My post on The Fascist Impulse was meant to challenge the world view of one of our regular correspondents, Morgan–and by extension, the other conservatives who read this blog. And as I was sure he would, he rose to the defense of the philosophy which has pretty much run this country since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Some Democrats may claim that there was an eight year Interregnum in this nearly 40 year reign of Republican rule, during the Clinton administration, but I believe that since the Republican’s took power in the congress two years into the Clinton presidency, there was no real break in a world view that can summarized as follows:
- In domestic affairs the national government should shrink (by cutting taxes and business regulations).
- In foreign affairs the government should grow (by becoming the world’s sole military superpower).
Morgan’s thesis is that this philosophy of low taxation and freedom for business combined with hegemonic projection of military power has been incredibly successful, so successful in fact that all other country’s really wish they could be us, or as he puts it, “If not for us, they themselves would be doing it to us.” I have been making the argument for the past month, that this essentially neo-imperialist philosophy has real costs, not the least of which is the astonishing rise of our national debt (chart above) since the Republican takeover of our government in 1980. Morgan makes the rather bizarre argument that this is a good thing to owe China and Russia more than $2 trillion, because then they are “hooked on our currency.” I know the issue of walking away from your debts may be a sore subject in Austin, but America can’t declare bankruptcy and get our commercial rivals to forgive and forget.
But Morgan makes a secondary, more personal accusation– that I am anti-capitalist and believe that some form of socialism is the secret solution to our country’s problems. So I have to state at the outset that this is nonsense. I’m 61 years old and have thrived in my life in the push and pull of the marketplace. I have worked in the most competitive and most ferocious of capitalistic enterprises (such as investment banking, movie and music production). All this has allowed me the privilege of teaching in the later years of my career–the only way I knew to give back (aside from my church, which is a rock and roll Episcopal Parish called Thad’s). I do consulting work for two of the largest corporations in America and have worked for my government on issues of Cultural Diplomacy, even during the Bush administration. All of this is to say, that I will not have my love of country questioned by some mysterious Internet operator in Texas named Morgan Warstler.
This leads me to my main point. Our country cannot afford four more years of Republican rule. That’s why Obama’s election is so critical. The path which we have been on since Ronald Reagan has been disastrous–for our economy, our competitiveness, our culture and our democracy. I believe that a society cannot continue to spend more than it earns and survive. I believe that a country that ranks 26th in the world in 12th grade math and science scores cannot continue to compete. I believe that a country that is the only developed nation in the world without universal health care and yet spends 2x per capita than the rest of the developed world cannot compete and does not serve its citizens. I believe that a country that spends tens of billions a year turning out what the Times this morning called “puerile, vulgar, violent and gross” entertainment, while refusing to pay for music and art classes in school, gets the culture it deserves. And finally, I believe a country that forsakes a two century tradition of civil liberty, habeus corpus and privacy protection is the living example of Ben Franklin’s great fear that, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”
The policies of the Neoconservatives have been an absolute failure. And they are the policies that John McCain would not only continue but extend, as the New York Times points out this morning. Unlike the Neoconservatives (most of the founders of the movement were ex-Stalinists) I actually believe in the marketplace. Do you think when Republicans regularly came to the aid of American automakers to keep gas prices low with their low gas taxes and lack of CO2 regulation that they were really interested in the free market? No, because in the real market (the world market), companies were making fuel efficient cars of high quality and low cost. So when our artificially distorted market “corrected” closer to the rest of the world, Detroit was revealed for what it was, a dinosaur living off Republican subsidies.
So I guess what has irked me most, since Morgan first appeared on the blog with his accusations, is that many of the contributors, including myself, are trying to assess just what it would take to rebuild America. To be accused of Anti-Americanism–his quote was “you should promote our MO, not badmouth it”–seems to me to miss the whole point of the alternative media. It’s obvious that Fox News or any of the other corporate media have no interest in changing the status quo and neither do any of their corporate advertisers. If forums such as this cannot have a rational discussion to figure out how the Republicans got us into this mess and how we are going to get out of it, who will air these questions?