Senator Joseph Lieberman looked unusually distraught recently when he complained that Miami ballot inspectors may have stopped their manual recount due to “the rule of the mob,” namely loud pro-Bush demonstrators. In fact, Miami-Dade election supervisor David Leahy, who Lieberman claimed Republicans pressured, told the Los Angeles Times, “I was not intimidated” by the GOP’s “noisy, peaceful protest.” Leahy cited time constraints for the recount’s suspension.
Lieberman’s lament is empty given the Democratic troublemakers who have rubbed nerves raw in Florida. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have led their own boisterous, racially tinged rallies as Team Gore has looked on silently. Also, the AFL-CIO has sent union laborers to display Gore-Lieberman signs beneath the palm trees. According to NBC News, Lieberman himself told friends that he supports Gore’s legal wrangling given the stories he has heard from Holocaust survivors who inadvertently voted for Pat Buchanan. Shame on Lieberman for dragging the Final Solution into the Florida Fiasco.
What Republicans in particular and the American Right in general need are more demonstrations, not less. Neither the rigors of capitalism nor the vital work of policy analysis should prevent market-oriented patriots from acting up for their philosophy. They should take the time to take it to the streets.
No matter who recites the oath of office next January, conservatives and libertarians in public affairs will be working in combat boots. A President Bush would need supportive, grass-roots action to push his program through a barely-Republican Congress. A President Gore, meanwhile, should anticipate active opposition from an energized right if he attempts to build his bridge to the Great Society while Democrats seek to control Congress by 2002. Republicans and their allies should use street theater to rally the American people behind their worthy ideas.
Why not, for instance, organize a nationwide mobilization effort called Stand Up for Skills and Safety? This would help school choice activists refute the Left’s caricature of education reformers as only interested in making the world safe for white, Christian schools. In fact, more than 1.5 million mostly minority kids are on waiting lists for private scholarships to flee collapsing and dangerous government schools for private and parochial classrooms where they might learn something. From coast to coast, these kids, their parents, and supporters on the Right should march on city halls, school board headquarters and the White House holding signs that say, “Emancipate our children,” “Grammar — not gangs” and “Let My People Go!”
Most Americans are shocked to learn that the U.S. has no barrier against incoming nuclear warheads, even those launched accidentally or without authorization. This is an outrage. Those who favor a ballistic missile defense system should dramatize this point by marching on Congress with umbrellas that have been stripped down to their metal skeletons, like those that failed to protect Wile E. Coyote from falling anvils. Shouts of “Shield us now!” would drive the point home.
A March Against The Madness next April 15 should mock the state of taxes. Families pushing shopping carts full of groceries, mortgage bills, and apparel would illustrate that the average American family pays more in taxes than on food, housing, and clothing combined. Married couples in tuxedoes and wedding dresses should demand an end to the marriage penalty. Men dressed as Theodore Roosevelt holding telephones to their faces with their mouths taped shut would satirize the “talking tax” — the federal excise levy on telephones, originally adopted to finance the Spanish-American War of 1898. Scores of tractors could bring up the rear to portray the plight of Americans who must sell their family farms to pay federal death taxes of up to 55 percent when their parents pass away.
These ideas and better ones must be coupled with a constant campaign to court the media. Yes, journalists tend to be more liberal than libertarian, but they always have column inches and airtime to fill. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, those on the Right would be amazed at how much publicity they can generate if they make an effort to befriend and educate reporters and assignment editors.
Visuals and word play are priceless, too. FreeRepublic.com scored a masterstroke with its lampoon of the Gore-Lieberman campaign logo, reborn in the same colors and typeface as “Sore-Loserman 2000,” complete with a tiny crybaby’s tear drop dangling from the red swoosh featured in the Democrats’ official graphic. Bush voters downloaded this image from the Internet and printed it on placards they waved in the sunshine. Sore-Loserman signs appeared earlier this week on my hotel TV in London — and everywhere else.
Judging by Joe Lieberman’s criticisms, Democrats are startled to see Republicans stand and fight for their beliefs. The Right’s new duty is to make the Left painfully accustomed to such activity.