Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
They Said It:
But I saw a grim smile pass over the seared visage of a stately old commander, – by his warworn figure and rich military dress he might have been one of Napoleon’s famous marshals, – who, with the rest of the world’s soldiery, had just flung away the sword that had been familiar to his right hand for a half a century.
“Ay! ay! grumbled he. “Let them proclaim what they please; but, in the end, we shall find that all this foolery has only made more work for the armorers and cannon founders.”
“Why, sir,” exclaimed I, in astonishment, “do you imagine that the human race will ever so far return on the steps of its past madness as to weld another sword or cast another cannon?”
“There will be no need,” observed, with a sneer, one who neither felt benevolence nor had faith in it. “When Cain wished to slay his brother, he was at no loss for a weapon.”
“We shall see,” replied the veteran commander. “If I am mistaken, so much the better; but in my opinion, without pretending to philosophize about the matter, the necessity of war lies far deeper than these honest gentlemen suppose. What! is there a field for all the petty disputes of individuals? And shall there be no great law court for the settlement of national difficulties? The battlefield is the only court where such suits can be tried.”
“You forget, general,” rejoined I, “that, in this advanced stage of civilization, Reason and Philanthropy combined will constitute just such a tribunal as is requisite.”
“Ah, I had forgotten that, indeed!” said the old warrior, as he limped away.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Earth’s Holocaust,” 1846.
WILL A RISING SUN AWAKEN A SLEEPING GIANT?
For years now, political observers on both sides of the ideological divide have insisted that the biggest mistake that Osama bin Laden ever made as the leader of a burgeoning theocratic movement was to attack the United States on 9/11. Prior to those attacks, America was perfectly willing to live with a little terrorism here and a little terrorism there. Bomb the World Trade Center parking garage one day; blow up a couple of embassies the next; blow a hole in a naval cruiser the day after that. And the Americans will respond tepidly, lazily even. They’ll have to do something, of course, but that something will be incredibly weak. They may blow up an aspirin factory, slap some sanctions on a host government, or make a big show of putting an old blind man in jail. But they won’t do anything serious or aggressive or, heaven forbid, “warlike.” They’ll just take their lumps and then move on, assuming that a little indigenous resistance is the inevitable cost of a global presence in a changing world.
Moreover, if you don’t crow about too loudly, the diversity-besotted Americans will welcome Muslims and Muslim organizations that sponsor terrorists with propaganda and money to their neighborhoods and universities, and even to an occasional dinner and photo op at the White House. And the Left will make a special accommodation for them within the unwritten laws of political correctness, thus protecting their “rights” from anyone in authority who might question their devotion to freedom and peace.
Attack the homeland, however . . . . Blow up the World Trade Center; blast a hole in the Pentagon; kill 3,000 people . . . then you have a problem. Even the languid Americans will then be roused. In short, when bin Laden attacked on 9/11, he awoke the proverbial “sleeping giant,” compelled Americans to get serious about Islamic terrorism and to recognize that they were at war with Islamism, whether they liked it or not. In turn, then, he precipitated two full-blown wars, cost himself and his movement two safe havens, and brought the full force of the world’s most powerful greatest military ever down on the cities and the hills of Afghanistan and, eventually, Iraq. Like the Japanese before him, Bin Laden, erred in thinking that the Americans would take an attack on their homeland lying down. Or so the theory goes.
Now, we understand why this “blowback” theory has its backers. Indeed, for a while – many years, in fact – the theory seemed perfectly sound. Bin Laden did, in fact, provoke an unprecedented response. The United States did topple two sympathetic regimes, one of which was harboring al Qaeda. Eventually, the Americans did find and kill bin Laden himself. Moreover, several of the most aggressive agents to foreign terrorism who were operating in the nation’s universities and Muslim “charities” actually were put in jail. All of which suggests that the “sleeping giant” was roused and did respond angrily.
The problem, though, at least from the perspective of those of us who would like to see Islamist terrorism defeated, is that this giant, big and angry though he may have been, was also quite soft. He could get riled, in other words, but he couldn’t maintain his eagerness to find and punish those who had disturbed his sleep. He grew tired quickly and then lost interest in the fight. Worse still, this inability to focus, this incapacity to see projects once begun through to their completion was anything but a surprise. It was, rather, utterly predictable from the start.
