2009 is going to be an interesting year, particularly in the USA. Big State Democrat Barack “The One” Obama crushed Big State Republican John “I Support the Bail Outs” McCain and this means the country is going to have a new president whose politics make him the most committed statist since LBJ. The country was given a choice between statism and statism and it voted for… statism.
Well to quote Mencken, the American electorate are going to get what they voted for good and hard, because this is also the year the global economy is truly going to crash, big time, plunging us into a recession and indeed a depression that will last longer and be driven deeper by the policies being implemented by governments on both sides of the Atlantic.
And this presents friends of liberty with a great many opportunities.
Never has there been a better time for cleaning house. The usual excuses given for pragmatic ‘broad church’ politics no longer apply on the so-called ‘right’… no amount of unity will change the fact that regulatory tax-and-spend politicians will be in charge for the next few years regardless of what people of a classical liberal disposition do. And so I would strongly urge such people to get into politics like never before, not primarily to fight the statist left just yet, but to create opposition parties that are actually worth voting for.
In short, I am calling on anyone who believes in liberty and limited government to reject all thoughts of party unity and work tirelessly to drive the statist right from their parties.
I am not calling for the ‘libertarianisation’ of the Republican party along the lines I would actually like, just for the party’s rationalisation. I am in essence calling for a nominally conservative party to become… conservative. The simple fact is that people can be fellow travellers on a path that leads to liberty without all marching in ideological lock-step. It just boils down to asking the question “do you want the state to have less control over people’s lives or more control?” If a person can honestly answer that they think the state is too powerful and needs to be reduced, that is a fellow traveller. This is the time to apply that test to Republican politicians, every last one of them… and drive any who fail that simple test out of the party by whatever means necessary. Now is the time for a figurative internal ‘Night of the Long Knives’. This is the opportunity to destroy a great many political careers and remake the Republican Party into the party of constitutionally limited government and to start fighting the culture war that the party should have been fighting since the day Ronald Reagan left office with his job only half done.
Lest people think I abominate Reagan, I do not and he must be judged within the context of the Cold War (and winning thereof), and so the inconvenient fact the military build up actually increased state spending need not be glossed over. What Reagan did do, and what gives him lasting appeal to those of us who value liberty, was that he actually did fight the culture war with a veritable litany of quotable remarks in praise of smaller government. It is hard to overstate the importance of that as part of the long process.
But the biggest failure of Reagan, and indeed Thatcher, was that they did not establish ideologically motivated party cores to build on their successes. They acted as if their successes were so self evident they did not need to be defended, let alone built upon in the future. That Margaret Thatcher let Norman Tebbit destroy the Young Conservatives was perhaps her biggest of several mistakes as it more or less guaranteed the party would vanish into a pointless intellectual void resembling one of David Cameron’s apertures.
Reagan’s big mistake was made at a much higher level, namely his choice of vice president. People voted for George “Read my lips” Bush because they thought he was a continuation of the Reagan ‘Revolution’ (hyperbole I know)… and they voted his patrician butt out of office when he turned out to be nothing of the sort. That a significant number of Republicans never got their head around that key dynamic is the root cause of many of the party’s problems today. Instead a great many accepted their enemy’s analysis that Bush Sr.’s defeat was a rejection of Reagan’s legacy and ultimately why a ghastly candidate like John McCain could ever have got the nomination.
What is needed is a return to the ideologically driven and highly successful Reagan days, but happily without the distorting bipolar reality of nuclear superpower rivalries to worry about. Compared to the Soviet Union, the threat posed by Islamic terrorism is nothing more than the yapping of an annoying poodle, albeit one with rabies. Face it, it was the Cold War and fears over his hawkish foreign policy leading to nuclear Armageddon that did in Barry Goldwater, the best president the USA never had.
So now is not the time for Republicans to spend most of their efforts pulling together against The One in the White House… no, it is the time to rip the Party apart, ruthlessly and quickly, so that it can eventually become something worth uniting around. Oh sure, put the boot into Obama at every opportunity as this is also the time to fight the culture war without cease or apology, but the most important thing now is for Republicans to get their own party in order and that will require some extremes of disunity to achieve.
But this all needs to be done sooner rather than later, at the juncture where the Democrats are unassailable and party unity is frankly pointless. Pull out the political knives on Inauguration Day as a way to take you mind off the nauseating waves of sanctimonious kack radiating across the media caused by Barack Obama’s living beatification. Concentrate instead on the much needed massive internal political bloodletting and leave Obama and his Congress to do their worst as in truth there is nothing the Republicans can do to stop them anyway.
The economic crisis needs to be re-branded for a start: this is not, and never was, a ‘crisis of capitalism’, it is in fact the ‘crisis of regulatory statism’. John Maynard Keynes said “in the long run we are all dead”… well sadly for the Keynesians of all parties, the long run has finally arrived as it always does with Ponzi schemes. The lesser evil, the easy option, is no longer a viable option at all and the sooner the failures of the past are not dealt with by more of the same, the better.
It does require a measure of courage however and the first act of courage needed is to cut the Republican Party to pieces and rebuild it without the cancers that grew during the Bush dynasty.
Although I will wish you one, do not expect a Happy New Year.