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Localism is the 21st-century replacement for centralized Washington controls.

The next big movement in modernizing government is going to be localism. The age of big bureaucracies is over; the age of you being in control of most of your own life is just beginning.

This will be an enormous change from the ever-more-centralized bureaucratic pattern of the last 150 years. From the middle of the 19th century on, three forces drove government toward more and more centralized bureaucracy.

First, there was the elite belief that expert knowledge and large systems of information and analysis were superior to the decentralized efforts of individuals. After all, it was thought, professional educators were inherently superior to parents, and professional health providers were clearly more effective than individuals; and similarly, professional analysts coolly manipulating large amounts of information would create better outcomes than uninformed citizens.

Second, information used to be very expensive to acquire and organize, and larger organizations had more powerful and more efficient information systems than individuals or small organizations. The advantage of a General Motors or a Social Security Administration lay chiefly in their efficiency of gathering and using information.

Third, the elites wanted to impose on citizens a centralized worldview and value system very different from the one those citizens had grown up with. This desire by elites to impose new norms was as strong in America as it was in Italy or France or Russia.

Today, all three of these pressures for centralized bureaucracy are being undermined and reversed.

First, parents have turned out to be the most important asset in educating children. As professional teachers fail to meet expectations, they increasingly point to parents as the key to learning preparation. In health, patients have become the key to managing chronic conditions. Doctors and nurses are vital in an emergency, or in dealing with critical diseases (e.g. heart attack, cancer), but chronic conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, addictions, etc.) require the active participation of the patient. And of course, local communities often know more about solving local problems than distant Washington bureaucrats with centralized information but no local knowledge.

Second, the cost of information gathering, analysis, and storage is collapsing. Go to Google. Look at Apple Maps. Look up hotel and airline information on Kayak. Browse Amazon. The cost of information is declining and the ease of access is accelerating. Huge, invisible global structures are necessary to sustain this information age, but our relationship with Google or Facebook is very different from our relationship with a Washington bureaucracy.

Third, people are increasingly angry at centralized governments’ attempts to impose policies and values that they reject and resent. In virtually every western country, there is a growing populist movement against the elite values and elite bureaucracies, which people increasingly see as problems rather than solutions. It is no accident that the American people said in a recent Gallup poll that government is the greatest problem facing the country. The failure of centralized bureaucratic systems is being accelerated by the growing gap between the manual-typewriter-based models at the heart of traditional bureaucracies (which were developed at about the same time as the typewriter) and the stunning speed, complexity, and effectiveness of smartphones and tablets.

Contemporary bureaucracies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs find themselves falling farther and farther behind people’s expectations of speed, accuracy, and convenience as the modern world changes and they remain trapped in the culture and systems of an obsolete past.

Think about the convenience, efficiency, and personal choices that increasingly define your life outside government.

If you want cash, you can go to any ATM virtually anywhere in the world for the amount of money you need when you need it, in the local currency. When you go on Facebook, you get personalized content based on your network of friends. You and a wide range of friends have an ongoing electronic community, which you sustain at your convenience and under your own control.

When you need a ride, in more and more cities you can choose between traditional cabs and Uber. The cars show up on your smartphone app and you immediately know how many Uber drivers are nearby and how long it would take for one of them to pick you up. You get billed automatically and you can rate your experience, so there is continuous feedback.

If you want to fly, you can go to a variety of sites and look for schedules and prices to your heart’s content 24 hours a day. No one pressures you to pick a particular airline or go to a particular city. You are in control. If you need to shop, you can go to Amazon for virtually any item and it is delivered within two working days.

Compare that speed, efficiency, accuracy, and convenience with virtually any bureaucracy you know.

Shifting power from Washington and from the state capitals and moving it back toward local control and local decisions will be one of the great patterns of the next decade and will accelerate for at least the next half century. As people have access to more and more information with greater speed and convenience, they will assert the right to make more and more decisions for themselves, or with their neighbors.

