Friday, October 31, 2008

The Real Election Choice-“McBama vs. America”

Recently, Rush Limbaugh announced on his radio show his conservative strategy for this election. “First,” he said, “we save America from Obama, by getting McCain elected. Then we save America from McCain by defeating his policies.”

Sadly, this is what all of the past year and a half boils down to. The question is, though, should the order of that strategy be reversed? In other words, would it be easier to defeat Obama’s destructive policy initiatives, rather than McCain’s? I believe that clearly the answer is the former. Here’s why.

Both Obama and McCain share the same fundamental philosophical premises…that the individual is second to some “higher” cause or power. For McCain it is the “nation”, for Obama, the “collective.” Neither is a champion of individual rights. The difference is that Obama is an unabashed socialist. He is a clear target. McCain, on the other hand, is a murky target. That is because as the Republican, rightly or wrongly, he carries the banner of free market capitalism.

The danger is that a President McCain will discredit, demoralize, and split the pro-free market forces between those who feel obligated to support the GOP guy they voted for, despite bad policies, and those who oppose him on principle. The result would be a repeat…on an even larger scale, I believe…of the Bush debacle. President Bush is already being lined up by the Left as the next Herbert Hoover…a statist, interventionist, big-government president who nonetheless has been held up as an example of failed laissez-faire policies. This is a blatant lie, of course (more on the Hoover-Bush connection in a future post). Bush presided over the largest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ (Medicare drug benefit), a huge expansion in federal control over education (NCLB), a significant rollback of first amendment rights (McCain-Feingold, Faith-Based Initiatives), a large expansion of the EPA’s dictatorial powers (polar bear ruling), the largest expansion of business regulation in decades (Sarbanes-Oxley), an unimaginable explosion in federal spending, and now, of course, the runaway fascist bailout policies. He has brought the 20 year Reagan respite to a close, and presided over an explosive resumption of the century-old trend toward totalitarian socialism…while, like Hoover, being denounced as an example of failed free market governance!

Bush has done more damage to the cause of freedom in America than the Left could have ever gotten away with. And McCain will be Bush on steroids. He will “reach across the aisle”, engage in bipartisan compromise, and advance the Left’s agenda…while simultaneously undercutting free market capitalism.

With Obama in the White House and a Democratic congress, the Left’s agenda will take explicit center stage. This will open the door to a full exposure of the true authoritarian nature of their designs on America. Rather than sneaking their freedom-eroding agenda into law piecemeal under stealth cover of a Republican administration, the Dems will have nowhere to hide. The disparate elements of what today passes for the “Right” will present a solid wall of opposition. The key question is, will an effective, principled pro-capitalist, pro-individual rights opposition arise within the GOP? Or will the Left be able to move its destructive programs through an intellectual vacuum?

The best that can be hoped for…from the perspective of those who champion American ideals…is to stall the statist advance long enough to enable the emergence of that GOP movement. But that new GOP leadership, to be an effective antidote to the resurgent collectivist Left, must embrace two key provisions. First, it must put forward a positive alternative based on a principled, moral defense of free markets, capitalism, individual rights, and a government charged with the task of protecting, rather than violating, those rights. Merely being against the Left is a prescription for continued irrelevance. Second, it must break completely with the Christian Right, whose assault on the doctrine of church-state separation through the legal imposition of its religious agenda is as much a threat to constitutional liberty in America as is the Left’s socialist one. (I am talking here not of private Christianity, an unalienable first amendment right, but of political Christianity.) A GOP break with the Christian Right is vital to a pro-individual rights platform, because it would reaffirm the commitment to religious liberty in America.

I believe the best hope for the kind of Republican resurgence laid out above is with the kind of contrast of visions that can only be presented during an Obama administration. (Do not take this as any kind of endorsement of Obama. I have no intention of voting for him.) There is, of course, the danger of an Obama landslide, the coattails of which could sweep Democrats into a commanding majority in congress. This scarey scenario would leave even a united GOP minority too small and weak to block the Dems’ legislative initiatives. That aside, my stance has long been, and continues to be, to abstain from voting for president. I will, however, vote straight Republican in the congressional races. While the crop of candidates open to my choosing is abominable, my goal would be to keep the Democratic gains in congress as small as possible. When you’re playing electoral defense, it’s best to keep the congress as divided as possible.

