In 1964, Lyndon Johnson scored a landslide victory over Barry Goldwater to become President of the United States. He had long “coattails”, bringing with him huge congressional Democrat majorities. The Old Left rose to power, for a short while. But, it was long enough. Over the next two years, a massive statist lurch to the Left shook the foundations of Americanism. In the brief 1965-66 time span, we got Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Student Loan program, the War on Poverty, and other Great Society programs.
By 1966, the country had had enough, and Johnson’s socialist momentum broke up in the wreckage of that year’s Republican midterm electoral landslide. But, the damage had been done to individual rights and capitalism.
I reflect back to that period because of the striking similarities between then and the past couple of years. In 2008, Barack Obama won a modest victory over John McCain, but nonetheless carried with him to Washington huge Democrat congressional majorities. This time, it was the New Left – the 1960s “student rebellion” gang – that swept into power. Unlike the Old Left, which (at least superficially) hung on to some respect for what America stood for, the New Left has no such loyalty. It is virulently anti-American in the most fundamental sense – it utterly rejects the concepts of unalienable individual rights protected by a government limited to that responsibility. Led by this nation’s first unabashed, undiluted counter revolutionary president – that is to say, counter American Revolution – the Democrats built upon the statism of the prior Bush Administration to forge a massive bureaucratic buildup of regulatory powers that is about to unleash a perpetual tidal wave of increasing controls over every aspect of our lives.
To call Obama/Democrat policies a major regression towards a totalitarian state would not be an exaggeration.
In 2008, I abstained from a presidential vote, and stated my reasons. (I did, however, vote Republican in the congressional races in hopes of blunting the Democratic gains and thus Obama’s agenda.) Subsequent events have vindicated that decision. A McCain presidency would have continued the stealth statism of the previous Bush Administration, preventing the rise of the rebellion we now call The Tea Party Movement. At the same time, a McCain Administration would not have prevented the emergence of an Obama. It would only have delayed it. This would have meant an Obama inheriting an even more statist government than the one handed to him by George W. Bush.
The 2009/10 statist assault on America parallels 1965-66, although it is even more virulent and aggressive now than then. And, like then, the country has, once again, had enough after only two years. Also like then, the damage has been done. In 1966, the “swing to the Right” set in motion the momentum that would lead to a conservative revival that would sweep Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980, and Republicans into full or partial control of Congress for most of the next quarter of a century after that.
Today, the fundamental issues confronting America have been brought into the sharpest focus of my lifetime. They are: A rights-protecting government vs. one that rules over a mass of subjects and serfs, capitalism vs. socialism, individual rights vs. group “rights”, individualism vs. collectivism.
The last swing to the Right that launched in 1966 ultimately failed. I explained how and why two years ago. By 2000, despite two decades of conservative political dominance, the Old Left statism of 1965-66 had been preserved – and even gently expanded. The 20th Century’s strongest “swing to the Right” ended by having been nothing more than a Republican caretaker government – of the welfare state. This set the stage for a strong renewal of the assault on our rights under Bush II, followed by the Obama eruption.
Today we face a much more critical choice, because we are so much further down the path to totalitarian socialism now than we were 44 years ago. It’s no longer a matter of stopping the welfare statists. The Old Left gave us more or less specific, delimited programs. The New Left has given us an imperial bureaucracy wielding unlimited, arbitrary powers that can not be contained. Though this situation did not come out of the blue, but is the logical culmination of the trend that began more than a century ago, the fact is that our government has finally broken free of virtually all remaining constitutional and moral constraints on its monopoly power of legalized physical force. A totalitarian Frankenstein is on the loose.
Therefor, it’s long past time to sweep aside conservatism in favor of a radical pro-individual rights, pro-capitalist agenda that logically means rolling back and eventually eliminating the regulatory welfare state. There is no other way to cure an aggressive, malignant cancer except to completely – and I mean totally – cut it out before it kills the patient.
That will require time to build the proper philosophical foundation, a project that has barely, though effectively, begun. To buy that time, Obama, like Lyndon Johnson, must first be stopped. That can be accomplished by electing enough Republicans to congress to shrivel the Democrats’ majorities to the margins or even giving one branch to the GOP. Divided government means little major legislative “progress”, which is about all we can hope for from today’s mushy GOP. Time, again, is what we must buy.
Therefor, this is the time to vote Republican without a second thought.
I am under no illusions that the Republicans are anything but the intellectual weaklings they have almost always been, or that the current crop can reverse the tide. Just check out their lame “Pledge to America”. And, the GOP carries within it a danger of equal magnitude to Left collectivism – the Religious Right. On the other hand, there are hopeful signs that the party can be molded into an effective force for Americanism, over time. For one thing, we have the Tea Party Movement that, despite its own statist baggage, nonetheless has a significant “sense of life” that leans toward individualism. For another, Ayn Rand Objectivism, though still relatively unknown, continues to penetrate the culture (which includes a strong piece of the Tea Party). We desperately need it, and ideas can spread without people being aware of from whom they originated. Good ideas ultimately can, and must, win the day.
The battle for America will be long and hard. Obama charged into power vowing to “fundamentally change America”. By that he meant unwinding its Founding principles, which he believes are “flawed”. We Objectivists will not settle for the same old failed conservative strategy, which amounts to preserving and protecting the statist “gains” of the previous “swing to the Left”. Contrary to conventional wisdom, President Obama knew full well that the aggressive socialist push of his first two years would likely cost him his Democrat congress. He didn’t and doesn’t really care. His fundamental change has been achieved, and now he can sit back and watch the “moderate” Republicans preserve and consolidate those gains, as they percolate through America.
It’s 1966, again. Or, maybe not. Perhaps things will turn out different, this time.
The Democrat collapse follows closely on the heels of the Republican collapse of the past two-four years. Both major parties are bankrupt intellectually and politically. Both are at rock bottom in public esteem. Both liberalism and conservatism are discredited. The country is swinging wildly between the lesser of two evils, with the GOP being the current winner-by-default. As a consequence, the country is ready for new ideas and a truly new direction. Therein lies the opportunity.
Ayn Rand’s influence has grown substantially since 1980. The 1960s New Left is at peak political power under Obama/Pelosi/Reid. Objectivism is growing towards becoming the leading secular philosophy in America. Collectivism/socialism is the echo from a dead past. Individualism/capitalism is the future. Objectivists aim to fundamentally change America in the opposite direction, reclaiming America’s Founding principles and going further: fully and consistently implementing them for the first time, on the solid philosophical foundation provided by America’s Last Founding Father – Ayn Rand.
To advance toward that ambitious goal, the first step is to vote Republican on November 2, 2010.