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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pickett’s Charge & American Liberalism

Pickett’s Charge & American Liberalism

I recently visited Gettysburg and had an opportunity to tour the battlefield with my wife and relatives using a recorded tour CD.  The guide who made the CD did a terrific job of describing the events of those momentous days.  And, of course, part of his narrative included Pickett’s Charge, which history now recalls as the high water mark of the Confederacy.  Of course, as General Pickett and his 12,500 men stepped out across that mile long open field on July 3, 1863, no one then knew that this would indeed be the high water mark of the Confederacy.  In fact, even after thousands had died in that ill-fated charge at Gettysburg, no one would have proclaimed that the war had been won.  In fact, the war continued for two bloody years.  It was only after the fact, that it was possible for historians to look back and say that Pickett’s Charge was the high water mark of the Confederacy.

Similarly, today it is impossible to know with certainty when a watershed event has occurred.  It is only by looking back that we can see that it was indeed a turning point.
When Jimmy Carter was elected it soon became clear that his was a disastrous presidency.  Why?  Because his policies were completely at loggerheads with the American people and because it was evident that he was in way over his head.  However, little did conservatives know that the Carter victory in 1976 would lead to a triumph of the conservative movement with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

No, we can’t look into the future or even read current tea leaves to understand the flow of human events.  However, I’m beginning to feel a great sameness between the presidency of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.  The Obama presidency is, as I suspected, simply Jimmy Carter on steroids.

More than that, each day the Obama presidency is looking more and more like the high water mark of not only Obama, but American liberalism.  There’s a certain shock value to electing someone who runs as a moderate promising bipartisanship, low taxes, and bringing Americans together, who turns out to be someone who believes in the Marxist values of redistribution of income.

The Fabian Socialist movement came to the United States in the early 20th century and built up a head of steam in the heady days of Franklin Roosevelt.  The Fabians challenged the foundations of American society.  They opposed free enterprise, they sought a welfare state, and by and large they rejected God as the foundation of a free society.

After the failure of many of their utopian programs and the realization of a real Communist menace, the impact of the Fabians receded for a number of years until re-kindled under Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.  The Great Society spent billions and billions of dollars in the greatest social experiment in US history only to make living conditions and opportunities worse for those in poverty.  Johnson tried, in vain, to substitute entitlement for opportunity and in doing so, sentenced America’s poor to permanent poverty.

The civil rights movement of the 1960’s breathed new life into liberalism.  And indeed, the success of liberalism in supporting equal rights for African Americans was its one shining success.  But liberals saw that success not as one for Black Americans, but for them to use to create a permanent Democrat majority.  Liberalism corrupted its own success by taking the focus off of opportunity for African Americans and turning it into a means of making Blacks dependent upon them for subsistence living.  It was at this point that it became in the interest of liberal politicians to keep Black Americans in poverty and to limit opportunity in order to control their vote.  In this they have been quite successful.

After Watergate it looked like the end for the Republican Party.  But, in fact, from the ashes of the Nixon Presidency sprang the victory of Ronald Reagan.  Scoffed at as “just an actor,” belittled by liberal pundits, and discounted by “self styled” intellectuals, Ronald Reagan had the last laugh.

Entering office at one of the lowest points in American history, Ronald Reagan restored an economy not only afflicted by Great Depression unemployment, but inflation that soared past 22%!  Deregulation and tax cuts led to the longest period of prosperity in American history.  Contemporaneous with this success, the Reagan Doctrine not only restored respect for America around the globe, but brought down the Soviet Union.

Were the Reagan years the high water mark of conservatism?  Perhaps, but I think it more likely that they were just a harbinger of things yet to come.  Reagan proved once and for all that a nation cannot spend itself into prosperity.  The facts are on the record—tax relief that puts money back into the hands of the citizens is the key to economic prosperity.

We are through the dreary years of Bush ’41, the embarrassing years of Clinton, and the confused years of Bush ’43.  But unfortunately we now are forced to endure the wrong headed policies of a very young, inexperienced ideologue who, like Carter, is in way over his head.  

The problem for President Obama is that what he is selling, the American people aren’t buying.  They were understandably tired of Bush, they were uninspired by John McCain, but they didn’t vote for “hope and change” that included government takeover of the American economy.  

President Obama has had many opportunities to get the American people on his side, but he has muffed each one of them.  He didn’t help himself by going around the world apologizing for America.

He didn’t help himself by cozying up to dictators like Hugo Chavez and supporting the legally ousted, Marxist President of Honduras.  He didn’t help himself by appointing two dozen non-confirmed “czars,” such as Van Jones who believes that George Bush and the Israelis destroyed the twin trade towers in New York City.

And President Obama will only fall further in the eyes of the American public by forcing through a government medical care scheme that no one wants.  To continue advancing such policies is political hara-kiri.  Obstinately continuing down a course that is overwhelmingly unpopular is a sure road to defeat.

Is that the road Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are headed down?  The early sign will be the outcome of the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia on November 3.  If the Republicans win convincingly in both contests, especially in the heavily Democratic state of New Jersey, then Obama and the Democrats are in real trouble. 

If that scenario turns into reality it would take a total about-face by Obama from his current out-of-touch liberal policies to have any chance of keeping 2010 from being a total bloodbath for the Democrats.

Has liberalism in America reached its apogee?  That’s my bet.  Polls of the American people show that the majority now identify themselves as conservatives, and only a tiny fraction identify themselves as liberals.  While that’s good news for Americans who treasure individual freedom, the disaster left behind by this inept and ideologically motivated President will take generations to clean up.  Perhaps, just perhaps, American conservatism is on the cusp of its greatest triumph, providing we select a genuine conservative to head up the Republican ticket in 2012.  Is the Obama presidency the high water mark of American liberalism?  May we be so blessed.

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