In trying to understand the abject nuttiness surrounding this year’s Republican primary contest, more than a few people have taken to quoting my 2012 book — Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America” — back at me on social media. “I remember when a famous libertarian said we must have a hostile takeover of the GOP,” one tweet read. “We’ve reached that moment in history.”
In the era of Trump, it seems not just appropriate, but expected, to cite your own book. The more often you do it, the better it gets. So I decided to reread “Hostile Takeover.” And, I must say, I nailed it. It’s the best.
Granted, it’s no “Art of the Deal,” but my book sounds pretty predictive today. And, if I’m right, the implications are huge. Here’s the first sentence: “Imagine a once successful enterprise, long ago built on the principles of hard work, growth and innovation, that has grown arrogant, fat and happy from earlier successes.”
Sound familiar? I was writing about the growing credibility gap between the Washington establishment and the rest of America.
Takeovers replace failed business practices and failed managers. Hostile takeovers do the same, but are decidedly unwelcomed by the existing management regime.
When a failing company burdened with entrenched, visionless executives is challenged by insurgent entrepreneurial leadership from outside the corporation, expect those in privileged position to do whatever it takes to cling to power regardless of what is best for the company and its customers. Often CEOs pad their boards of directors with friends and other CEOs that manage related firms in a similar fashion. In this case, change is difficult, and any friendly takeover is rebuffed immediately.
It’s only “hostile” because the interests in Washington — the political class, the rent-seekers, the power-hoarders, the government-employees-for-life, the moochers and looters — like things just the way they are. The mere presence of citizens with better ideas and the will to implement them is viewed as a hostile act.
In “Hostile Takeover,” I recount a November 2011 drama, when hundreds of citizen activists traveled, at their own personal expense, from across the country, to Washington, D.C. Their purpose? To present to Congress a comprehensive plan, crowd-sourced from tens of thousands of fellow citizens, to balance the budget. This was something that Republicans had promised to do in 2010, but sure enough, those election year promises were quickly abandoned by the new Republican majority, replaced by a bipartisan “Super Committee.” We all know how that would eventually play out.
Back then, these citizens were trying to be helpful. They felt that they had earned a seat at the table. If Washington can’t figure it out, maybe we can help. Senator Mike Lee heard of their efforts and organized a formal presentation in the Russell Senate office building. The final citizens’ budget was to be presented to interested members of Congress by veterans (Defense and Homeland Security functions), teachers (Department of Education), and seniors (Medicare and Social Security). But it never happened. The group was unceremoniously ousted by Republican and Democratic committee staffers, employees of both Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Lamar Alexander. The Capitol Police were brought in, and the committee room was quickly cleared of every single one of these pesky shareholders. Here’s Michelle Malkin’s take.
This bizarre scenario, where constituents (and a new “Tea Party” senator) were treated with utter hostility by GOP “senior management” played out again, and again, and again over the years. Republican insiders grew more and more hostile the more insistent their shareholders got.
There are too many stories to recount: every activist I know has a vivid tale of disenfranchisement at the hands of local GOP officials. Remember how Republican campaign lawyers gamed the rules at the 2012 national convention to screw over Ron Paulites, Tea Partiers, and grassroots conservatives? Their goal was to maintain control should Ron Paul choose to challenge a President Romney in 2016. Now, those same rules are being turned against the establishment by Donald Trump. Oops. Remember the vicious tactics used by Republican lobbyists to protect Senator-for-life Thad Cochran in Mississippi in his 2014 GOP primary? Now Chris McDaniel, the state senator so relentlessly smeared by his own Party in that battle, serves as the State Chairman for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in Mississippi.
So if you are wondering why the GOP seems to be falling apart right now, all I can say is: I told you so. A takeover of some sort seems inevitable, because citizens today are on to the game. They know that Washington today only serves the special interests of insiders. They know what’s going on, and as shareholders, they are looking for new management. That’s a good thing, but I hope they get it right. In 2012, I anticipated the potential to get it wrong:
Why do we, in this day and age, keep looking for a better chief executive officer to solve our problems for us? We keep pursuing the quixotic hunt for a better benevolent dictator, hoping for change that we know can never come from the top down. Who is elected president matters, no question about it, but we will never restore liberty and the proper limits of government in America through a more ‘enlightened’ implementation of the expanded powers, real and contrived, of the executive branch of government.
You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?
Given where we are at, it seems like a great opportunity to build an opposition party that actually stands for liberty, and community, and the opportunity for each of us to succeed as we see fit. A national party that stands against the relentless expansion of government powers. Takeovers, done well, can reinvent failing enterprises, creating new shareholder value, and new customers. Out of all this disruption might emerge an opportunity for reinvention, one that respects the original source code that makes America, America:
Our Nation has always been about the autonomy of the shareholders, stakeholders with an unalienable property right in their shares of the company. Our nation is about the men and women in the streets, in their hometowns, lacking the proper lineage, having no family connections, and absolutely no pull with the man in charge. The citizenry is free, operating outside the top-down structures of hierarchical decision-making; independent of royals, emperors, kings, and czars… Each of us is endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the wildly radical notion that potentates, governors, crony corporatists, and any and all manner of rent-seekers, lever-pullers, influence-dealers, and earmarking hucksters shouldn’t get special privileges.
So buy Hostile Takeover. It really is a terrific book. It’s got all the best words. And it just might help you understand the sorry state of today’s Grand Old Party.
Author: Matt Kibbe