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Is the GOP Walking the Conservative Talk?

August 1, 2002

I send copies of my rightturns.com articles to close friends I have been fortunate enough to get to know along the way in life. The danger this represents is that most of these guys know me more than I am willing to admit. Their reactions since rightturns.com was inaugurated last year have been mixed: "way to go; keep up the fight"; "the article you attached … is the puree of poop"; reading aloud one article supposedly nearly started a bar fight (maybe that one was a joke); "When did you turn so radical?"; etc. The reason I do send them the articles, however, is that they are willing to be blunt and forthright about my writings. I need friends like that to keep me from veering off from political pragmatism into academic idealism, a direction I will tend toward but do not wish to pursue.

Responses from these friends re: my June 1, 2002 article "Why Liberalism is De-Motivating" (
http://www.rightturns.com/columnists/harper/sh20020601.htm) form the basis of this edition's article.

The responses have pointed out that there are plenty of examples of elected GOP practicing what I called in my article "liberal de-motivating" actions. For example:

1. Duties were imposed by the Bush Administration on Canadian softwood imports to prop up Oregon's "inefficient" softwood industry. This in turns "de-motivates" industry from seeking improvements and efficiency gains.

2. Up to 30% tariffs were imposed by the Bush Administration on imported steel. Haven't we been trying to bail out "Big Steel" since the 60's? Have previous government interventions given them a leg up in becoming more efficient? No. Not reported very much is the fact that there are some very successful US steel companies who fight government intervention: check out AK Steel and Nucor.

3. The Bush Administration signed what I have called the "Farmer Welfare Act of 2002" (http://www.rightturns.com/columnists/harper/sh20020515.htm ) raising farm subsidies to their greatest level ever. That is clearly a "de-motivating" action. Expect more farms, especially "family" farms, to go bankrupt in the next few years.

4. Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist (Republican) actively supported the largest tax increase in Tennessee. And this is during an economic slowdown! Clearly de-motivating.

5. The Bush Administration (again?!) blocked offshore oil and gas drilling in Florida, while trumpeting the need to increase domestic production.

6. See Henry Pelifian's contribution to this edition's "Headlines We Will Never See".

7. The Bush Administration's bill for the new Department of Homeland Security continues to grow in bureaucratic numbers and complexity and thus ineffectiveness. The President's budget man, Mitch Daniels, has been quoted as saying "The goal is more effective and efficient government, not fewer employees as an end to itself." I say there is nothing more "de-motivating" as effective and efficient government. We will all be in more trouble if that happens. His statement is a sure sign of a conservative that has been inside the Beltway too long. He no longer questions the role of government; he now focuses on how to make it "better".

There are other points I could make, but I think the overall observation of my friends is right on the money. The GOP can claim no ideological purity. In fact, there are many examples of not walking the talk of conservative politics. And thus they become a source of "de-motivation". They are succumbing to the hubris incited thinking that government is a problem solver - classic de-motivating Democrat thinking - and not an enabler (i.e., motivator) for citizens to solve their own problems.


Sam T. Harper graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University.  Following a tour in the US Navy and a stint as Operations Manager at Roadway Express, he earned his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  He was a contributor to “In Search of Excellence,” the best selling business book of all time.  Sam was also Manager, Economic Planning & Analysis at Sohio Petroleum, Partner and Chief Financial Officer at investment-banking firm Bridgemere Capital, and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Contemporary Studies, a San Francisco Bay Area-based think tank and international publishing firm that specializes in self-governing and entrepreneurial public policy.  Sam was a chairman of the San Francisco Republican party and the GOP co-host of California Political Review on KALW-FM in San Francisco.  Sam is currently the co-owner of the Tennessee based Institute for Local Effectiveness Training, LLC – a management consulting, training, and coaching firm.