As the sunlight of accurate information is focused on bureaucracies, it will become increasingly obvious how out of sync with the modern world they are. What we need now is an emerging school of local control and local initiative to develop the programs that will transfer power out of the capitals and back to the people.

Note that we are not advocating federalism. Federalism moves power from Washington bureaucracies back to state bureaucracies. That is a useful first step, but it is not sufficient. In all too many states, the state government interferes with and micromanages local communities fully as much as Washington does.

We are advocating a far bolder transformation than simply shifting from one central bureaucracy to 50 state bureaucracies. We are advocating the transfer of power wherever possible all the way back to individual citizens and letting them work with their neighbors to creatively build new solutions and stronger communities.

We believe a localized America that encourages 315 million citizens to be problem solvers and local leaders will be far more creative and dynamic than a shift from one bureaucracy to 50.

We are proposing to take the seriously the Constitution’s reliance on “we the people” and once again trust people to create true self-government. That can only happen by devolving power from bureaucrats back to citizens at the local level.

— Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer and author of the forthcoming Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan. Newt Gingrich is a former presidential candidate and speaker of the House of Representatives.

Jeb Bush’s Life Story: Can It Connect With Voters?


By Craig Shirley – March 28, 2015

One of the wisest and funniest men I’ve ever known, Vic Gold, shrewdly observed in 1988 that Dan Quayle was all wrong as a running mate for George Bush because the Indiana senator had no real life story to tell—that he’d never fully grown up. The same could not be said of the veteran Republicans passed over by Bush, mostly notably Jack Kemp and Bob Dole.

Longtime Bush aide James A. Baker was asked by a snarky reporter if Bush had taken Quayle because he could not pick one of his own sons. Baker, grinning, merely shrugged his shoulders. Baker had been against Quayle all along, but had lost this round to advisers who convinced the vice president that Quayle represented some kind of generational Holy Grail.

That calculation did not pan out, but Bush won anyway—in spite of Dan Quayle, not because of him. Vic Gold did not intend for his judgment of the callow Quayle to sound cruel. He just believed that little in Quayle’s life’s experiences would resonate with other Americans. For one thing, his story lacked the hardships, sadness, and even tragedies that most people know.

Quayle, as of 1988, still had both parents, grew up rich, and had never seen war or poverty or disease. He’d never lost a business or a child. He’d never gone through that experience which instantaneously changed him from boy to man.

Ronald Reagan had the Great Depression and his own father’s alcoholism; Carter was tested in the Naval Academy, his military service, life on a farm. John F. Kennedy had serious health issues, and near-death combat exploits in the Pacific, as did Jeb’s father, a daring bomber pilot in the Navy who, when he returned, set out for fame and fortune in the wildcat oil fields of West Texas. John McCain was another naval aviator and POW—a real American hero. Bill Clinton’s story of a broken home and a struggling but loving mother touched millions.

As of Dan Quayle, much the same can be said of Jeb Bush. At 62, this lucky man still has both his parents. He’s never served in the military, lost a business, lost a child. There was a tragedy in his family, but he was a baby when it happened: In October 1953 his older sister died but he was only six months old. Significantly, his older brother, George W. Bush, remembers his parents’ grief well and he too was deeply affected.

Many of Jeb Bush’s Republican rivals, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, grew up poor. Ted Cruz just told Americans his story of poverty and his father finding a faith that saved their family. Rand Paul does ophthalmological charity work in the Third World and Bobby Jindal’s is a story of struggle and success overcoming prejudice.

Suffering is not only good for the soul and for Southern writers (including yours truly) it also turns out to be good for presidential candidates.

Political consultants like a candidate who has a story to tell because it makes it easier to write the feel-good bio ads that help them connect candidates with voters—and vice versa.. But I’m talking about something else. Jeb Bush seems like a good man with natural empathy for other people. But that’s not always enough. John Kerry was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, but he never demonstrated the compassion necessary to win. Still, it’s better to have suffered adversity and overcome it than never to have faced it at all.

