Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Don't Have to Love McCain

I'm obviously a big fan of Senator McCain; have been since fairly early in the primaries. At a closed door meeting for supporters in NH with no media in attendance Senator McCain, having just come off a Republican debate where the candidates had all taken a number of shots at Senator Clinton, opened the meeting by stating that he respects Senator Clinton and would not attack her personally. Then he said, "you have to remember this is all about love," and I nearly fell off my chair. He got a big ovation, and it points to one of the reasons I am such a big fan of the Senator. It isn't always good for his campaign, but he has a good heart; and even if one disagrees with him on issues they can be comforted by the fact that he will listen to and respect those who disagree with him.

Part of what I like about Senator McCain is what many conservatives don't like about him. He does break with his party, he's not an ideologue, he is uncomfortable in launching political attacks. So the argument to many, whether they are to the left or to the right of Senator McCain, is not about loving him him or his policies, but it's about respecting him and recognizing him as qualified. He is what he is, and he has a long record that he can be judged on.

The alternative would swing the country dramatically to the left. The alternative has a cloudy record at best, and a radically leftist record at worst. Associations with people like Wright, Ayers, Rezko, Johnson, Reins, and Khalidi, leave serious questions about the judgment and philosophy of the Democratic nominee.

In an article by Mona Charen Is This the End of Conservatism?, which also should be titled 'Is this The End of Moderation and Balance?', describes some of the plans Democrats are putting together to not only to move the country to the left, but to change the rules so that Democrats will always have an advantage. While this may sound good to some Democrats, stacking the deck is not an appropriate or Democratic way of implementing policy changes.
In the first place, the Democrats can, with a super-majority, change the rules of the game. They can make the District of Columbia the 51st state with two new senators (guaranteed to be Democrats in perpetuity). They can reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine that required radio stations to provide equal time to all political viewpoints. While the doctrine was enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, radio stations shied away from politics altogether. With the demise of the doctrine, conservative talk radio flourished. Liberal talk radio has never found much of an audience. Reviving the doctrine would kill one of the principal irritants to liberals and Democrats -- to say nothing of disemboweling the First Amendment.

To elect a super-majority of Democrats at a time of economic dislocation is to flirt with depression. Nearly all economists agree that two moves by the Hoover administration deepened and prolonged the panic of 1929 and turned it into the Great Depression. One was raising taxes and the other was imposing protectionist trade policies. Senator Obama proposes to do both of those things. Obama's smooth reassurance that only the top 5 percent of earners in America will see their taxes rise is a) almost certainly false, and b) besides the point. If the most productive members of society -- those who create the majority of jobs -- are taxed we will have fewer jobs. It's the old rule that if you tax something you get less of it. While Obama is killing jobs by taxing the productive, he proposes to "renegotiate" NAFTA and other trade deals thus putting the one bright corner of our economy, the export sector, in his crosshairs.

Obama has a million schemes to redistribute the wealth of the top 5 percent, (who by the way, already pay more than 50 percent of the taxes in our steeply progressive system). He wants to provide college for "anyone who wants to go and agrees to perform community service," and community development block grants, and childcare, and universal pre-school, and housing, and retirement and on and on. He seems determined that more people will ride in the wagon than pull it.

"Well," you may say, "if the Democrats drive the country into a deep recession, so much the worse for them. The Republicans will come back strong -- even with two senators from DC!" Perhaps. But in hard times people tend to ask for more government, not less, and this tumble started while George W. Bush was in the White House. Franklin Roosevelt continued to invoke the boogey man of Herbert Hoover long after the Depression was his own. In fact, Democrats used Hoover successfully for 40 more years!

Finally, there is a one-way ratchet in public policy. Liberal reforms are never undone. How hard have conservatives tried to eliminate the Department of Education or subsidies to public television? Would they have more success uncreating a new nationalized health care system?

An Obama/Pelosi/Reid regime -- if it were to get a filibuster-proof majority -- will certainly be able to shift the country's direction sharply to the left. The only question is -- would the shift be permanent?

You Don't Have to Love McCain

No comments: