At the end of this message, please find a Friday media announcement . . . DownsizeDC.org President Jim Babka on the Jerry Hughes radio show this afternoon.
Downsize DC Ideology Is an Oxymoron
by Jim BabkaIn my last editorial I cited four news items from a single week demonstrating how Big Government failure is rewarded.
Failed Big government programs are almost always expanded. They're very rarely cut and never eliminated. This is true even when the program is hurting the very people it was intended to help.
Some took exception and our subscription list shrunk visibly. We're fine with that.
I'm also fine with the person who wrote a thoughtful note saying that he had benefited from a government welfare program at a critical time in his life. I'm glad he was helped.
I would never contend that "no one" is helped by federal programs. Instead, I would ask what the costs and benefits are as a whole. I would also ask whether one-size-fits all federal programs are better than having a variety of decentralized programs at the state and local level. I would ask if a private program might be better still.
For instance, would you rather donate money for low-cost housing to HUD or Habitat for Humanity?
Do such questions represent an ideology or merely the kind of due-diligence and skeptical inquiry every responsible citizen should pursue?
Our friendly but critical writer went on to say how much he liked our "Read the Bills Act." He said he had also sent other messages through Downsize DC, but that now he was concerned about us. It appeared to him we might be too "libertarian-conservative."
Maybe you read that column and felt the same way. I want to set concerned minds at ease.
To begin with, we agree about our "Read the Bills Act." It's a wonderful transpartisan issue; neither conservative, nor liberal, nor libertarian. Consider . . .
Back in October, I appeared on a syndicated radio show, hosted by conservative, fundamentalist Christians who spend most of their time talking about the rapture, the seven year tribulation, and the anti-Christ. Less than two weeks later, I appeared on a Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender program on Sirius Satellite radio. The lists of other guests to appear on that show was a progressive Who's-Who.
Aside from the fact that both shows had me as a guest, you would assume that they had nothing else in common. But that would be wrong.
* Both shows liked DownsizeDC.org (seriously liked it).
* Both shows want me to come back as a guest in the future.
* Both shows loved -- yes, LOVED -- the "Read the Bills Act."
And that has been my experience on nearly every radio show I've done. I've been on liberal, conservative, libertarian, and populist programs this year with Republican, Democratic, third-party, and independent hosts, and I can only recall one host who DIDN'T ask me to come back. Nearly everyone, outside the DC beltway, is fond of the "Read the Bills Act."
So we can agree, the "Read the Bills Act" is "transpartisan." You can like or love it regardless of your partisan affiliation or ideology.
But I want to go much farther than that. I want to be completely clear.
* Downsize DC is not libertarian.
* Downsize DC is not conservative.
* Downsize DC is not liberal, progressive, or green.
When we chose our name a marketing and persuasion expert called me. He noticed that the name wasn't libertarian or conservative, or some form of liberal. "You've chosen a direction; not a destination," he told me. "That's very smart; very savvy. And," he continued, "if you maintain this marketing position -- I mean really protect and reinforce it -- you'll be able to reach everyone, because nearly every American agrees the federal government is too big."
Simply put: Downsize DC has no ideology. We have no utopian plans for how to run the world. We have no pre-determined ultimate destination. We simply believe the FEDERAL government should be dramatically smaller than it is now. A Big Federal Government is the BIG PROBLEM, so we have little to say about state or local programs.
Downsize DC has no partisan preference either. We believe partisanship is a deadly poison and an ineffective way to cause positive change. We believe the electoral process is broken beyond repair -- at least for the time being, and so we turn our backs on it, and on all of its associated partisan tribalism.
We don't do labels either, other than the very concrete, direction oriented label of Downsizer. Abstract labels are just vague symbols. When it comes to symbols we very much subscribe to comedian George Carlin's assertion that he "leaves symbolism to the symbol minded."
This means you can call us whatever you want, as long as it's the concrete, meaningful name "Downsizer," and not the abstract, vague, subject-to-distortion, labels like liberal, conservative, libertarian, Republican or Democrat.
To hear people talk, it seems that few can agree on what those words really mean. We want to be clear when we speak. Here's what we mean: we want to DOWNSIZE the FEDERAL government. We are "DC Downsizers."
We are focused in this way because we want to make progress, not spin our wheels. The only hope we see for positive change in the correct DIRECTION is to build a force so large that it can change the environment, plus bring so much direct pressure on Congress that Congress cannot resist. Doing this requires a transpartisan, transideological approach, along with a strategy of direction rather than ultimate destination. And that's why we are who we are.
