It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.
I am, of course, referring to the 2006 election blow-out which saw the Democrats gain control of both houses of Congress. In some ways, as I mentioned here, this was an absolutely critical election. History demanded that the perpetrators of our reckless foreign policy be brought before the bar of public opinion. What would future generations, those suffering in the aftermath of these policies, have thought of us had we not acted? What precedent would have been set for future administrations?
Despotism, without political or legal consequence, would have become the order of the day.
One shudders at the thought.
So, in that sense, we can all rejoice that a measure of justice has been done.
Conservative radio hosts are claiming that the Republicans’ defeat was the result of their abandonment of conservative ideals. The talking heads claim the Republicans were seduced by power and that they detoured into the realm of profligate spending and cronyism.
While there is much truth to that assertion, it is also worth considering just how much the Republicans’ performance was not a betrayal of their true selves, but rather an unmasking of it.
When one looks at the history of the Republican Party, it has always been the party of state capitalism (or, more specifically, state corporatism). It was founded for the express purpose of seizing the levers of power for the Northeastern banking and industrial establishments.
Why, then, should we consider their behavior these past years to be a "betrayal?" Could it not, more accurately, be called an "actualization?"
While keeping these thoughts in mind — and without trying to sound too paradoxical — this election was also completely irrelevant. It was irrelevant in the sense that our new congressional Democratic overlords will not address either of the two major crises which imperil our collective future.
The first danger is our nation’s rapidly eroding financial situation. We are, simply put, sliding into bankruptcy. Our government, and indeed our entire economy, is buckling under the weight of debts ranging in the trillions of dollars. When deceptive "off-budget" expenses are factored into the equation, the federal government is spending some five hundred billion dollars more per year than it collects in taxes. Our annual trade deficit now hovers around eight hundred billion dollars per year, and is rocketing toward the trillion dollar mark.
For how long can we expect to live beyond our means to this ridiculous extent?
I’m not sure, but my guess is "not for very long."
Thus, the question of the hour is this: Will the Democrats act to reverse this trend?
I expect not. The Democratic Party is, above all, the party of wealth redistribution. They are watered-down European social democrats. Seeking government solutions to any and all social problems is the religion of our liberal elites (and is, in fact, the only religion they possess).
While the Republicans showed themselves to be experts in pork-barrel spending and dirty dealings, can we expect the Democrats to do much better? What is it about the history of the Democratic Party that suggests it will respond to our nation’s financial crisis with a program of fiscal austerity?
The beneficiaries of the Democrats’ redistribution and corruption schemes may be somewhat different from those of the Republicans, but my hunch is that the overall mathematics will remain the same.
The second danger confronting us is our chaotic, interventionist foreign policy and the consequences of this imperial overreach.
Where do the Democrats stand on this issue?
Last summer, I attended the first week of the annual Chautauqua Institution. The topic was "Russia." The seminars were organized by the Brookings Institution, a prominent liberal think-tank.
For several days, I sat through lecture after lecture (given by academics and ex-government types) on various topics including Russia’s economics, foreign policy, and social development.
The experience was, to put it mildly, alarming and depressing. Each speaker was worse than the next. Their lectures all amounted to bossy, patronizing diatribes demanding that Russia change every minutiae of its public policy.
Finally, at the end of the week, while sitting through the final panel discussion, I had had enough. I approached the microphone at question time and asked Strobe Talbot (the President of the Brookings Institution) some simple questions: "What gives us the right to dictate policies to the Russians? After all, are they not a sovereign nation?"
At first, he stared at me blankly, as if he didn’t understand my question, or as though I’d spoken in some strange, foreign language. Then, when the truth finally dawned, his look changed to one of condescending anger, as if his butler had just challenged him to a duel. When that reaction passed, he settled for mere contempt. He brushed aside my point and said (to paraphrase) "Of course we have the right to dictate Russia’s policies. We have the obligation to spread our values. We’re the world’s only superpower."
I hasten, at this juncture, to remind the reader that the Brookings Institution is a Democratic think-tank. Strobe Talbot is a liberal and a close associate of the Clintons. It was quite clear that he thought the idea of respecting Russian sovereignty, or of America minding its own business, was puerile and absurd.
This sums up the general opinion of our entire bipartisan political establishment.
Those who believe that this election will somehow end our imperial foreign policy are in for a deep and nasty surprise. America spends more on defense than almost every other nation combined. We have troops stationed in over a hundred foreign countries. We are bogged down in two no-win wars.
There is absolutely nothing in the history or ideology of the Democratic Party that leads me to believe it will reverse these policies.
So where does that leave us?
It leaves us sinking toward bankruptcy and trapped in a policy of perpetual war for perpetual peace.
And, rather than offering solutions, the Democrats will prove themselves to be a substantial part of the problem.
Steven LaTulippe [send him mail] is a physician currently practicing in Ohio. He was an officer in the United States Air Force for 13 years.