Sunday, January 24, 2010

Republican Socialism, Obama's Second Term and the Tea Parties

The Obama presidency is so far a failure. Obama's bailout of money center banks and Wall Street coupled with his corrupt stimulus package amount to the largest effluence of waste in world history. This is the pattern that destroyed Athenian democracy and the Roman empire. In the case of Rome, Septimius Severus in the second century gave large benefits to the Roman army. Rome had long before adopted a welfare system that allowed the citizens of Rome free bread and circus. The Roman system was stable and took several centuries to decline. Rome's scale was the cause of both its stability and its decline as Rome was essentially a Ponzi scheme that depended on ongoing conquest. The extraction of wealth by interest groups contributed. In the case of Athens, the second greatest democracy in the history of the world, imperialism, its war with Sparta, and class warfare led to its failure.

Now, America is weakened by socialism of both the Roman and the Athenian varieties. The war on terror is a legitimate challenge, but the Bush administration handled both the Afghan and Iraqi wars incompetently, resulting in excessive cost. Fourth generation warfare, the use of embedded special forces, should have been adopted early on, but Bush preferred to defer to the second generation warfare concepts of Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. In any case, the two wasteful wars were coupled with subsidies to Wall Street, the TARP plan and the bailout of Goldman Sachs, AIG and other money center banks.

In a free economy these institutions would have been put into chapter 11, reorganized, the management replaced and the firms split up into more manageable components. This would have been done by bankruptcy courts. The opposite policy of direct subsidization and federal intervention, i.e., socialism, was pursued at the behest of the Republicans and George W. Bush. The Obama administration added some pirouettes, but the basic socialist policy and a large portion of the socialist spending was directly due to George W. Bush and the national GOP leadership, from Newt Gingrich to Karl Rove.

The recent victory in Massachusetts suggests that Americans are upset but that their views are confused. If Americans are upset about the bailout, why did they not question Scott Brown's position on the bailout? In 2000 America elected George W. Bush expecting a conservative, not a socialist. Now, they vote for Scott Brown without asking whether he too is a socialist.

Now that health care has stalled, my 2008 claim that Obama was chiefly elected to put the bailout into place increasingly looks true. Not that John McCain wouldn't have done it too, which raises significant doubts about the GOP at the national level. What makes the GOP different from the Democrats? In other words, in the end there may have been little difference between Obama and McCain.

Both would have given trillions of public money to banks and Wall Street and done little else. At the state and local level, yes, the GOP is still the smaller government party. Not so at the national level. The national GOP leaders are big government Progressives.

In 2012 Obama will have the advantage of incumbency, and if he now transitions to a more libertarian posture, which is what Clinton did, he is likely to win in 2012.

Perhaps the position of Scott Brown on the bailout seemed unimportant this month in light of the threat of the health plan, which served to galvanize the public, including many non-Republicans. If Obama is smart, he won't allow a repeat of the health care fiasco. He will avoid further drama and focus on reducing cost, winning the two wars and balancing the federal budget.

Had Al Gore pursued the Clinton strategy in the 2000 election he would have won. But he rejected Clinton's approach in favor of New Deal social Democracy. He lost.

Oddly, the GOP took Bush's election to mean that it should return to the Progressivism of Nelson Rockefeller and Theodore Roosevelt. It remains a puzzle why Newt Gingrich and his colleagues adopted a big government mindset, but the GOP only can win if it rejects it. Let me repeat that. If the GOP wants to win, it needs to adopt a small government mindset. The social conservatives coupled with the neo-conservative big business socialists were not enough to win the presidency. They won't be in future.

The rank and file in the GOP need to find new candidates to run. The 2008 leadership was entirely in favor of Wall Street socialism and big government and so is tainted. But in order to find new leadership, the rank and file needs to take action. The Tea Parties are playing this role, but I remain unconvinced, at least at the national level.

The Tea Parties have not demonstrated the ability to focus on key issues and resist the cooptation that the GOP's establishment will attempt. I will be delighted if they do, but so far few national leaders have emerged. While the Tea Parties can play a useful role at the state and local levels, it is at the national level where the GOP has floundered worst, and I have yet to see national level deliberation that reflects the ability to overcome the national GOP establishment and Obama.

1 comment:

Rusty Shackleford said...