A Journal for Western Man

 

An Analysis of the Ideas of

Sam Brownback

G. Stolyarov II

(Originally Published on GrasstopsUSA.com)

Issue CV - June 16, 2007

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Principal Index

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Old Superstructure

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Old Master Index

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Contributors

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The Rational Business Journal

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Forum

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Yahoo! Group

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Gallery of Rational Art

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Online Store

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Henry Ford Award

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Johannes Gutenberg Award

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CMFF: Fight Death

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Eden against the Colossus

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A Rational Cosmology

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Implied Consent

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Links

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Helium.com

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Associated Content

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on GrasstopsUSA.com

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Submit/Contact

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Statement of Policy

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            To further educate voters about Republican contenders for the presidency, it is fitting to examine the ideas of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, a generally reliable social and economic conservative, many of whose suggested policies are in accord with the principles of limited government. Here, I will examine the strong points of Brownback’s platform, as well as the positions where his vagueness hurts him and hinders voters’ understanding of his true intentions.

            Brownback has strong conservative positions in the areas of marriage, abortion, and tax reform. His support for the traditional definition of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman is unambiguous. Brownback’s official position on the subject declares: “Make no mistake, a society that undermines marriage and the family is undermining itself, and a government that attempts to supplant rather than to support the family and marriage is bent on its own destruction.” Senator Brownback thus vigorously opposes any efforts to give government support to the oxymoronic idea of “gay marriage.”

            Brownback has also firmly denounced legalized abortion, calling the murder of millions of fetuses in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade a “holocaust.” He staunchly opposes any further tax increases, advocating a flat tax and a simplification of the tax code; he has even suggested using Washington, D. C., as a flat tax laboratory to see how the proposal might work in practice before implementing it nationwide.

            A prominent opponent of judicial activism, Senator Brownback believes that the objective of judges ought to be “to interpret the law, not to create it.” He has expressed vocal opposition to the federal judges redefining the laws of the country and the meaning of words in the Constitution to suit their own political biases.

            Brownback’s professed opposition to socialized medicine is grounds for hope, especially in the face of such champions of state-funded health care as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The senator believes that “the socialized medicine model has shown to deprive consumers of access to life-saving treatments and is downright inconsistent with the spirit of the American people to be free from unwanted government intervention.” This suffices to suggest that Brownback, if elected, will not further plunge the American healthcare system toward statism.

             Another strength of Brownback’s platform is his strongly worded support toward Israel, a country that in his words “serves as a beacon of freedom and hope in an otherwise troubled region.” If elected, Brownback is not likely to follow the present administration’s approach of giving half-hearted endorsements of Israel while preventing the Israeli military and settlers from defending themselves against the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah.

            While Brownback is generally a convincing and principled social and economic conservative, he is weak on issues where his positions are vaguely expressed. He recognizes, for instance, the crisis faced by the current Social Security system, but his response to it lacks specificity. Brownback writes, “We must firmly resolve to keep our commitment to current retirees and those preparing to retire. Further, we must modernize the system to ensure that Social Security is financially sound for our children. I believe every American has a stake in this debate, and I will continue to keep the dialogue open as we work toward a solution.”

            Few candidates or voters will take issue with Brownback’s first statement; whatever the deep flaws of the Social Security system might be, the government needs to keep the promises it made to individuals under that system. But how does Senator Brownback propose to modernize Social Security? What kind of solution does he want to work toward? There is no mention of either partially privatizing or gradually abolishing this failed system, so readers are left with no guarantees that Brownback will not simply perpetuate the status quo.

            Brownback’s stances on agriculture give a further illustration of how vagueness in his positions hurts the Kansas senator. He writes, “I believe in agriculture innovation and remain committed to efforts that will help enable farmers to embrace the production of biofuels such as ethanol. I will continue to support America’s agriculture industry by bolstering rural communities and the efforts of America’s farmers.” The question advocates of limited government ought to ask about this position is: how does Brownback want to support the production of biofuels? Is it through tax credits to farmers who produce them—which takes money away from government and puts it into the private sector—or is it through taxpayer-funded subsidies that are nothing more than a concealed coercive redistribution of wealth?

             In truth, the policies Brownback historically advocated to promote alternative fuels are not at odds with limited government. His 2006 Dependence Reduction through Innovation in Vehicles and Energy (DRIVE) Act took the approach of offering extensive tax credits to developers of ethanol fuels, as well as hybrid and electric cars. Since taxpayers are not additionally burdened by the granting of tax credits, this is not an instance of redistribution of wealth, nor does it grow the scope of government; it is just the giving back of a certain percentage of those manufacturers’ tax contributions.  But Brownback’s vague wording makes it unclear to voters whether the senator opposes increased agricultural subsidies on principle; there are still no guarantees that a President Brownback will not give alternative fuel manufacturers a portion of everybody else’s hard-earned money.

            Another worrisome part of Brownback’s platform is a passage that seems like advocacy of a national ID card: “A secure, fraud-resistant ID must be the foundation of a robust worksite enforcement system that requires every new employee to be screened for valid work authorization.” If there is any quick, easy way to strangle a robust economy, it is by adding more bureaucracy to the employment process. The costs in terms of time and resources of searching for and finding a job are already astronomically high. Adding an additional layer of “screening” will not only delay the employment of qualified individuals; it is certain to lead to law-abiding Americans being denied jobs for which they are qualified, based on the false suspicions and mistakes of even well-intentioned government bureaucrats. Any measure which imposes inconveniences on all people in America will do nothing to solve the problem of illegal immigration; it will only stifle the freedoms of people who have done no wrong. But does Brownback truly want that kind of screening, or a different, less intrusive sort? Again, his words do not make that clear.

            Is Sam Brownback a truly worthwhile choice for the presidency? He is certainly worthy of consideration, and his consistent, resolute stances on issues such as marriage, abortion, and judicial activism place him well ahead of contenders such as Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. However, Brownback’s sometimes inscrutable language conceals his true intentions in areas like Social Security, alternative fuels, and IDs for employees. It is vital to have pro-freedom stances on each of these subjects, and whether Brownback qualifies remains to be seen.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre,  Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, weekly columnist for GrasstopsUSA.com, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. His most recent play is Implied Consent. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here..

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.