Book Review: Restoring the Republic by Devin Nunes (WND Books, 2010).
I am not quite sure how best to approach a review of Devin Nunes’ book, Restoring the Republic. Nunes, the U.S. Congressional representative for the Central Valley’s 21st District, was recently named one of the “40 under 40” politicians to watch by Time magazine. One can only assume Time made this call before reading Nunes’ recently published book.
Restoring the Republic reads much like an episode of Glenn Beck’s show without the theatrics. Nunes basically follows the right-wing playbook. He offers nothing new of substance and, in fact, comes off as something of a lightweight intellectually. He uses name-calling (e.g., referring to his opponents as Marxists and communists) as a substitute for facts. And he ignores the almost certain negative outcomes of his radical agenda on our national economy and the pain and suffering that it would cause the American people.
Nunes frames his work with the bizarre pronouncement that the real threat to America lies with “the convergence of big government, big business, and the radical left in Washington.” Putting aside for a minute that you couldn’t pay big business to be in the same room with the “radical left” (however one defines it), Nunes goes on to reference a number of other “threats” to our republic. Indeed, he seems much more concerned about the loss of the mythic republic of our forefathers than with ensuring democracy for our citizenry.
Nunes finds environmentalists particularly offensive. He claims that “green radicals abandoned the principles of a clean, healthy environment many years ago. Today, they are seeking a radical agenda that seeks to replace capitalism with a Marxist utopia.” Even though such hyperbole was deemed so offensive that even the Fresno Bee took him to task for it, Nunes seems to take the Bee’s criticism as a badge of honor. Moreover, he refers to those who recognize global warming/climate change as a doomsday cult. Oddly, though, in his zeal to point out the perceived failures of green energy, he outs the oil companies for “deceptive advertising to promote their ‘green credentials.’”
Nunes further asserts that “nuclear energy is entirely safe.” He says that activists justify opposition to nuclear power using the example of Three Mile Island, about which he says, “Equipment malfunctions, design problems and worker error resulted in a partial meltdown of one of the reactor cores.” What would prevent any of those problems from occurring again, especially in an environment where profit is god and regulation is the devil?
Moving on to economics, Nunes intends to bravely take on what he calls the Big Three: Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. He advocates privatizing Social Security for those under age 55, but he doesn’t want us to call it privatization. With healthcare, he suggests that the government give people money to spend on private-sector insurance. Wouldn’t that be corporate welfare?
In a bit of a time warp, Nunes expresses his passion for Ronald Reagan’s favorite economic theory, the Laffer curve. You may remember that even George Bush (senior) questioned the efficacy of that model, calling it “voodoo economics.”
Nunes wants to implement a “fair tax,” which would replace all federal taxes with a national sales tax of 20%–30%. He further suggests eliminating all state taxes to be replaced with a 10% state sales tax. Let’s put that plan in perspective: A nickel candy bar (I’m not that old, and I remember the nickel candy bar), which now costs $1, would suddenly jump in price to $1.40. Research has repeatedly shown the sales tax to be one of the most regressive tax structures. This “fair tax” might be more appropriately called the “Screw Poor People Tax.”
On foreign policy, while misspelling Colombia (yes, the country) twice, Nunes states that “we need an offensive strategy that dedicates funds and manpower to spreading freedom, attacking our enemies, and keeping America and her allies safe.” That sounds like a plan for wars on multiple fronts that never end.
One quote from the book seems to pretty much sum up Nunes’ worldview and his apparent detachment from reality: “Marxists, Maoists, socialists, fascists, and now radical environmentalists all have one common denominator: they seek to centralize and enhance government power in order to control the people.”
Ever the optimist, I did find a passage near the end of Restoring the Republic with which I agree, wholeheartedly in fact: “Americans must demand their representatives offer concrete solutions, not empty political rhetoric. The responsibility rests with you, whenever you vote…So judge politicians not by what they say, but by what they do.” Devin Nunes is asking that he be held accountable. Let’s take him up on that.