The Next President Will Be Worse

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I don’t usually like making predictions about elections more than a year and a half in advance, but I’ve been feeling daring lately.

Assuming the great Ron Paul doesn’t get the Republican nomination — yes, it is possible the GOP wouldn’t pick someone with such a consistent devotion to freedom and the Constitution to run for the most powerful position in the largest government in world history, a government which they did so much to build — right now, I fear, the common projection that the election will likely be between Clinton and Giuliani is one that strikes me as all too plausible.

I previously posted my thoughts on why Hillary would be preferable to McCain. Although the new Democratic Congress makes the prospect of Hillary downright terrifying, if it were not for recent polls, I would still stand by my previous reasoning: The right hates Hillary, and the left and center aren’t totally crazy about her, either. McCain, however, has some undue respect from leftists and centrists for being a maverick. This has subsided somewhat, now that campaign finance reform hasn’t been an issue for a couple years — Bush long ago signed the bill and now even the left is wondering if the crackdowns on soft money go too far — but for a while there, no matter how loudly he called for blood, McCain held a banner of lobbying and election reform which made him strangely palatable to gullible progressives.

I had thought McCain in power would be more horrifying than Hillary, for the simple reason that he would face much less resistance. Hillary would have the entire rightwing opposing her — though much of it would also be challenging this woman to prove her capacity to draw Muslim blood, a challenge I’m sure she’d be thrilled to oblige — whereas McCain would have all the support he needed both to wage war and to pursue bipartisan domestic reforms, almost all of which would collectivize and wreck the US economy.

The left isn’t as keen on McCain as it was a couple years back. This makes him less scary than he was, but also less likely to grab the presidency.

For several months now, the polls have deemed Giuliani the Republican frontrunner, with Clinton being the Democratic favorite. For over two years now, the polls have indicated that Giuliani could beat Hillary. But I think, ultimately, he will lose.

This is what I think will happen.

Recent polls show Giuliani having the most favorable public image. But while something like a near-2/3 think he’d be a good president, there’s 60% who think Hillary would be. (The majority is also optimistic that Obama or McCain would be fine. It’s astonishing that any of these monsters could conceivably get a majority of the votes; it’s unbelievable that there would be voters in the center struggling to decide between such cretins because they all look like good choices!!)

Since the center is what will determine the election outcome, I think that, although it now leans toward Giuliani, it will ultimately go, narrowly, to Clinton.

There are leftists and liberals who say they’d vote for Giuliani over Hillary. (This alone is a hint that he must be trouble!) But in the end, they will eventually vote for a Clinton over another Republican. They will eventually come back to the Democratic reservation and vote for Hillary.

Hillary’s support will probably not shrink. Her dirty laundry has been public for over fifteen years, and yet a bare majority of Americans still like her. Giuliani, however, is less well known, which explains why he’s so well liked. The more these two reprobates sling mud at each other, the more the center will turn against Giuliani. Most of those who will turn against Hillary, including the principled peace factions on the left, already have.

The Democrats will take over in 2008, after two more years of quagmire, which will mostly be blamed on Bush but unfortunately not blamed enough on the Democratic co-conspirators. In fact, the worse the war is going and the more the economy begins to falter, the more it will hurt the Republicans but not the Democrats. We will thus have a full-blown Clintonista government again, but much worse than in the first two years of Bill Clinton’s administration. This will be a post-9/11 Democratic monopoly, after all, headed by the woman who wanted a larger White House office than the vice president.

The bright side, as I mentioned before, is that so many people hate her, so while a majority might go along with her nonsense, or with Giuliani’s, she would have a larger minority fighting her. But while the rightwing resistance might check her domestic ambitions, in foreign policy it will likely only goad her on. Only something like Vietnam syndrome would be able to restrain such a regime, but we’re clearly not there yet as it concerns the war on terror.

If Giuliani wins, it would be a nightmare, by the way. A histrionic persecutor of so-called insider traders, a hypocritical moralist, a nightstick-state-happy gun grabber like Giuliani is not the kind of Republican whose grubby hands we want on the post-Bush levers of power. We especially don’t want a Republican ruler who will get the benefit of the doubt from the left, right and center. He would probably get less resistance from the left, although he would be dealing with a Democratic Congress, than Bush did, even in the beginning. Maybe Giuliani will be the one to usher in a new era of bipartisanship.

