Commentary

Obama Is a Statist, Not a Socialist

Pres. Barack Obama is not a socialist. He is a thoroughgoing statist, perhaps the worst in American history. And with Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, he’s got some serious competition. Republicans in Congress lack the leadership to challenge the president’s audacious power grabs. More important, they lack any serious philosophical basis for doing so. The acronym RINO is an oxymoron, for the name “Republican” in fact designates someone with a commitment to nothing more than maintaining political power. The purpose of maintaining that power is to, well, maintain that power.

There is a reason sales of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged are going through the roof. The book is nothing if not prescient. The “Troubled Assets Relief Program” is straight from its pages. Monday’s New York Times front page suggests Atlas may be starting to shrug. “Doctor Shortage Proves Obstacle to Obama Goals,” laments the headline. Hmm. Wonder why there would be a doctor shortage in the face of nationalized health care? Perhaps bright young people considering a career don’t want to work for the federal bureaucracy?

Time for those conservatives serious about limited government to re-read Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. Strategically, conservatives have made three major mistakes. The first was to follow the advice of supply-side guru (and big-government Democrat) Jude Wanniski and not talk about spending cuts, much less the proper role of government. Economic growth replaced individual liberty as the rallying cry of far too many GOPers. Second, the neocons — mostly statists themselves — should never have been accepted into the fold. All they give us is a war against a country that never attacked us and schemes for “national greatness” like going to Mars. Enough. Finally, conservatives should jettison the social agenda of gay marriage, flag burning, and school prayer, and focus instead on federalism. Politics is about man’s relationship to the state. That relationship, to be healthy, should be minimal.

Edward H. Crane is the president of the Cato Institute.