As a disclaimer, the majority of this article was written on election night, mere minutes after the decision was made. I thought it best to be more removed, emotionally, from the event and have edited it for a more objective analysis.
Any opposition group runs the risk of alienating uninitiated voters by cloaking themselves in an overly self-righteous sense. Acting out of a sense of moral superiority, regardless of accuracy, is a turn off to undecided bystanders and those in actual authority. There is a pain to those who seek substantive tax reform in the outcome of the 2012 election. I do not seek to stick my thumb in that wound or to rub salt in it. But there is a failure in not realizing mistakes that create outcomes. While it may be early in the night to attempt to lay claim to a clear understanding of the complexities of national exit polls; and it may be too presumptuous to even attempt to peer into the minds of voters nationwide, it is clear that the side that argues for financial independence from government and individual responsibility did not do its job this go-around.
There is an assumption that merely stating our case is enough, and that people will follow our pied piper’s tune with the merest of mentions or the casual passing phrase. They do not. I am just as guilty of this devastating deceit. We believe that we are right and that others will simply see as we do. It is plain to us that the FairTax is obviously the best way to go, and to view those who oppose us as greedy, self-serving, or cowardly. And we might be exactly right. But to convince a majority of those in power and a majority of those voting for those in power, we cannot act on that judgment alone.
I had an entirely different idea for an article tonight. It recalled the famous speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V. It begins with a war “pep talk” with a stirring, “Once more into the breach, good friends, once more”. But as a passionate and fervent FairTax supporter, I can honestly say I feel discouraged tonight. A rousing war time speech is the last thing I want to hear, much less write. But I do hearken back to an incredible question. “Why do we fall?” It is bound to happen, to even the best of us. We can fail to gain the support we thought we could, or fall short of our own expectations. We can lose a big election which will sap our sponsorship. But to give the fall meaning, we have to act upon it. We can learn to pick ourselves up. It is this action and response that makes the tumble down, while painful, worth it. What can we learn here? While it is true that the FairTax was not up for debate, the broad principles behind it were. While we did not have a candidate that supported the FairTax, we elected one who supports furthering our current system. While we may be demoralized and worse for wear, we are not beaten and our idea still lives to fight another day. It is true that for now we toil away in darkness, away from the political limelight. Tonight we saw that this has its advantages. But we need to realize that it was really only about tonight, tomorrow is another day. And if there is a reason that we fall, it is to realize that with tomorrow comes the chance to rise again. If we fall, we learn to pick ourselves up, and in doing so become something that we were not before.
The outcome of this election has also provided us with something that we did not have before. Time. The next four years will not see our idea implemented. While lip-service is paid to some general principle of tax reform, we should know that the author of the 2011 speech at Osawatomie, Kansas does not sound like someone who will be willing to remove power from the federal government and give it back to the people. But we have an opportunity to build something over the next four years that we currently lack, a ground game. When it is time for the next national election, we will be ready to have the FairTax discussion on our terms. Our goal of education is made all the more difficult because we do not control the language of the debate, the currently entrenched interests do. And if they wish to stay entrenched then we will bombard them from the outside since we have the time to do so now.
This is a perfect chance to utilize the State Resolution Initiative. (A tab explaining this can be found at the top of the website.) If we can speak to local legislatures, where we should have more access and influence, then we can begin our revolution at the local level. Any successful regime change begins in such a way. Accomplishing this will have a multi-faceted effect. We will generate publicity, create discussion, gain authority and legitimacy, put people on record, and apply public pressure, all of which we currently do not do to effective levels. All successful revolutions are grown at the individual level, our own included. John Adams proved as such in 1818 with these words,
“The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”
I have talked to far too many this past week that would suggest that the spirit of this great revolution has been lost in the midst of an aggressive entitlement society, a growth of moral relativism, an increased sense of selfishness, and a disrespect of history. But there are matters in life which require faith. There are moments in life where we are pushed into unfamiliar territory and spread thin. This is when we fall. And why do we fall? It is so that we can learn to pick ourselves up. And ladies and gentlemen, we have some work to do.