Nov 09 2008

Very, very cold comfort

Category: economy,election 2008,healthcareharmonicminer @ 10:05 am

George Will offers cold comfort at the end of his piece assessing the election in historical context.

………….
Although John McCain’s loss was not as numerically stunning as the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater, who won 16 fewer states and 122 fewer electoral votes than McCain seems to have won as of this writing, Tuesday’s trouncing was more dispiriting for conservatives. Goldwater’s loss was constructive; it invigorated his party by reorienting it ideologically. McCain’s loss was sterile, containing no seeds of intellectual rebirth.
…………..

As this is being written, Republicans seem to have lost a total of 55 House and 11 Senate seats in the last two elections. These are the worst Republican results in consecutive elections since the Depression-era elections of 1930 and 1932 (153 and 22), which presaged exile from the presidency until 1953. If, as seems likely at this writing, in January congressional Republicans have 177 representatives and 44 senators, they will be weaker than at any time since after the 1976 elections, when they were outnumbered in the House 292-143 and the Senate 61-38.

…………….

Still, the Republican Party retains a remarkably strong pulse, considering that McCain’s often chaotic campaign earned 46 percent of the popular vote while tacking into terrible winds. Conservatives can take some solace from the fact that four years after Goldwater won just 38.5 percent of the popular vote, a Republican president was elected.

The conservative ascendancy that was achieved in 1980 reflected a broad consensus favoring government more robust abroad and less ambitious at home — roughly the reverse of Tuesday’s consensus. But conservatives should note what their current condition demonstrates: Opinion is shiftable sand. It can be shifted, as Goldwater understood, by ideas, and by the other party overreaching, which the heavily Democratic Congress elected in 1964 promptly did. [emphasis mine]

The problem, from the perspective of conservatives, is this: 1932 marked the beginning of Democratic ascendancy leading to the Social Security system, 1964′s elections led to Medicare and Great Society, and 1976′s led to the fall of Iran to Islamic extremists, the Carterization of our military, etc.

Of COURSE the Left will over-reach again. It can’t help itself. Obama has shown no ability or interest in resisting the Left-most tilting of the most radically Left Democrats in his party, and those who put him in office will be expecting payback, and they will get it.  The press will not love him unconditionally forever, as they have during the campaign, and will for a few months more, at least.

The Right will be back.  But as I’ve written before, the damage the Democrats can do in even a single term of “unified government” is very large, and two terms gives them time to lock in a course that is virtually impossible to change.  Remember those Star Trek episodes where somebody has locked the navigation controls of the Enterprise to go to a certain destination, and it is simply impossible to undo the change?  It’s just a bit like that.  Sure, we can take the ship back.  But we’ll still be heading for the Delta Quadrant.

1932 led to Social Security, which some may still think is a good idea, but which ultimately has been poisonous to our society, because it encouraged dependency, poor planning, people retiring while they were still productive, and it has provided a bottomless well of money for Congress to waste on OTHER things for years (WHAT “social security trust fund”…  you’re kidding, right?), but for which the bill is about to come due in a HUGE way, as the boomers retire, and younger people find out about the Faustian bargain that was made by their grand-parents and great-grand-parents.

1964 led to the Great Society, the effect of which was to create a permanently dependent urban underclass, largely black, incentivized to be non-productive and to think itself unable to thrive on its own without government help, leading to a 70% black unmarried birthrate and a huge majority of fatherless homes; and Medicare, which has been one of the biggest levers driving healthcare prices higher and higher (along with the notion that medical “insurance” should pay for routine minor medical care…  about like paying for car insurance that covers tuneups and oil changes, guaranteed to hugely boost the price of both).

Some will point out that 1964 also led to the Civil Rights legislation, and that’s true.  But it’s also true that strikingly higher percentages of Republicans than Democrats voted for it, so this cannot be chalked up to a victory of Democrat government.  And, in any case, the Civil Rights Act preceded the Democratic landslide (both presidential and congress) 1964 elections that led to the 1965 establishment of Medicare and the Great Society programs.

1976 led to a president who made no attempt to help Iran avoid an Islamic extremist government, and who made America a laughing stock around the world for his ineptness in dealing with the hostage crisis in the American embassy in Tehran.  And while Carter deserved some credit for the Egypt/Israel accords, even that was mostly Sadat’s initiative (not a response to Carter’s policies), in contrast to Reagan’s policies actually having a large effect on the crumbling of the Soviet Union.

So sure, the Republicans can get power back at some point:  the question is how much damage will have been done by the Left, and how many newly intractable and irreversible realities will be in place due to Democrat-created entitlements that the public comes to see as its due?

We seem destined to go down the road that Europe has already proved is a dead end.

There are a couple of other factors, however, that may mean the Republicans will not “be back” for quite some time.  Nothing recognizably like the Republican party as it has been can even hope to gain the ascendancy again if the Democrat reign succeeds in the following:

1)  ending secret balloting for unionization, by pushing through union card check (allowing union goons to appear at your front door and to “invite” you to sign…  very persuasively, of course) and bringing back the old terror tactics of labor wars not seen since the 1930s, when labor and employers each hired thugs to strongarm employees into submission.  It may not be clear to younger readers, but while union members can vote for whomever they choose in congressional and presidential elections, the unions themselves use union dues to back uniformly Democrat candidates.

2)  legalizing large numbers of formerly non-voting (we wish) illegal aliens, and making them beholden to Democrats by essentially buying their votes with entitlements.

3)  trade protectionist legislation (if the USA is re-unionized, it will be difficult for even a Republican congress and presidency to reverse this without unacceptable repercussions).

4)  creating yet another entitlement, health care, so that more people will be dependent on government.

5)  the “fairness doctrine” to silence dissenting voices from the Democrat majority, heard mostly on talk radio (strictly speaking, this would be reversible by Republicans, eventually, but it’s listed here as something that would militate against their ever having the chance).

6)  ACORN style registrations (without successful legal challenges, possibly tossed out by Left-leaning judges appointed by Democrats) of more and more voters who stand to receive from the government, but don’t pay much in the way of taxes, and have not traditionally voted in such large numbers.

Mr. Will’s comments are very, very cold comfort.

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