The contemporary American way of fighting wars is not especially conducive to total victory and, in some ways, preordains failure. Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, liked to pat himself on the back for what has been called the “Pottery Barn” rule of foreign policy, i.e. “you break it, you bought it.” According to Bob Woodward, Powell warned President George W. Bush with respect to the invasion of Iraq that “You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You’ll own it all.”
This approach to war has two principal shortcomings. First, it is unlikely to produce the type of decisive success necessary to prevent the enemy from ever attempting to resume hostilities. Second, it has a tendency to induce fatigue in the ranks of the would-be victors. In practice, then, this means that the enemy – in this case the Islamists, at least – is never thoroughly defeated, never completely broken, while the big, lumbering Americans get bored almost instantly, distracted by the glow of the new i-phone or the latest app and tired of seeing their boys and girls die in far-off hellholes. And so the victors give up without ever achieving victory and the vanquished find themselves un-vanquished, allowed to live, to regroup, and to return to the fight. It happened in Vietnam. It happened in Iraq the first time. And it happened in Afghanistan and Iraq the second time. Bin Laden may have earned himself a one-way ticket to paradise and the use of 70 virgins, but his movement wasn’t crushed, his cohorts weren’t defeated, and the previously sleeping giant simply went back to sleep.
Bin Laden, for all his failures as a leader and a visionary, was right about one thing. To switch from our metaphor to his, the United States is, in many ways, a “weak horse,” unable or unwilling to finish its race and to achieve victory. The strong horse, by contrast, persists, thrives, and attracts others to itself. As things stand today, therefore, Islamism is alive and well throughout the Middle East, West Africa, and Central Asia. Even after two wars, two toppled regimes, and the death of bin Laden himself, the Islamic State thrives; the Iranian mullahs push onward to nuclear hegemony; the Taliban sit poised to recapture Afghanistan as the Americans abandon it and perhaps to take Pakistan as well; and the Islamic jihad against the West appears stronger today than it ever has. And in the face of all of this, the Americans – the one people who could have fought and won this war against radical Islam – have, more or less, given up the fight and gone home.
So now, we ask again: was bin Laden stupid? Did he pick the wrong fight?
To be honest with you, we’d be hard-pressed to make that case today. Rather, it seems to us that he knew exactly what he was doing, that he read the American political class almost perfectly. Weak horse. Tired of the race. Give up. Go home.
It is true, we suppose, that Saddam, Uday, and Q’say Hussein probably would have preferred it if Osama had kept his yap shut and had kept his hijackers locked in the cave. And maybe the old Drag Queen of the Desert, Muammar Qaddafi, can also be counted among those who regretted bin Laden’s decision. Beyond those few, though, it’s hard to imagine that there are too many Islamists who think that bin Laden made the wrong decision, that he made a mistake by attacking the Americans on their own soil. On September 10, 2001, the jihadi movement – by which we mean the organized, proactive Islamist terrorist movement – was relatively small, though clearly ambitious and clearly potent. Today, it is massive, at least by comparison, operating freely or controlling territory in three regions and nearly a dozen countries. It is hard, in other words, to make the argument today that al Qaeda and its affiliates lost much, if anything, by picking the fight that they did.
Furthermore, it’s hard to see who will finish the fight against the Islamists on behalf of the righteous, now that the United States has, more or less, decided not to. We, along with countless others, have long held out hope that the Israelis would finish the job that the Americans couldn’t or wouldn’t. After all, unlike the Americans, who see Islamic terrorism as something that happens “over there” and has little or no effect on their day-to-day lives, Israelis live with Islamic radicalism as a constant and enduring fact of life, indeed, as one of the chief organizing forces in their society. The Israelis deal with Sunni Islamists on one border, Shiite Islamists on another, and Sunnis-backed-by-Shiites on a third. Additionally, they face the imminent threat of a second Holocaust at the hands of the Mad Mullahs, who, Barack Obama’s assurances to the contrary notwithstanding, are actively developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
Even given this, though, we cannot imagine how a tiny nation with just over six million people could manage to fight – and win – the war to save civilization. It certainly seems unlikely that they could do so by themselves, and it seems even more unlikely that they could do so by themselves in the face of an American administration that appears to want to see them fail at the task.
But who else is there?
We suspect, unfortunately, that there is no one else, that the Islamist movement will have to destroy itself from within, as all Millenarian movements eventually do. And on that subject, we are not quite so pessimistic.
