The race for the Republican Party presidential nomination is essentially over. The GOP apparently has decided Mitt Romney is the answer. Unfortunately, that means the question must be pretty dumb.
Not that Barack Obama is a better answer. Both Romney and Obama are enthusiastic advocates of America’s bipartisan statist consensus. More government, all the time and in most every way.
The United States government was created as an institution of limited, enumerated powers with a duty to preserve individual liberty. Those who wrote the Constitution and the citizens who ratified that document vigorously debated what authority was to be placed into whose hands.
However, the Leviathan which now exercises its power around the globe has far outstripped its intended role. The so-called Anti-Federalists, who opposed the Constitution, were proved right. The government created would eventually slip its constitutional fetters. Indeed, today the Constitution has virtually no relevance to federal operations. Presidents and Congresses do what they want with nary a nod to the national government’s legal charter. The court challenge to ObamaCare may be the last gasp of those seeking to preserve the original design of limited, enumerated powers.
Over the last half century the rise of America’s welfare/warfare state has been inexorable. And bipartisan. Although politicians on both sides of the aisle like to pose as defenders of constitutional liberties, leaders of both parties have consistently supported more expansive government. Despite the odd exception here or there, members of America’s political class have enthusiastically promoted the relentless growth of government.
This year will be no different.
Most Democrats don’t even voice the verities of limited government and individual liberty. Their answer to every problem is to raise taxes. In their view, there is no human vice which should not be fixed by the national government. Moreover, government is supposed to enrich business and every other interest group.
Democrats also believe in international social engineering—through war, if necessary. There may be a few genuine pacifists on the Left, but they possess no political power, while the Lyndon Johnsons, Bill Clintons, and Barack Obamas bomb, invade, and occupy other nations whenever the Zeitgeist strikes.
Only in one area does the Democratic Party seemingly believe in freedom: to have sex. People can be prohibited from smoking, making contracts, and speaking incorrectly. Their money can be seized and wasted for the most bizarre and ludicrous purposes. People can be conscripted and forced to kill. However, Americans must be allowed to have sex, preferably with publicly subsidized contraceptives. That is, for Democrats, the essence of a free society.
President Obama enthusiastically and eloquently represents the modern Democratic Party.
Most Republicans, in contrast, chatter endlessly about their commitment to limited government and individual liberty. And the majority of Republicans prefer not to raise taxes. But there the differences with Democrats end. When it comes to most practical policies, the disagreements quickly vanish into nothingness.
For Republicans, only a few human vices should not be fixed by the national government. Like smoking. But Uncle Sam should crusade against other drugs, battle the scourge of pornography, and make us all moral. Moreover, government is supposed to enrich business and other favored interest groups, only those which contributed to the GOP instead of the Democratic Party.
Republicans who denounce welfare at home ironically insist on it abroad—defending prosperous and populous allies lest the Europeans, Japanese, and South Koreans, for instance, be forced to defend themselves. The GOP also believes in international social engineering—through war, if necessary. The Neoconservatives are Wilsonians on steroids, with leaders like Sen. John McCain who rarely find a country that they do not want to bomb, invade, and occupy. The lack of any conceivable national interest only excites the martial fervor of the Republican Sofa Samurai, most of whom consciously avoided military service. Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who famously said that he had “other priorities” during the Vietnam War. As, apparently, did Mitt Romney.
When it comes to sex the Republican Party is divided. A few members actually don’t believe it is the government’s business. However, the GOP is full of leaders with multiple marriages engaging in multiple affairs who lecture everyone else about the importance of sexual morality. Some true believers advocate sending cops into bedrooms to monitor who is having what kind of sex with whom and spending tax dollars to promote chastity and marriage. At least the GOP has come to understand the principle of individual liberty when it comes to forcing others to subsidize law students who want to have sex without paying for contraceptives.
Mitt Romney is an exemplary symbol of the modern Republican Party.
On what issue do Obama and Romney disagree?
President Barack Obama is a big spender par excellence. On no program does he not want to spend money and his latest budget, presented as an exercise in fiscal restraint, would more than double the accumulated deficit over the coming decade. He masterminded a federal takeover of people’s health care futures and his bureaucratic army of paternalists continues to press to turn individuals’ lives over to the state.
The president believes in the same approach overseas: continued nation-building in Afghanistan, militarized social engineering inLibya, perpetual alliances in Asia and Europe, and foreign “aid” all over. Despite occasionally verbalizing concern over maltreatment of West Bank Palestinians, the president has effectively turned his Mideast and especially Iran policy over to Israel. Finally, the administration continues to play global meddler. Indeed, as Washington’s debt soars the administration sends Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to lecture the Europeans about dealing with their financial crisis.
As Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney was a middling big spender, earning a “C” on the Cato Institute’s gubernatorial spending rating. As such, he fits well within GOP tradition: President George W. Bush was a true big spender, increasing outlays on virtually every program, creating the largest expansion of the welfare state (the Medicare drug benefit) in four decades, implementing massive bailouts of Wall Street, banks, and industry, wasting cash on an ineffective “stimulus” program, and squandering a surplus which had been projected to run into the trillions over the following decade. Although candidate Romney talks about cutting spending, he backed the 2008 financial bailouts, defends the Ponzi Social Security system, and refuses to identify meaningful cuts in the $3.6 trillion federal budget.
As Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney masterminded a state takeover of people’s health care futures, while advocating expansion of that policy to the national level. He did nothing as governor to suggest that he would halt the federal government’s pervasive assault on individual liberty. To the contrary, he backed a state mandate for contraception benefits like President Obama’s national rule.
Finally, Mitt Romney is an even more rabid adventurer overseas, supporting (at least until recently) misbegotten nation-building in Afghanistan, proposing to meddle in the Syrian imbroglio, and breathing fire not only against Iran but also China and Russia. Moreover, Romney explicitly promised to subcontract U.S. Mideast policy to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that he would do nothing without the latter’s approval. Romney appears determined to turn the secretary of state into an even bigger pest than normal by telling everyone everywhere how they should behave; worse, he apparently believes that the rest of the world actually would supinely comply with his dictates. Mitt-World: Washington’s fondest fantasies magically transformed into reality.
This is not the first election in which the choices are atrocious. The main difference between the major party candidates in 2008 was that Barack Obama appeared to be more determined to spend money but less enthusiastic about global war-making. Sen. John McCain admitted that he knew nothing about economics; his main foreign policy program was to kill foreigners, at least those who resisted Washington’s demands.
In 2004 President George W. Bush had proved himself to be a big spender and incompetent war-monger, but Sen. John Kerry was an even bigger spender and was only against the Iraq war, not foolish wars in general. Four years before that Vice President Al Gore looked to be the bigger spender and more avid war-monger, but President Bush seized those mantles once inaugurated.
And so it goes throughout much of America’s recent history.
Only one thing is clear about the 2012 race. Neither President Barack Obama nor former Governor Mitt Romney can be trusted with Americans’ liberties. Both are likely to be big spenders bent on promiscuous and dangerous war-making abroad. Romney is more likely to articulate the principles of a free society, but he also is more likely to disappoint those who actually believe in the principles of a free society.
Both candidates have spent their careers promoting America’s bipartisan statist consensus. Never mind what they say. Watch what they do. They are dedicated to expanding government all the time and in every way.
And so it will continue unless the American people take charge. As long as they elect profligate warrior wannabes, their liberties and lives will be at risk. Americans have the power “to begin the world over again,” Ronald Reagan often said, quoting Thomas Paine. Now would be a good time for them to renew their political system.