November 16, 2016

Trump or No Trump

By Jim Babka

In 2009, Barack Obama took office. Downsize DC was 4 ½ years old at that point. We had been in near-constant battle with the policies of George W. Bush.

  • If “war is the health of The State,” then the Bush administration was the ultimate caregiver.
  • The Bush administration was also a nightmare for civil liberties, giving us the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act.
  • On spending, Bush was no conservative. He passed the single largest expansion of entitlements since Lyndon Johnson. And…
  • He took declining deficits and expanded them back to record levels.
  • On the way out of office, he delivered the banker’s bailout.

We wished Obama well in 2009. While we hoped that his best campaign promises would be realized, we also knew we’d be fighting his worst proposals. In other words, we were going to judge Obama by the same standards we applied to Bush. Not all of our supporters understood that. Many of them had short memories. When we critiqued Obama, we were asked, repeatedly…


Well, we were there, criticizing Bush!

Still others thought, like so many simple-minded people do, that because we had criticized Bush, we must be left-statists like them. So they were shocked when we starting criticizing Obama in the same way. There was no category in their head for critiquing both statist sides — left and right — on the basis of principle. They just couldn’t accommodate the thought.

We saw tremendous attrition for the first few months of 2009. Lots of people unsubscribed, angrily. By January of that year, we were already in a place where we needed to describe our position and defend ourselves. What we wrote then, applies now. Here’s a portion of that message… is, by law, non-partisan. But the managers of go one step further. We are philosophically and temperamentally ANTI-partisan. We believe political parties are a problem, not a solution.

Likewise, we’re skeptical of politicians. Any person who thinks he or she is qualified to make decisions for others, and to coerce others to abide by those decisions, is automatically suspect in our eyes. Politicians, almost by definition, are people who feel qualified to use government coercion to manage other people’s lives.

We disagree with them. They aren’t qualified. No one is.

In our view the best a politician can do is work to limit the use of government power. These boundaries are required by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Sadly, most politicians are too impressed with themselves to limit themselves in such a way.

We still believe every word of that. In fact, if you go back and read that message, you’ll discover we don’t have a lot of respect for the partisan mindset.

We’re hopeful about some things Donald Trump has said. Yet we anticipate, in part because some of his stated policies are already disconcerting to us, that we’ll be quite critical.

Therefore, if our judgments and objections bother you, please note two things…

  • We’re remaining consistent. When the new President does something right, and he likely will, we’ll salute those efforts. We’re not picking on anyone. We’re not simple-minded partisans with axes to grind. We’re continuing to advocate the same principles we always have. We hope you can respect and appreciate that.
  • It’s unreasonable to expect any organization to agree with you 100%. We hope, if you agree with us generally on principle, and you favor our unique specific issues, such as the One Subject at a Time Act, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Read the Bills Act, and the rest of our Downsize DC Agenda, that you’ll continue to work with us. Dividing with a group because of one or two policy disagreements makes very little strategic sense.

We’re saying all of this now because…

We are about to launch a brand new website with 16 new capacities, as listed in the right column of this message. AND…

We’re about to announce a new set of strategies to deal with the new Congress taking office in January. We want to get a “head start” on re-enlisting sponsors for the One Subject at a Time Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

These efforts will require resources. And despite our declaration that we’re not grinding partisan axes, our first messages of critique on Trump policies will be met with rage and howls of disbelief. Subscribers and even donors will be lost.

So, to make the next two years into “breakout” years, we’ll need your ongoing support. In fact, monthly, credit card pledgers give us the stability to plan ahead, even take risks. Would you please consider joining us as a monthly pledger?

And if a pledge is not right for you at this time, then would you please consider a one-time donation. We run so efficiently that we only need to raise $15,000 between now and the end of the year to meet our budget goals. So your generous one-time contribution would be very helpful.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka
Downsize DC

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