You see, while the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, fashions himself an educated man and claims to have received a PhD from the Islamic University of Iraq, we suspect that if he had more than just a passing knowledge of 20th century history, he would not have chosen the tack he took this past weekend.
Of course, we know that the big, bad bullies of the Islamic State are afraid of no one and will take their god’s vengeance upon anyone whom they decide is in need of punishment. But still we think they may have awakened a real sleeping giant – for real this time – when they incensed the Japanese. Consider, if you will, the following from Sunday’s New York Times:
When Islamic State militants posted a video over the weekend showing the grisly killing of a Japanese journalist, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted with outrage, promising “to make the terrorists pay the price.”
Such vows of retribution may be common in the West when leaders face extremist violence, but they have been unheard of in confrontation-averse Japan — until now. The prime minister’s call for revenge after the killings of the journalist, Kenji Goto, and another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, raised eyebrows even in the military establishment, adding to a growing awareness here that the crisis could be a watershed for this long pacifist country.
“Japan has not seen this Western-style expression in its diplomacy before,” Akihisa Nagashima, a former vice minister of defense, wrote on Twitter. “Does he intend to give Japan the capability to back up his words?” . . .
The crisis . . . comes at a crucial moment in Japan’s modern history. Since taking office two years ago, Mr. Abe, a strong-willed conservative, has tried to push his nation into shedding the passive brand of pacifism that it repentantly embraced after defeat in World War II, and playing a more active role in world events. Analysts and former diplomats say the stark savagery of the killings will be an important test of how ready Japan really is to step onto the global stage. . . .
Japan reacted with an outpouring of fury and sorrow at the death of Mr. Goto, a respected journalist who was a veteran of war zones. Local television stations showed clips from his reports from places like Syria and Iraq, where he often reported on the plight of children and noncombatants. It was also noted that Japan was not even involved in the United States-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State, but its citizens were taken hostage and killed in the same cruel manner as those from other countries.
“I feel a deep despair that I’ve never felt before and an unfocused anger,” Taku Nishimae, a filmmaker who began an online campaign to free Mr. Goto by holding up a placard saying “I am Kenji,” told Kyodo News. . . .
I don’t see any sign of the Japanese people wanting to back down; to the contrary, they are quite angry,” said Ichiro Fujisaki, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States. “It’s actually surprising the extent to which people are united in standing against the terrorist group.”
For the record, we’re not suggesting that the Japanese are going to launch a war against the Islamic State and beat the nasty terrorists forward into the 8th century. We have no illusions about the Japanese military capabilities.
At the same time, we do know that military capability to Japan is a matter of will, not of capacity. All of which is to say that if the Japanese decide that they are, in fact, going to avenge this act of war against them, then they will not lack for means. They are perfectly able to do it, if only they choose to do so.
We wonder, of course, what form a response from Japan might take. After all, there is no contemporary precedent against which to judge Japanese efforts to make anyone “pay the price.” Since World War II, Japan has been constitutionally pacifistic. But frankly, that’s a fluke, a temporary and highly unusual approach to the world for the Japanese.
It is worth remembering that modern Imperial Japan – which is to say Japan from roughly 1865 to 1945 – was one of the most effective, efficient, and downright brutal military forces in the world. True, the Japanese did lose eventually to the Americans. But they did so only after nearly four years of intense fighting, shocking many in the West with their dedication and ruthlessness, and despite having only half the population and one-tenth the industrial capacity of the United States.
More to the point, in the early part of the 20th century, the Japanese established themselves as a fine and fierce military force. They became the first Asian nation to attack – and defeat – a European nation in the Russo-Japanese Wars. They overran China. They occupied Beijing. They annexed Taiwan and the Korean peninsula. Had they planned better on December 7th, they might have beaten the Americans, not just in that single battle, but in a short and ugly war.
And then, of course, there is the matter of the Japanese behavior in those wars. When people in the West think of the atrocities of World War II, they inevitably think of the Nazi slaughter of some 12 million people, six million of whom were Jews. This tendency to focus on the European theater and its atrocities, while understandable, nevertheless detracts from the horrific barbarities committed by the Japanese. The following, from a BBC account of the “Rape of Nanking,” gives just a little bit of the flavor of the Japanese conduct during the war:
Between December 1937 and March 1938 one of the worst massacres in modern times took place. Japanese troops captured the Chinese city of Nanjing and embarked on a campaign of murder, rape and looting. Based on estimates made by historians and charity organisations in the city at the time, between 250,000 and 300,000 people were killed, many of them women and children. The number of women raped was said by Westerners who were there to be 20,000, and there were widespread accounts of civilians being hacked to death. . . .
