Monday, November 17, 2014

Decision 2014 - Cosmetic Surgery

Following the Republican route in the recent election, a liberal friend in New Mexico posted on Facebook that voters have short memories. 

Indeed he is correct.  Every six to ten years Americans throw Democrat bums out for Republican bums only to sweep the joint clean of Republicans to replace them with Democrats.

This brings me to the November-December issue of The American Conservative which features a cover story by Bruce Bartlett entitled “Obama is a Republican”.  Bartlett makes the compelling case that our President is the intellectual and policy heir of Richard Nixon and details how chillingly similar mainstream Republican and Democratic policies really are. 

For starters, the individual mandate, which is the lynchpin of The Affordable Healthcare Act was a conservative and Republican endorsed invention until the Democrats got ahold of it.  Bruce traces the mandate’s lineage from its inception at the supposedly free market Heritage Foundation. Washington, DC’s premier conservative think tank recommended a coercive, top down, centrally imposed remedy to America’s healthcare ills.  In 1989 they wrote:

“Under this arrangement, all households would be required to protect themselves from major medical costs by purchasing health insurance or enrolling in a prepaid health plan. The degree of financial protection can be debated, but the principle of mandatory family protection is central to a universal health care system in America.”

Over the following two decades the mandate was embraced by numerous prominent Republicans and was the cornerstone Governor Mitt Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts. 

Republicans and Democrats alike backed bailouts for reckless and irresponsible Wall Street cronies.  Both Bush and Obama put forward their own brand of Keynesian stimulus plans. 

Two consecutive Republican appointed Fed Chairman (Greenspan and Bernanke) inflated currency and economic bubbles at unprecedented rates.   And prior to Obama, the Republican Presidents Reagan and Bush 2 ran up record deficits.  Of course this was shrugged off by Dick Cheney when he remarked in 2004 that “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”.

On the topic of war and foreign intervention, the peace candidate Obama continued the Bush policies in the Middle East and grew more bellicose as time passed.  He was pushed hard by his own Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, whose hawkishness has won the admiration of prominent neo-cons.   

And before we leave the topics of war and finance, let’s not forget that when the Cold War ended, President Bush 1 did use the opportunity to scale back federal spending.  Instead, he mused about “reinvesting the peace dividend”.  He did so by going to war in Iraq and raising taxes despite his pledge not to do so.

The truth is that over the years, the Republican Party has done little to live up to its marketing position as the party of small, unobtrusive and limited government.

Beginning with their first term in power under President Lincoln, Republicans destroyed the concept of federalism and states’ rights by waging war on Southern secessionists. 

The next great Republican icon, Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive activist who had little regard for constitutional restraints.   Republican Herbert Hoover introduced an array of economic interventions that his successor, Franklin Roosevelt simply continued and rebranded as the New Deal   Like the individual mandate, many New Deal ideas were Republican inventions.

For sure there have been some outstanding individual small government Republicans over the years including Presidents Harding and Coolidge, Senator Robert Taft and Congressman Ron Paul to name a few.  Sadly, that wing of the party was overcome in the Sixties by the progressive Rockefeller wing which has been supplanted by a cadre of Trotskyite former Democrats deceptively called Neoconservatives

Neoconservative Republicans have no real interest in conserving the Founder’s ideals of individual liberty, free markets, limited government, federalism and foreign non-interventionism.

So my liberal friend is correct.  American voters will not get change that they can believe in this time around just as they didn't in 2008.  There was no heart transplant in D.C., only a face lift.

What Pete Townsend wrote 40 years ago holds true today:

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Sadly, we did.

Related Posts:

Consent Withheld – Election Day 2014
Losing Faith In Politics?


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"Half the people are stoned and the other half are waiting for the next election.
Half the people are drowned and the other half are swimming in the wrong direction."  
- Paul Simon