Of course, I might be wrong about all of this. Al Gore, now Oscar-endowed, loved by the masses who still regret his loss to Dubya, might jump into the race and change history.

So here’s my more general prediction: Whoever it will be, even if it’s someone unmentioned above, it will almost certainly be a centrist president — meaning a prudential, gradualist totalitarian. And whoever it is, the next president will be worse than Bush.

This is reflected in the fact that this election, like almost all those before it, is shaping up to be one of the worst of all time.

If you think about it, the choice has only gotten worse and worse in recent decades.

In 1976, the choice was between Ford, who at least was in many ways an improvement over Nixon and relatively peaceful in foreign affairs, and Carter, who eventually brought some deregulation and an amnesty for draft dodgers. Neither of these was a libertarian dream, of course, but in those days of a discredited White House, both parties had frontrunners that only seem non-threatening by today’s standards.

In 1980, the choice was between Carter, who had done a lot of bad and a lot of good (he created new bureaucratic monstrosities but he also pardoned the draft resisters), and Reagan, who claimed to want to do a lot of good and some bad.

In 1984, the choice was between Reagan, who had just for four years run the government, which he claimed he thought was the problem and not the solution, and made it much bigger, and Mondale, who also wanted to make government bigger, only without pretending to want it smaller.

In 1988, the choice was between Bush, an ex-CIA head honcho with a straight-up Rockefeller foreign policy agenda and no loyalty to the free market, and tax-and-spend Dukakis, who made a big point of how the Republicans were losing the war on drugs because the Reagan administration had been too soft on the issue.

In 1992, the choice was between Bill Clinton, an ardent advocate of domestic leviathan, a man who felt our pain — and, as Carol Quigley’s protégé, our tragedy and hope as well — and Bush, who had just slaughtered tens of thousands of people in the Middle East and then raised taxes when he said he wouldn’t.

In 1996, the choice was between Bob Dole, a national-greatness Republican who pretty much never met a tax he didn’t want to vote to raise, and Clinton, who had a few years back conducted the largest massacre of civilians by the federal government on US soil since Wounded Knee. (To see how meaningless this election was, check out the talks that both men have since attended together. On US imperialism, they seemed to agree down the line.)

In 2000, the choice was between Gore and Bush II, both of whom advocated expanding federal programs this way and that, but at least one of them had some slightly good things to say about taxes and foreign policy. The better-sounding one was victorious, and brought about the worst and most frightening developments at the federal level since the Great Society and Vietnam War, at times even aspiring to levels of despotism that only a Lincoln, Wilson or FDR would dare attempt. (And, again, thanks in no small part to Bush’s bumbling, we might yet get the other, worse-sounding candidate in the White House!)

In 2004, Bush was up for reelection against fellow Bonesman Kerry, who promised to expand government even more than Bush and send more troops to win the war he voted for but now said was a bad idea.

In 2008, it looks, right now, like the choice will be between Hillary and Giuliani. My best guess, and this does sound like a long shot to a lot of folks out there — if Bush hadn’t signed that authoritarian ban on online gambling, I’d consider getting good odds on this — is that the next president will be Hillary.

But in power, either Clinton or Giuliani would probably be worse than Bush. There will be a mandate for change, but the change will be seen as personal more than ideological. With the exit of Bush, there will be less resistance, at least for a while, to governmental insanity and atrocity. Hillary with a Democratic Congress u2014 or Giuliani with either party in Congress u2014 would likely keep intact everything evil and destructive that Bush has fastened onto our country, and then ram through whatever programs they want. They both support gun control, opportunistic government spending, the police state and the war on terror. They are both, in ways, more favorable toward government qua government than Bush, just based on their pronouncements on these issues. They both would be more popular, at least at first, and will be given an undue benefit of the doubt. And we know how much power corrupts.

I do not usually make predictions of this type, and I might be wrong when I say the next president will be Hillary or Giuliani. I might even be wrong when I say the next president will be worse than Bush. God knows I hope I’m wrong. If I am, I will happily eat crow, for even the foulest fowl would taste like Thanksgiving turkey on that rare day when it can be said we have underestimated the American electorate and the US political system, and a dreadful tyrant has actually been replaced by a lesser one.

Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He is a research analyst at the Independent Institute. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.

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