Sat, Dec 24, 2011 | Rubinreports | By Barry Rubin
In The Liberal-Conservative Debate Where’s the Common Sense?
It never ceases to amaze me — especially since I seem to be one of the very few people pointing this out — that both liberals and conservatives in the American debate are missing the most important point, the essential but simple argument that spells the difference between victory and defeat, right and wrong.
This is what Obama thinks. Wealth is a zero-sum game. Anything America has was stolen from others. Proof? Obama said so himself.
What people on both sides don’t understand is that it is the historical situation and not an eternal ideology that makes for the right policy. What was appropriate for a time when the United States didn’t have enough regulation and government was too weak is not appropriate for a time when the United States is overregulated, government is too strong, and the country is ridiculously deep in debt.
For example, Theodore Roosevelt was a great president and what he did was right and necessary. But that was a century ago. It is most telling that President Barack Obama in making a speech for what amounts to statism tries to pretend he is a man who is dealing with a situation in which the federal and state governments were helpless against massive corporate monopolies and when neither any serious government regulation nor effective trade unions existed!
In other words, Obama is running the country and running for office as if it were 1912, not about to be 2012. He is trying to convince people that massive greedy rich corporations that hate big government (like General Electric, General Motors, and all those green job con-men?) control the country. These millionaires wear big top-hats and smoke cigars as in some left-wing cartoon from 1912.
A lot of conservatives seem to think that to explain where the country is going wrong and fix it they have to prove that Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt were completely wrong.
There is such a thing as balance. America’s rapid industrialization after the Civil War put the system out of balance and threatened to wreck the country’s constitutionally-mandated system. Robber barons, monopolies, exploitation of labor, the buying and selling of legislatures, were all commonplace. Only due to reforms, largely backed by Democratic presidents before most of us were born, was the balance corrected. The modern prosperity and progress of America has been due to a combination of Founding Fathers’ constitutionalism, largely free capitalism, and a government able to carry out reasonable levels of regulation.
A proof of that fact is that few conservatives sought to rollback all the pre-1952 innovations. And the same applies to such later initiatives as civil rights along racial and gender lines or the main and much needed environmental legislation following the discovery of just how much America’s water and air had deteriorated.
Yet the governmental machine just kept going beyond the point of reasonable balance. More and more; further and further. The books of regulations grew and grew, strangling the society, trying to perfect ever-smaller faults at an ever-higher price. When was the turning point? The War on Poverty and Great Society of the 1960s? The ascension of Obama in 2009? The precise date isn’t so vital. What’s important is that things just went too far.
And with Obama, the radicals-pretending-to-be-liberals took over.
And so we now live in a period in which the spending of trillions of dollars for no return is excusable, the desperate situation of Social Security is ignorable, and the Obama Administration refuses to build an oil pipeline from Canada, bans drilling, and piles up costly regulations to ensure no moose ever stubs its toe.
If conservatives only realized what I just said and explained that to the American people they would win the next election by a landslide. Instead, people are pushing a permanent philosophy and that horrifies many historic liberals who will vote for Democrats and Obama. After all, this empowers propaganda that the Republicans want to turn the clock back a century or two. What is most needed now is not ideology but common sense.
For example, has throwing money at public schools made education better, or made it worse? How many of the spending programs justified by alleged good intentions, nice promises, and moral-sounding goals actually bettered the lot of poor and disadvantaged people, rather than created cushy jobs for decidedly non-poor and advantaged bureaucrats, inefficient unionized government employees, and recipients of grants for doing little or nothing?
So let’s be non-ideological serious people. Has the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, and all of the other bureaucrats and red-tape worked or not? Was the taxpayers’ money well-spent or thrown away? Are alleged good intentions and worthy causes just covers for sophisticated corruption and theft? Patriotism was once the last refuge of scoundrels. Today, that’s been replaced by claiming to save the environment, benefit the poor and downtrodden, and impose social justice through the redistribution of wealth (i.e., gimme!)
To paraphrase Obama’s key patron, unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.
Thus, applying common sense does not mean that the bland centrist way is the best campaign theme. In confronting a terrible imbalance strong measures are needed that include serious cutbacks in government, regulation, and spending. The oldest successful theme in the book is to run against corrupt Washington bureaucrats and special interests who are ripping off the taxpayers.
Isn’t there any potential leader who can explain this, not by watering down his program but by putting it in the context of a return to a workable system? So far, apparently not.
Yet it is vital to remember — as most American voters do subconsciously — that neither liberals nor conservatives, Democrats or Republicans are innately correct due to their membership in such categories. They are only right when the policies and ideas they propose are beneficial and workable for the country. That is how American voters should judge in 2012. If they do so there will be a new president in the White House. If they don’t it’s because you haven’t explained things very well.