Japanese papers reported competitions among junior officers to kill the most Chinese. . .
One Japanese newspaper correspondent saw lines of Chinese being taken for execution on the banks of the Yangtze River, where he saw piles of burned corpses. Photographs from the time, now part of an exhibition in the city, show Japanese soldiers standing, smiling, among heaps of dead bodies. Tillman Durdin of the New York Times reported the early stages of the massacre before being forced to leave.
He later wrote: “I was 29 and it was my first big story for the New York Times. So I drove down to the waterfront in my car. And to get to the gate I had to just climb over masses of bodies accumulated there.”
“The car just had to drive over these dead bodies. And the scene on the river front, as I waited for the launch . . . was of a group of smoking, chattering Japanese officers overseeing the massacring of a battalion of Chinese captured troops.”
“They were marching about in groups of about 15, machine-gunning them.”
As he departed, he saw 200 men being executed in 10 minutes to the apparent enjoyment of Japanese military spectators. . . .
A Christian missionary, John Magee, described Japanese soldiers as killing not only “every prisoner they could find but also a vast number of ordinary citizens of all ages”.
“Many of them were shot down like the hunting of rabbits in the streets,” he said. . . .
Another who tried to help was an American woman, Minnie Vautrin, who kept a diary which has been likened to that of Anne Frank. Her entry for 16 December reads: “There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from the language school [where she worked] last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night – one of the girls was but 12 years old.”
Later, she wrote: “How many thousands were mowed down by guns or bayoneted we shall probably never know. For in many cases oil was thrown over their bodies and then they were burned.” “Charred bodies tell the tales of some of these tragedies. The events of the following ten days are growing dim. But there are certain of them that lifetime will not erase from my memory and the memories of those who have been in Nanjing through this period.”
Minnie Vautrin suffered a nervous breakdown in 1940 and returned to the US. She committed suicide in 1941. . . .
Also horrified at what he saw was John Rabe, a German who was head of the local Nazi party.
Did you catch that last bit? The local Nazi was “horrified.”
Do we expect – or even want, heaven forbid – the Japanese to repeat their behavior from World War II in a struggle with the Islamic State? Of course not, on BOTH counts. The Islamists’ wars in the Middle East and Central Asia have enough brutal and appalling atrocities already without adding any more. Moreover, 70 years is a long time, and as the United States proves, national character can change a great deal in seven decades. We doubt very much if the Japanese would be capable of such horrors today. And that, we firmly believe, is an enormous blessing – for them, for us, and for the entire world.
At the same time, we do think that it is worthwhile to recollect the Japanese history of military prowess and brutality – which is why we have done so here. If the barbarians who populate the Islamic State think that they can easily cow the Japanese or shock them with a beheading or two; if they think that the Japanese will respond to Islamist aggression in as lackadaisical and disinterested manner as have most of the nations of the West, then we suspect that the jihadis have no idea who the Japanese are – or at least who they were.
Japan is, as we have noted before in these pages, what is known as a “latent nuclear state,” or a “de facto nuclear state,” which is to say that it has both the means and the materials to build nuclear weapons on demand. It has simply chosen, for a variety of reasons, not to do so. Japan is also, despite its economic woes, one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world and one of the most aggressive in the development and utilization of robotics.
If you add all of this to the present Japanese anger and the historical Japanese military proficiency and tolerance for brutality, you just might end up with a formidable new enemy for the Islamists who think themselves bold and brave for executing journalists.
Again, we do not wish to argue that Japan has either the will or the present capacity to launch and win a war against anyone, much less the rather distant Islamists in Iraq and Syria. We do, however, mean to suggest that the Islamic State may very well have earned itself an unnecessary and rather redoubtable enemy in its struggle to establish its caliphate. The decision to execute two Japanese citizens this past weekend may be one that the Islamic State – and China, Russia, and others – comes to regret over the next couple of years.
We have written a great deal over the last few years about the American abdication of its traditional global role and the chaos inherent in this developing new world order. We have noted, among other things, that in this new order, the countries that have most enjoyed the umbrella of Pax Americana, i.e. Europe and Japan, will either have to learn to defend themselves again or get used to being pushed around on the global stage.
