August 11, 2011

Verdict not yet rendered...


We're in the midst of a great four-year national debate on the size and reach of government, the future of the welfare state, indeed, the nature of the social contract between citizen and state. The distinctive visions of the two parties — social-democratic vs. limited-government — have underlain every debate on every issue since Barack Obama's inauguration: the stimulus, the auto bailouts, health-care reform, financial regulation, deficit spending. Everything. The debt ceiling is but the latest focus of this fundamental divide.

The sausage-making may be unsightly, but the problem is not that Washington is broken, that ridiculous ubiquitous cliche. The problem is that these two visions are in competition, and the definitive popular verdict has not yet been rendered.

We're only at the midpoint. Obama won a great victory in 2008 that he took as a mandate to transform America toward European-style social democracy. The subsequent counterrevolution delivered to that project a staggering rebuke in November 2010. Under our incremental system, however, a rebuke delivered is not a mandate conferred. That awaits definitive resolution, the rubber match of November 2012.

I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal — rollback, in Cold War parlance — is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House....

Well, that's how our Constitution was written. The idea was that a temporary fad or frenzy could not result in hasty changes. You might reply that that's exactly what happened in 2008. But that was a very unusual situation. And even with Dems suddenly holding the White House and massive majorities in both houses, it's interesting how little they were actually able to pass. And Obamacare itself was only pushed through with legislative trickery. And they are still relying on back-door ways such as EPA regulations to create laws they can't pass.

Plus, 2008 was tied to the one big issue that our Constitution has never been quite able to deal with--slavery and its legacy. To put it in terms of the 70-Year Cycle, the first cycle started with ignoring the issue of slavery so as too contentious to touch during the founding, the second with the Civil War, the third with the battle to end segregation.

Now we are starting the fourth cycle with the first black president, and through him the exposure of the utter bankruptcy of third cycle ideas. That should clear the decks for the next big civil rights fight, which I suspect will be over education.

Posted by John Weidner at August 11, 2011 6:47 AM
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