An Obama victory could conceivably not be the kind of legislative bonanza the Left hopes it will be. This, admittedly, is a rather thin reed to hang one’s hat on. But hanging over the party will be the specter of 1966. Following the Johnson and Democratic congressional landslide of 1964, the flood of welfare-state legislation that followed precipitated a popular backlash. The apparent electoral mandate Johnson thought he had collapsed, amid a Republican mid-term onslaught in 1966. That election halted President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society legislative momentum entirely, and began a trend that would culminate in the rise of Ronald Reagan and the 1980-2000 economic revival and stall-out of the statist trend.

Of course, a lot of damage was done in the 1965-66 liberal interlude, which saw the start toward socialized medicine (Medicare-Medicaid) and the colossal “War on Poverty” failure. The GOP resurgence ultimately collapsed on a failure to build on the inconsistent, incomplete…yet positive…pro-growth, pro-producer “Reagan Revolution”. Indeed, the GOP instead morphed into “big government conservatism”. Just one example; One of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin’s self-described gubernatorial “achievements” was to “take on the big oil companies”. How did she do it? She looted them in as brazen a fashion as any Democratic socialist. She imposed a huge new tax on oil production in her state, to “fund” a $1200 per person “rebate” to the citizens of Alaska! (Contrast that with Obama’s puny $500 looters “rebate”) John McCain, for his part, promises to “take on the big drug companies”. We can only guess what that assault on private, productive American citizens might mean. “Windfall” profits taxes, anyone? Wealth redistribution? Socialism? As John Lewis so aptly put it, “Republicans have learned to love the welfare state”.

One important issue that has been flying under the radar screen until recently is the issue of judicial appointments. An article in the Wall Street Journal lays out the strategy of an Obama administration. In essence, Obama would appoint judges who adhere to a legal theory that would substitute “social justice” for actual justice, turning the constitution from a document that protects individual rights while limiting government power into a vehicle for government-imposed wealth redistribution…i.e., universal enslavement. While the danger in the Obama strategy of advancing a socialist agenda through the courts cannot be overstated, the fact is that this is a continuation and logical consequence of the ongoing statist trend of the last 100 years or so. That trend is rooted in our culture’s embedded altruist-collectivist-pragmatist ideas, which can only be countered by a resurgence of the individualist-capitalist-reason axis…the Enlightenment remnants of which are slowing fading.

Statism has been advancing in a myriad of ways, and in direct contradiction to the constitution, without Marxist judges who have “the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.” What are Social Security, Medicare, welfare, the federal highway bill, farm bill, foreign aid, public education...but wealth redistribution? That trend will continue with or without them, under either McCain or Obama, until the dominant philosophical and moral doctrines are expunged from the culture.

This year’s election will be the first of my ten presidential ballots in which I abstain from pulling the presidential lever. The battle for America’s future is no longer defined by a tug-of-war between the two major parties, if it ever was. The road ahead is clear…and it takes us straight onto the battleground of fundamental ideas. It is a battlefield marked by two indistinguishable, and bankrupt, statist political parties on one side, and a virtual intellectual vacuum on the other. That vacuum must be filled by the kind of principled, pro-reason, pro-capitalist movement that Goldwater and Reagan gave us a tantalizing glimpse of, but that never took root during the GOP resurgence of the past few decades.

The consequence of that failure is summed up nicely in this October 25, 2008 NJ Star-Ledger letter-to-the-editor, written by W.P. Haller of Martinsville, New Jersey;

I cannot imagine that three contributors to the Oct. 22 Reader Forum have been paying attention to what has been happening in this country the last few months. From "protect(ing) this country from taking the path toward total socialism" and "arguments that slide us ever so subtly into socialism" to "on the road to a completely socialist society," they would have us believe that electing Barack Obama is a direct line to socialism in America. Well, guess what, folks, we're well on our way there already -- with a Republican president leading us there like a parade marshal. Right now, the U.S. government (read: taxpayers) is a stakeholder in banks, insurance companies and who knows what else (automakers and airlines?) before this whole financial mess is cleaned up. Get used to it because that scary future is here.

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