We have no idea how either Europe or Japan will respond to this challenge, although we do tend to think that the Japanese are far likelier to take up their own defense than are most of the Europeans. In any case, the Japanese are not the Italians. They are not Dutch. And they most certainly are not the French. We can’t say for sure that the Islamic State will regret awakening the Japanese, but we do hope it will.
THE TEA PARTY AND THE INEVITABLE POPULIST INSURRECTION.
One of the emerging conventional-wisdom talking points about the 2014 midterm elections and the Congress which it produced is that the Tea Party is now, at long last, finally dead. “Mainstream” candidates won the GOP primaries and enabled the party to retake the Senate. Mitch McConnell withstood his challenge. John Boehner was reelected as Speaker. The advocates of shutting down the government are all now on Democratic side. All is again right with the GOP and the Tea Party has been vanquished.
Or so they say.
As you know, we tend to be rather skeptical of the Washington conventional wisdom, particularly as it relates to the Tea Party. If we had a dime for every time over the last five years that we’ve heard or read that the Tea Party is dead, we’d both be rich men and would write this newsletter simply for the joy of it. Of course, if we had another dime for every time the conventional wisdom has underestimated the Tea Party, there’d be no newsletter and we’d be on permanent vacation on our private islands.
Whether the Tea Party is actually dead this time or is merely just resting again, we can’t say. If we had to guess, we’d say it’s resting – and only lightly and briefly. Nothing brings out the anti-establishment folks like a few months as the majority party and making no progress on the conservative agenda – whether by design or happenstance. More to the point, the social and economic forces that gave rise to the Tea Party in the first place have not abated any and, in fact, appear only to be getting worse. The national corporatist uniparty continues to prosper, as do its clients. The economy is in recovery, technically speaking, but the benefit of this recovery is hardly being felt equally, as the tax and economics policy reporter David Cay Johnson noted last week:
The first data on 2013 incomes show continuing bad news for Americans, my analysis of a new Internal Revenue Service report shows. Average income fell 2.6 percent in 2013, even though the economy grew 3.2 percent in real terms over 2012. Average inflation-adjusted income in 2013 was 8 percent lower than in 2007, the last peak economic year, and 6.9 percent less than in 2000, the year President George W. Bush set as the standard to evaluate the effect of his tax cuts and regulatory policies.
This is the latest sign of a disturbing trend. An ever-shrinking share of national income flows to individuals while corporate profits expand. In fact, profits hit a record high in 2013 both in absolute terms and as a share of the economy. By both measures, profits have continued rising. By contrast, labor’s share of national income has been trending downward since 1980, except for a spike during the second term of President Bill Clinton. The decline accelerated after the Bush tax cuts took effect, retroactively, to the first day of 2001. . . .
Total income reported by America’s almost 145 million taxpayers was $9.11 trillion, down seven-tenths of 1 percent from 2012 when measured in 2013 dollars. Average income fell by an even larger figure, 2.6 percent, because the number of taxpayers increased because of population growth.
Average income reported on tax returns in 2013 was $61,668, down from $63,297 in 2012 — a difference of $1,629 — my analysis of the latest IRS Statistics of Income report shows. Along with the startling decline in average income, average wages also fell, although the number of taxpayers reporting income from work grew by almost 2.8 million or 1.9 percent. The average wage declined $576, or 1.1 percent, to $53,797. . . .
The news here, overall, is this: The American economy is getting bigger, but average incomes are shrinking.
Conservatives – ourselves included – have a tendency to dismiss concerns about the shrinking share of the nation’s wealth going to “bottom 99%,” if for no other reason than we know that the Left’s entire concern about “inequality” is merely a ruse to expand the state, increase taxes, and distribute more income. But the Left’s nefarious motives notwithstanding, conservatives would do well to think a little bit more seriously about the causes and effects of the economic trends noted by Johnson. If they don’t, not only will they fail to address the real and serious implications of these trends, they’ll also lose the debate over them to the Left, which will then proceed to exacerbate them.
In a recent fawning bit of commentary for the Washington Post, Dana Milbank, the current most accurate barometer of Inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom, prattled on endlessly about the subject of economic inequality and about the man he sees as the best hope for remedying the situation. To wit:
Bernie Sanders is in his natural state – of agitation.
It’s just 9 a.m., but the socialist senator, contemplating a presidential run as a Democrat or as a populist independent, is red in the face and his white hair askew. In a conference room at The Washington Post, he’s raising his voice, thumping his index finger on the table and gesturing so wildly that his hand comes within inches of political reporter Karen Tumulty’s face.
