Publisher’s Note: In a 2010 editorial the Wall St. Journal had this to say looking back at the 2006 loss by Republicans of the U.S. House of Representatives: “It isn’t easy to spend so much money so egregiously that even Nancy Pelosi could campaign as a relative fiscal conservative, but the Tom DeLay Republicans managed the feat in 2006.” Daniel Hamm writes below about seeing the same in this year’s Alaska legislative races.
Campaign Role Reversal
by Daniel Hamm
President, Alaska Republican Assembly
I see a huge irony with the role reversals in this political campaign for state office. Many Democrats and Independents have snatched the fiscal conservatism flag away from their Republican challengers and are racing up the November election hill to plant it in front of the ballot box. Will Republicans continue to show themselves innocent of nearly all cognitive financial ability and restraint?
This year’s staggering $1.6 Billion worth of red ink has stained virtually every legislator’s hands- and not a single red cent was vetoed. This legislature continued to grow Juneau’s massive state bureaucracy and welfare entitlement programs despite all campaign promises to do just the opposite. I feel it’s the job of grassroots Republican voters to remind them that we are paying attention to their cross dressing with their ideological opposites on the left.
After speaking to a number of legislators, I am convinced that they have forgotten one off the cornerstones our party is built on. Unrestrained government growth is the number one threat to our personal freedoms. Unrestrained bureaucracy growth- like what we have in Juneau- destroys freedom, privacy, and personal initiative by smothering private enterprise and making Alaskans dependent on the welfare state and government jobs. Per capita, Alaska has more state government load than any other state which is crushing our economy under a mountain of red tape and keeping our poorest perpetually caught in the welfare net.
As a corollary to the first point, unrestrained government growth is also the number one threat to our financial solvency as a state. With our declining oil revenues coupled with our annual state bureaucracy growth of 6-9% per year, Alaska is going to run out of savings relatively quickly and have to either establish a broad based tax or raid the PFD or both. Also, a broke, multi-billion dollar state bureaucracy is very politically unstable in its tax and regulatory policies making new companies very wary of investing. A state fiscal reckoning is on the near horizon- perhaps as early as 2018 or sooner as oil prices continue to plummet with widespread hydraulic fracking in use in freer oil producing states that don’t have to penetrate Alaska’s gigantic bureaucracies such- as our 1200 person, $160 million DNR.
Less state government is the key to our state’s economic salvation not more of it. One legislator related to me the thought process in Juneau where you had to vote a certain way to avoid losing your seat to a Democrat in your district. It’s that sloppy thinking that has covered all their hands in red ink.
This will be campaign season of cross dressing candidates. Nearly every R up for reelection voted to grow the size and scope of Juneau but will try distance themselves from that fact by replacing their big-government lace with more traditional conservative campaign clothes. Many D’s now have sported the fiscal conservative look on the campaign trail and are making R’s very nervous on the constituent dance floor.
I’m not happy with this role reversal. Nor should voters be.The unstated goal of the GOP for some time now is to continually move to the ever drifting political center to keep in power. The problem is that over time you lose your political soul and identity in the process. It’s time to revive the spirit in the Republican Party which is really the spirit of America based on the dream of growth and enlightenment through individual freedom as opposed to the supremacy of the state. The GOP platform is a great one and the Alaska Republican Assembly mission is to hold that torch high both on and off the campaign trail.