoaxing, or jargon-spewing, balloon-redefining agencies, though, they’ll convincingly boo in unison and assure you, quite honestly, that they would do no such thing.
The last thing anyone wants is to be accused of trying to put a stop to the current insanity.
—Todd Seavey is the author of Libertarianism for Beginners and is on Twitter at @ToddSeavey
Who do we owe the thirty trillion to, is one question. Politics are probably necessary, if one hopes to manage a billion people at a time; it's the fucking money that makes public service appear useless. 2012: Wasn't it Romney who said his five sons were "serving their country" in trying to get him elected?