“We are living in the United States right now at a time when the top one-tenth of 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent,” the Vermont lawmaker says in his native Brooklyn accent. . . .
“You’re looking at the undermining of American democracy, okay?”
Okay, okay, okay. I remark on his prodigious indignation.
“It’s early in the morning,” Sanders boasts. “Catch me later in the afternoon.”
The real outrage, though, is that so few people share his fury. . . .
Milbank, as is his wont, has the story only half right. While it is true that only a few people share Sanders’ fury, it is patently untrue that those people are not upset by the corporatism endemic in the American political system. Milbank and Sanders just don’t see those people and even if they did, wouldn’t count them as real, genuine anti-corporatist populists because these folks don’t share their blinkered notion that this problem, created by government, can be made better by more government.
As we have written countless times over the last few years, the real and vital energy in the American system these days can be found in the Tea Party. While the Left dismisses its members as racists and the establishment Right ignores them as cranks and weirdoes, the Tea Party alone has both grasped the fundamental corporatist nature of contemporary American government and proposed to do something about it.
If it were up to us, the GOP would follow the path advocated by the likes of University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales to sound economic policy. Recall that Zingales advocates the GOP adopt a “pro-market” economic approach rather than its traditional “pro-business” stance:
The Republican Party today . . . has to move from a pro-business strategy that defends the interests of existing companies to a pro-market strategy that fosters open competition and freedom of entry. While the two agendas sometimes coincide — as in the case of protecting property rights — they are often at odds. Established firms are threatened by competition and frequently use their political muscle to restrict new entries into their industry, strengthening their positions but putting their customers at a disadvantage.
A pro-market strategy aims to encourage the best conditions for doing business, for everyone. Large banks, for instance, benefit from trading derivatives (such as credit default swaps) over the counter, rather than in an organized exchange: they can charge wider spreads that way, and they can afford to post less collateral by using their credit ratings. For this reason, they oppose moving such trades to organized exchanges, where transactions would be conducted with greater transparency, liquidity, and collateralization — and so with greater financial stability. This is where a pro-market party needs the courage to take on the financial industry on behalf of everyone else.
A pro-market strategy rejects subsidies not only because they’re a waste of taxpayers’ money but also because they prop up inefficient firms, delaying the entry of new and more efficient competitors. For every “zombie” firm that survives because of government assistance, several innovative start-ups don’t get the chance to be born. Subsidies, then, hurt taxpayers twice. A genuinely pro-market party would have resisted more vigorously the Wall Street bailouts, in line with popular sentiment.
And a pro-market approach holds companies financially accountable for their mistakes — an essential policy if free markets are to produce sound decisions. A pro-market party will fight tirelessly against letting firms become so big that they cannot be allowed to fail, since such firms may take risks that ordinary companies would never dream of . . .
Of course, for better or worse, it’s not up to us. The GOP neither listens to our advice nor heeds that of Luigi Zingales. This wouldn’t concern us much if it listened, instead, to the Tea Party, which understands the same basic ideas, if on a more visceral level. Unfortunately, the Republican Party would rather not listen to the Tea Partiers either.
As we said above, we don’t have any idea if the Tea Party is really dead this time, though we do know that the GOP had better hope it’s not. As the “recovery” proceeds apace, we grow more and more convinced that the corporatist system introduced to the republic by the Progressive “reforms” of the last century have distorted not only the nation’s politics, but its economics as well. The data, we think, bear this out and suggest that there is some sort of economic reckoning on the distant horizon.
The big question now is which of the two basic ideological predispositions that dominate politics in this country will manage to identify the distortions first and convince a plurality of the public that it has the best, most effective policy prescriptions for combating it.
If lefties like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren manage to become the face of anti-corporatist reform in this country, the problem will all but certainly be exacerbated rather than remedied. Bigger government is hardly a logical answer to the questions raised by big government, not that they won’t try to impose it on us.
Given the state of both the American political system and the American economy, the burgeoning populist insurrection is unlikely to be quelled easily. For the GOP’s sake – and, more importantly, for the country’s – Republican party leaders would do well to get in front of this uprising, identify its impact on average American families and acknowledge the Tea Party’s contribution to the debate. If they do not, the Left will win either by convincing the public to try their economic elixir, or by a default when Tea Pparty members become too disgusted to vote at all.
Just sayin’ . . . .