COLORADO, September 9, 2012 — In the 1970s and 80s people complained that our two big-tent political parties seemed too much alike. This is no longer the case. Beginning around 1992 the Democrat Party has been remaking itself along the lines of a European socialist/labor party.
Last week in Charlotte we saw that the transformation is now complete.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete.” – Darth Vader
A DNC video proclaimed at the opening of the convention that “The only thing we all belong to is Government.” Really? Mitt Romney might have been channeling Ronald Reagan when he tweeted in response:
“We don’t belong to government, the government belongs to us.”
At least, that was America’s thinking at the founding. These days, one of our two major parties believes—and openly states—that we are all part of the collective.
“Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination is irrelevant. You must comply.” – The Borg Collective
In his acceptance speech Thursday, the president—who affirmed in his speech that “I am the President”—told us his vision for his second term and for the future of our country.
“I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country — goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation,” he declared.
“The force is strong with this one.” – Darth Vader
He’s asking for government planning, for a centrally-planned economy. Who can now deny that the policies of this man and this party are collectivist? The policies go by various names—socialism, democratic socialism, fascism, corporatism, progressivism, liberalism—but it is all the same thing. The shades of difference are only of interest to academics.
In every case, the government knows better than you do, better than we together in the marketplace do. This collectivist philosophy has worked so well in the past.
Recently I attended a talk by Yuri Maltsev, economist and former advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev. He told a number of stories from the old Soviet Union, this one from an experience visiting the Ukraine.
He sees a man standing in line at a shoe store. The shelves are bare.
“What are you in line for?” Maltsev asks.
“They’re going to sell shoes,” the man answers, as if the answer should be obvious.
“I don’t know?”
“What kind? What sizes?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.”
In actual fact, it didn’t matter. The man standing in line was right. The rubles in his pocket were worth nothing; if he could buy shoes with them, he had something of tangible value that he could trade for something else.
That is the reality of socialism.
In his speech the previous evening, former President Clinton urged a vision of shared prosperity. The reality has always been that socialism results in shared misery. We’ve had a taste of that already in the last four years. Who’s up for more?
Free market economics and the idea of limited government by and for the people were not the only things on the chopping block last week. God, religion, and the capital of Jerusalem were out of the party platform, too. At least they were until the party leaders decided that the political heat was too great and ordered that they be put back in.
Three times they called for a voice vote, and three times the vote seemed to fail. The only thing missing, my wife noted, was the cock crowing. But “The Ayes have it” was apparently already on the teleprompter and so it was deemed to have passed.
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader
The party of new ideas seems to have run out of them, or at least to have run out of new ways of packaging the same old ones. Take for example Obama’s oft-repeated desire to tax our way out of this economic mess by taxing the wealthy. Nothing new there: under FDR, the top tax rate reached 90%.
Progressive Party candidate Teddy Roosevelt said this:
“We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.”
It’s TR’s statement of the New Nationalism—and it was new in 1910 when Roosevelt made the case for it in a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, on August 31. (PDF transcript of speech can be found in related entries above)
It is not new now and the intervening century has shown again and again that progressive politics just builds up debt with nothing to show for it. The dollar of 1910 is worth less than a nickel today. Throughout that time, Progressives have tried hard to show that their policies were not socialist, that they were some sort of third way. But as my mother was fond of saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
So is the road to serfdom. Results matter.
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