I’ve received some criticism for my stand on the fiscal cliff. Some conservatives seem to believe that the Republicans should have stood in the breech, like the Spartans at Thermopylae, unwilling to retreat from their principles. It’s a nice thought, but people seem to be forgetting an important point—the Spartans were slaughtered, and there’s no reserve army waiting back home if the Republicans go down.
We live in a Representative Democracy, and the people weren’t with us on this one. They didn’t want spending cuts. They wanted tax increases. If you doubt that, look at the campaign Obama ran. He was the first candidate in a long time to run explicitly on raising taxes. He offered no spending cuts. And he won.
There is no political will to finally get our fiscal house in order precisely because there is no public will to support such actions.
Now is not the time for kamikaze actions in the House. It’s a time for sharpening our message, reaffirming our ideals, and selling them to the American people. As Paul Ryan said, now that the fiscal cliff is out of the way, we can get to the debate we need on spending. Trying to hold Americans hostage to economic collapse to get our way would have been foolhardy. And if we had gone over the cliff, they would have blamed Republicans.
Instead of attacking each other, we need to work together to change the mentality of a society sliding towards dependency. If we don’t do that, then soon it will be a small minority indeed that supports spending cuts. And in a Representative Democracy such as ours, small minorities rarely get their way.