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August 29, 2006

Radical vs Controversial

Today’s Downsizer-Dispatch…
Yesterday we answered the question of why government continues to grow even though most people think it should shrink. We established that everyone is responding rationally to the incentives of the system. We asserted that we must change the incentives so that . . .

The cost politicians pay to increase government is unbearably high, while the cost the taxpayers pay to stop government growth is very low.

We established that there are certain facts about Congressional power that make it possible to change the incentives in just this way. Using the low-cost organizing power of the Internet, combined with a host of other low-cost tactics, we can inflict extreme pain on Congress and force them to Downsize DC.

Today we’ll look at another aspect of the problem, and another part of the solution.

Nearly everyone believes government in too large in general, but nearly everyone is willing for government to grow in some specific area. Politicians use these exceptions to the Downsizing Consensus to Divide & Conquer the populace. There are many examples of these exceptions, but most of them share two things in common . . .

Exceptions to the Downsizing Consensus are usually controversial and highly emotional subjects.

A controversial subject is best defined by pointing to an example. Abortion. This issue is highly emotional. People’s minds are made-up about it. You can’t unite the public with this controversial subject, no matter how much you argue or persuade. But skillful politicians can use it to divide us into warring partisan tribes. These kinds of divisions shatter the Downsizing Consensus, and because of this division we are conquered.

Politicians use controversial subjects to maintain their power and keep government growing ever-larger. They love to point to their opponents and say, “If you vote for the other candidate, they’ll do the wrong thing on abortion {or fill in the blank}.” All-too-often, in this Divide & Conquer game, people vote for the lesser of two evils, and they tend to decide which candidate is the “lesser evil” based on the controversial subject.

It’s important to understand that the controversial subject may not itself be a Big Government idea, but it can carry Big Government proposals to power on its coattails by diverting the publics’ focus away from the Downsizing Consensus, and by dividing us into warring partisan tribes. The road to increased government is paved with controversial subjects. Fortunately, there are three solutions to this problem . . .

1. Bypass partisan politics
2. Bypass controversial subjects
3. Focus on radical ideas

A radical idea is one that would cause a radical change in the way government operates, but that hasn’t been adopted by the partisans because it works against their interests.

If the idea is truly radical, the real power players are unlikely to touch it — at least, not at first and in its pure form. If it becomes popular, they might attempt to exploit it by adopting the idea rhetoricly and introducing a watered-down substitute. They might even roll-out a Constitutional Amendment that they know has no chance of passing. But they’ll steer clear of the pure proposal for as long as they can.

* The “Read the Bills Act” is a radical idea
* The “Write the Laws Act” is a radical idea
* The proposed “One Subject at a Time Act” is a radical idea

These proposals are radical because they would cause radical change, and because they lie outside the mainstream debate. But they are also non-controversial, so they aren’t subject to partisan posturing and manipulation. They are trans-partisan. These issues turn-the-tables on the politicians.

Whereas politicians import Big Government proposals on the coattails of controversial subjects, we can import Downsizing proposals on the coattails of these radical ideas. Controversial subjects shatter the Downsizing Consensus while radical ideas keep it united, even in the face of minor disagreements over particular issues.

DownsizeDC.org President Jim Babka has done over 40 radio interviews this year and in EVERY SINGLE ONE of them the host liked the “Read the Bills Act,” and so did the listeners. In only one of them did a listener call-in to voice an objection. And the biggest objection Jim faced in these forums was the Public Choice problem. People have asked, “How are we going to convince Congress to pass this bill?”

Now we can bring all the pieces of the puzzle together . . .

* DownsizeDC.org is “putting the publics’ choice back in public choice theory” by lowering the cost to the taxpayer of opposing government growth while raising the cost to the politicians of making government grow.

* We are using radical, trans-partisan, proposals to step outside the rigged partisan game, unify the members of the Downsizing Consensus, and build a huge army.

* This army will use low-cost tactics to exert relentless, inescapable, mind-numbing pressure on a tiny Congress and its vulnerable portals of communication.

* This pressure will come from everywhere, all at once, because our ever-growing army will allow us to promote our trans-partisan ideas to everyone, everywhere, everyday (Operation Everywhere).

*The success of our strategy depends not on some Big Bang victory at the ballot box, but on the Relentless Incremental growth of our army, our financial resources, and our outreach.

By increasing our army, our financial support, and our Operation Everywhere outreach in small increments everyday, it becomes no longer a question of if Congress can be overwhelmed, but when. And the “when” is getting closer everyday.

Via monthly pledges, we’ve now covered $55,000 of the $168,000 we need to launch Operation Everywhere and the “One Subject at a Time Act.” If you’d like to contribute to our rising tide of financial support by making a monthly credit card pledge of $3 or more, or a one-time contribution, you can do so here.

Thanks to one-time donors, we’re only $2,540 away from making our budget for August. Please make a generous donation now.

If you’ve supported us this Summer, thank you very much.

Perry Willis
Communications Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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