To those who found my latest post a bit too dark: Don’t be lulled into thinking this nightmare is happening just because we finally elected an orthodox Marxist who won by conning us into believing we could keep our own doctor and our own insurance policy – and save a lot of money – under socialized medicine. (Not to mention the various cons on Benghazi and foreign policy.) No, our President is just the last step in the American Counter-revolution.
While a case could be made that our first “progressive” (i.e., leftist) President was Teddy Roosevelt, or Wilson, or even Hoover, the big picture analysis begins with FDR – not just the alphabet soup of governmental agencies and his left-of-Keynes fiscal and monetary policies, but his interventionist strategy. The FDR agenda was advanced by a slowly-forming iceberg whose tip, when it finally emerged in the persons of Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss and their ilk, turned out to have been merely the more-visible part of a leftist mass whose scope was never grasped by the American public and was actually obscured, rather than exposed, by the pathetic efforts of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
While much has been made of LBJ’s advancement of FDR’s agenda, the dirty little secret is that LBJ was hardly alone in advancing the leftist cause. When it comes to the fiscal and monetary policies that are the sine qua non of leftist social policy, Ronald Reagan, the ultimate conservative icon of American politics, was actually a major contributor, in absentia, to the transition of the US to the leftist agenda. Despite the substantial power and leverage that he assembled through the combination of his personal popularity with conservative economic policies (initially-high interest rates, coupled with reduced taxes and reduced regulation), Reagan undercut his own economic successes by yielding to the temptation to buy leftist support by acquiescing in many costly elements of the Democrats’ agenda – resulting inevitably in large deficits and large increases in the national debt. Not that Reagan was anything but a phenomenal success, a great conservative President who propelled a 20-year period of unprecedented American prosperity and world leadership, but he squandered a glorious opportunity to halt the runaway growth in the size and cost of our national government.
After Reagan, Bush 41, despite solid efforts to hold down the debt (“read my lips,” etc.), eventually caved-in on tax policy, and of course Bush 43, despite the huge success of his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, was AWOL when it came to deficit-spending; the large deficit for fiscal 2009 (his final budgeted year), though inflated by the costs of the financial rescue and bailouts and by the first Obama “stimulus,” was particularly un-conservative. Clinton’s fiscal reputation (not unlike his general reputation) is better than it deserves to be: his air-brushed image as a fiscal conservative is based upon decent results during his last 3 years, achieved in each case through the Gingrich budget cuts (which Clinton fought nearly to the death) plus drastic cuts in defense spending.
No, the sad truth is that leftist fiscal and monetary policies, in active or tacit support of leftist re-distributionist policies, have been with us since long before the election of President Obama and have been baked into the behavior of both of our political parties and into the expectations of much of the general public. Accordingly, those policies will be excruciatingly hard to unwind. The mere election of a Republican President and Congress will not be nearly enough to un-do the damage and will guaranty neither an appropriate replacement of ObamaCare nor a return to a stable, markets-based environment of true economic growth. We could well be beyond the point where a counter-counter-revolution might still be possible.