Generally, these challenges aren’t as dramatic as the searing decision by McCain—the son of a ranking U.S. Navy admiral—to remain in his Hanoi hellhole rather than give the North Vietnamese a propaganda victory by accepting an early release. The problems faced by candidates can be as mundane as Mike Huckabee’s struggle with his weight or as deeply personal as Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum balancing the demands of the campaign trail with those of a special-needs child.

One point of these examples is that almost all people face some tribulations is life, even if these demons are kept private. So we can’t presume Jeb Bush’s life is as charmed as it seems from the outside. But as the 2016 campaign season arrives, it’s certainly fair to ask whether Bush has enough real-life experience to truly understand what everyday Americans want and need. Does his easy path through life give him the maturity and depth necessary to do the job wisely? The question was also relevant to Mitt Romney, who also led an insular existence and also missed out on military service, though both he and Jeb were of Vietnam-era draft age.

Franklin Roosevelt had a charmed life, too—for a while. He hid the effects of polio from the public, just as he glossed over the strains in his marriage. But these trials helped him connect with his countrymen.

The American presidency has never been only about the American president. It is about the American people and what the individual who occupies the Oval Office is going to do for the citizenry—even if that is only to appeal to the better angels of their nature, as Lincoln did. Or simply to get government off their backs, which was Reagan’s mission.

Most of us can point to that pivotal moment when they grew up. For me, it was the phone call while in college, informing me that my father had died. With others, it was war or divorce or an unwelcome midnight call or knock on the door with heart-stopping news. But whatever the seminal event, it changed their character and made them sturdier individuals.


Craig Shirley is the author of two best-selling books about Ronald Reagan, including “Rendezvous With Destiny” and “Reagan’s Revolution.” He is also the author of the best-selling “December 1941; 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World” and is the president of Shirley & Banister. He is now writing several more books about Reagan, including “Last Act.” He has lectured at the Reagan Library, is the Visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Reagan Ranch.

Reagan Biographer: ‘Elements’ of Gipper in Several GOP Hopefuls


Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 01:13 PM

By Courtney Coren

Craig Shirley, a biographer of former President Ronald Reagan, said that he sees several of the likely Republican candidates for president “ascribing to the Reagan mantle.”

“The interesting thing about the 2016 field is that it is what you would call a target rich environment,” Shirley told J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Khan on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV Tuesday.

“There are actually very many good men and one woman (potentially) running for the nomination, and it’s probably the most impressive field since 1980 when Ronald Reagan won the nomination and then won the presidency,” he contends.

“I see elements of Reagan in [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker, I see elements of Reagan in [Kentucky Sen.] Rand Paul, I see elements of Ronald Reagan in [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz and [Louisiana Gov.] Bobby Jindal as well,” he explained.

“They are all, except for one, [Former Florida Gov.] Jeb Bush, of course, they’re all ascribing to the Reagan mantle,” he said. “Nobody’s ascribing to the Nixon mantle or the Bush mantle or any other mantle.”

Cruz was the first to announce his plans to run for president in 2016, which he did Monday from Liberty University.

Conservative commentators such as The Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein and Matt Lewis from The Week have argued that Cruz is actually more like President Barack Obama than Reagan.

Shirley says that may be true “at a very kind of superficial level — he’s only been in the Senate for two years, he’s Yale and Princeton, he’s an ethnic minority. But beyond that, in terms of his outlook of government, his outlook of his personal character, his belief in the rule of law, all those other things combined he’s very much unlike Barack Obama.”

Shirley’s Reagan biographies include “Reagan’s Revolution”, “Rendezvous with Destiny” and “Last Act”.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul campaign launches illustrate vastly different media strategies

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The varying extents to which technology and social media are changing some election strategies are reflected by the vast difference between Ted Cruz’s and Rand Paul’s official presidential nomination kickoffs.

“The new media are the game changer for Paul and Cruz,” said Steve Michael, Missouri-based campaign consultant. “Both are seen as younger and utilize the new media — Facebook, Twitter and others — that some in our party still struggle with, at least to their full ability.”

But social media — however good for spreading the candidate’s message and raising money — are not the holy grail for most campaigns, political pros warn.

“In party primaries, technology can amplify and codify that special candidate-voter personal connection, but for the successful candidate, it won’t replace it,” said David Paleologos, Suffolk University Political Research Center director.

Presidential historian Craig Shirley noted that “back in Reagan’s day, social media was six reporters drinking with a campaign’s press secretary at a hotel bar.” And, back then, candidates considered the national press indispensable to their campaigns from the moment of formal launch on to the happy or bitter end.

Mr. Cruz said Monday on the “Hannity” show that he will go over the heads of the press establishment and straight to the American people. At the same time, Mr. Cruz cast himself as the next-best thing to a President Reagan.

According to Mr. Shirley, in November 1979 Ronald Reagan unofficially announced his candidacy to millions of Americans in an interview with an unfriendly Tom Brokaw on NBC’s “Today” show in New York, and then made the official announcement at a ritzy Waldorf Astoria fundraising dinner that night, to which the press was invited.


Continue reading Ted Cruz, Rand Paul campaign launches illustrate vastly different media strategies

Ted Cruz declares candidacy, vows to ‘reignite the promise of America’

– The Washington Times – Monday, March 23, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced Monday that he is running for president, making him the first official candidate in the 2016 race for the White House.

“I believe God isn’t done with America yet,” Mr. Cruz said during a speech at Liberty University, sending a strong signal that he plans to compete for the evangelical Christians that traditionally play a big role in the GOP nomination race.

“I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise in America,” he said. “And that is why today I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States.”

The big question for Mr. Cruz is whether he can build a big enough coalition to claim the mantle of the conservative alternative to the establishment candidate in a Republican race that will likely also feature former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“He potentially can rebuild the Reagan coalition by adding a populist, anti-Washington message that attracted disaffected Democrats and Independents,” said Craig Shirley, a biographer of President Reagan.

Liberty University was founded in 1971 by the late Jerry Falwell, the televangelist preacher who also led the formation of the moral majority that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency in the 1980 election.

Mr. Cruz is running near the middle of the pack in early national polls, behind Mr. Bush, Mr. Walker and Mr. Paul, who is planning to enter the race early next month.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist, said Mr. Cruz has a “narrow” path to the nomination.

“For Cruz to have a legitimate shot at the nomination, he has to become the preeminent candidate for both grassroots conservatives and social conservatives, which means he has to elbow out the darlings of social conservatives — Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ben Carson,” Mr. O’Connell said.

Mr, Cruz has won kudos from grass roots activists for the way in which he has stood up against members of both parties. He has been one of the sharpest critics of Obamacare and has slammed the Obama administration’s approach to immigration and foreign policy.

“Imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare,” Mr. Cruz said on Monday, sparking applause from the crowd.

In his speech, Mr. Cruz called for a flat tax on income, abolishing the internal Revenue Service, and securing the nation’s borders.

Mr. Cruz touted religious liberty, pro-life policies and traditional marriage, as well as Second Amendment gun rights and his desire to “repeal” the K-12 education standards known as Common Core.

He also promoted the nation’s ties to Israel, and said Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon under any circumstances.

A graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, Mr. Cruz served as solicitor general of Texas, arguing several cases before the Supreme Court.

Mr. Cruz was joined by his wife, Heidi, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, and his two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine.

Democrats wasted no time offering a mock welcome as the outspoken conservative entered the race.

“As the de facto leader of the Republican Party in recent years, it is only fitting that Ted Cruz would position himself in front of the GOP’s 2016 presidential field,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, adding that Mr. Cruz’s “determination to oppose and obstruct any and all attempts to help the middle class is the embodiment of what’s wrong with the Republican Party.”