Sunday, June 1, 2008
And They're Off!
The endless primary campaign is drawing to a close. The endless election campaign is beginning. What has emerged is a contest between two incredibly flawed candidates who have serious problems with their party's base voters. Conservatives look at the dismal prospect of a choice between an inexperienced leftist neophyte and a liberal maverick, isolated from his own party, and both of them certainly in the thrall of a heavily Democratic congress run by the most irresponsible radicals ever to gain power in this country's history. If you listen to the talk and read the polls it would seem that every bad policy proposed by the left for the last century is about to come true.
But is it? This election will definitely move the government to the left but events are moving to severely limit the options of that government. Recently a horrible 'cap and trade' environmental bill has gone down to defeat in the Senate, unable to even reach the floor for a vote. What defeated a bill that would seem to be supported by almost the entire political establishment? High energy prices have stirred anger and resentment among the electorate and in recent show-trial hearings in front of the Senate judiciary Committee usually discrete and cautious oil company executives turned on their Democratic inquisitors and blamed high energy prices on the insane policies pursued by those very Democrats and the pinch-faced anti-consumer Puritans of the Church Of Enviromentalism. Luckily for the Dems the moribund ruins of the Republican Party dont have the political courage to break from thirty years of environmental orthodoxy and present themselves as the party of oil drilling and nuclear power but the craven and cowardly Dems have been brought up short by the public reaction, "Yeah, why arent we drilling?"
More bad news for the liberal agenda will follow. In my beloved home state of California the Jerkinator and the Democratic Party's two-house majority in the state legislature was ripe for some nefarious meddling in the 'health care crisis' only to see their tendentious plans submerged in a tidal wave of red ink generated by their previous stupidities. A similar situation happened last year so they passed a 'surtax' on the incomes of the 'super rich'. Revenues went crashing down, just as they did in Michigan when they tried the same thing. Now these geniuses are faced with a growing deficit and the rise in energy and food prices have squeezed the hapless electorate to the breaking point. Raising tax rates and fees will bring in less revenue, and even the most ardent socialist doesnt want to face the prospect of actual cuts.
The Federal government is in the same fix. The rise of energy and food prices, linked directly to their own policies is changing the landscape for liberals. Their largess was always based on the assumption that the wealth of this economy was limitless and hobbling big business and loading on more taxes would just be absorbed by a robust engine of wealth creation. But nothing is limitless. Businesses are being chased offshore by Sarbanes-Oxley type harassment, capital is being chased away by threats to repeal the Bush capital-gains rate cut, local and state authorities are ruthlessly milking taxpayers to protect their own cronies and public employee union's place at the trough. Attempts to give illegal aliens access to public benefits are hoydening and timid and go nowhere. The political class knows it is walking through a magazine stuffed with leaking sacks of gunpowder with a sputtering lantern. The voters havent decided WHO they're mad at yet but the anger is growing. Right now the media and the Dems are hoping people will hang this on Bush and the Republicans but that makes less and less sense.
Is this the environment for Federal Health Care? If Obama is elected what are the expectations of the black community? A long, bloody fight over quotas or reparations could destroy the coalition that has sustained the Democratic Party for generations. If McCain is elected where will he turn to build a governing coalition? Certainly not in a direction which requires him to sail against the political winds. And the political winds are all blowing from the right. Higher tax rates will certainly tank revenues and cause a depression. The government, federal, state and local is going to be faced with a round of severe cuts or it will pull the nation into bankruptcy. Its becoming increasingly obvious that energy policy has to be changed radically and now. Handing a few hundred billion dollars to ethanol farmers and windmill hustlers hasnt worked. Its time to drill for oil, look at the most judicious ways to use coal, and build nuclear power plants, new refineries and pipelines. The emerging international situation will require some radical rethinking of just exactly what our nation's vital interests are and whether we have the will and the self-confidence to protect those interests.
Can the current political class, with their flawed ivy-league educations and their tendency to believe that endless talk solves all problems, cope with this situation? Its more likely that they'll be paralyzed into inactivity until some FDR-like leader emerges to create a new political coalition based on the new reality.