Apparently, others are starting to think in the same way.
This month, a columnist for the "Washington Times" suggested that a new type of group was needed. Let me paraphrase his words . . .
Instead of a partisan organization he suggested a new interest group organized along the lines of the National Rifle Association or the various pro- and anti-abortion groups. This new group would pressure Capitol Hill and run advertisements. It would work with more than one party in temporary coalitions on particular issues. It would have no ideological purity standard.
That nearly describes Downsize DC to a "T."
Ask Americans on the street, "Do you believe the federal government is too big, too small, or just about the right size?" Then ask them, "Do you believe Congress should actually be required to read the bills they compel us to live under?"
I've done it. Want to know the results? 9 out of 10 people say yes to both questions.
But the second we let things become partisan or ideological -- once we're pigeon-holed -- turn out the lights, because our effectiveness will dwindle. And as Downsize DC gets larger and shows up on the radar screens of various big political machines, they're likely to attempt to divide and conquer us with a label. The Two Party system thrives on fear -- fear that the other guy might get elected.
We want no part of that.
That's why the issues we've chosen have largely reflected a transpartisan, trans-ideological approach. We've spoken out against incumbent protection acts. We've fought for privacy, free speech and press rights, as well as other parts of the Bill of Rights. We've fought against a government-upsizing foreign policy. We've called for greater accountability from the FEDERAL government (instead of seeking more regulations on the people).
We've spoken truth to power, which, during Downsize DC's short history has been an entirely Republican power. But our ethic of speaking truth to power isn't going to stop or change now just because the Democrats are now in charge. What's good for one is good for the other. We have no preference for the shirts or the skins, or even for those guys over there in the funny hats.
We'll continue to speak truth to power regardless of who is in office. We frankly don't care who that is. The satirical newspaper, "The Onion," had it right when its post election headline read, "Politicians sweep mid-term elections."
The partisan and ideological divisions that separate Americans are a large part of what allows the federal government to be so bloated, expensive, oppressive, nosy, and inefficient. Instead, we're looking to unite Americans on the BIG CONSENSUS that we all share -- the Downsize DC Consensus.
Obviously, some folks like the political game. They want to play "Hardball," or "enter the No-Spin Zone," or whatever. They're obsessed with personalities, parties, and so forth. To those expecting us to tiptoe lightly when it comes to their favorite party, let me say this, Downsize DC is not for you.
But if you can open yourself to a new way of doing things, let me suggest Downsize DC is a bit like . . .
* a train going across the country. You can ride it as far as you wish. Maybe you don't think the federal government should be quite as small as we're proposing. You don't need to ride the train as far as I would. You can get off whenever you like.
* an amusement park. You can pick and choose whatever rides you like. Maybe you're like me. I don't like rides that spin me around. I turn green (and not in the political sense). But I think roller coasters are cool. Similarly, you can send messages on those issues you agree with, and forego those about which you have qualms. Enjoy the ride.
I'd like to make one final point in response to our thoughtful correspondent . . .
Not only does Downsize DC lack an ideology and a preferred party, we also lack specific solutions. I'm glad you were able to find help in your time of need. Our emphasis is strictly on Downsizing DC -- reducing the size, scope, expense, and power of the FEDERAL government. But just because Washington isn't funding or running it, doesn't mean that help wouldn't be available.
There are state governments, and local governments, and private alternatives too.
So when we call for the reduction or the end of a program, we're talking about the FEDERAL government, and we usually don't take a position, as an organization, on what state or local governments should or should not do.
If a given issue has nothing to do with reducing the size, scope, expense, and centralized power of the FEDERAL government, then we'll leave that issue to someone else, because we're here to Downsize DC, and that job is large enough to keep us busy for some time to come.
So having said, we wish you a happy New Year, and a smaller FEDERAL government in the years to come. If you would like that to happen faster in 2007 than it did in 2006, there's still time to make a year-end contribution.
UPDATE: The response to James Marquart's matching funds proposal was quick and strong. We not only collected that full $1,000, but we raised 2,050 besides. That means we only need about $2,000 to make budget for December! If you would've told me we'd get that far back in August, I wouldn't have believed you. Downsize DC is a growing, winning investment of activist dollars. Only a couple of days remain in this year. Please, help us meet our budgetary goal. You can make your contribution HERE.
And if you want to do like James Marquart and make a similar matching fund challenge for January, please hit reply to this message and let us know how to contact you.
DownsizeDC.org President Jim Babka will be on the radio today (Friday). Accent Radio Network host Jerry Hughes welcomes Jim back for his regular Friday feature.
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