....one sees something even larger at stake in this vote. One sees what Joe (The Plumber) Wurzelbacher saw. The real "change" being put to a vote for the American people in 2008 is not simply a break from the economic policies of "the past eight years" but with the American economic philosophy of the past 200 years. This election is about a long-term change in America's idea of itself.
I don't agree with the argument that an Obama-Pelosi-Reid government is a one-off, that good old nonideological American pragmatism will temper their ambitions. Not true. With this election, the U.S. is at a philosophical tipping point.
The goal of Sen. Obama and the modern, "progressive" Democratic Party is to move the U.S. in the direction of Western Europe, the so-called German model and its "social market economy." Under this notion, business is highly regulated, as it would be in the next Congress under Democratic House committee chairmen Markey, Frank and Waxman. Business is allowed to create "wealth" so long as its utility is not primarily to create new jobs or economic growth but to support a deep welfare system.
Like Obama's German model in 1933, opposition will be squelched [The oxymoronic "Fairness Doctrine" doesn't touch TV, press, only "talk radio."] A gigantic PUTSCH will engender in 2008 the sort of socialism-in-one-country which Obama's European intellectual forebearers put forward in 1933 in Germany and years before that with collectivization & forced famines in a "workers' paradise" east of Germany by a strongman named after a metal. Stalin.
Henninger doesn't say this, of course, and there will not be the vicious brutality Europeans have consistently demonstrated in asserting their political will throughout the 20th century. [Including Kaiser Wilhelm & Mussolini & other national experiments in social justice.] Henninger does say this:
The political planets are aligned to make this achievable. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, prominent Democrats, European leaders in France and Germany and more U.S. newspaper articles than one can count have said that the crisis proves the need to permanently tame the American "free-market" model. P.O.W. Alan Greenspan is broadcasting confessions. The question is: Are the American people of a mind to throw in the towel on the system that got them here?
This would be a historic shift, one post-Vietnam Democrats have been trying to achieve since their failed fight with Ronald Reagan's "Cowboy Capitalism."
Of course Cowboy Capitalism built the country. More than any previous nation in history, the United States made its way forward on a 200-year wave of upwardly mobile, profit-seeking merchants, tradesmen, craftsmen and workers. They blew out of New England and New York, rolled across the wildernesses of the Central States, pushed across a tough Western frontier and banged into San Francisco and Los Angeles, leaving in their path city after city of vast wealth.
The U.S. emerged a superpower, and the tool of that ascent was simple -- the pursuit of economic growth. Now China, India and Brazil, embracing high-growth Cowboy Capitalism, are doing what we did, only their cities are bigger.
Now comes Barack Obama, standing at the head of a progressive Democratic Party, his right hand rising to say, "Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be for-profit cowboys. It's time to spread the wealth around."
What this implies, undeniably, is that the United States would move away from running with the high GDP, high-growth nations rising today as economic and political powers and move over to retire with the low-growth economies we displaced -- old Europe.
Yes, Nabokov had it right in Lolita: the dirty old European has soiled the young American---not young America seducing old Europe. And as in Europe, the cringing worker will be protected from those nasty economic forces that have made the USA the ultimate Faustian country, versus the Parnassian effete slackers living in the museum of a continent still stuck in a bell jar of early 20th c. class hatreds and bourgeois sensibilities. Here is more Henninger:
As noted in a 2006 World Bank report, spending in Europe on social-protection programs averages 19% of GDP (85% of it on social insurance programs), compared to 9% of GDP in the U.S. The Obama proposals send the U.S. inexorably and permanently toward European levels of social protection. This isn't an "agenda." It's a final temptation.
In partial detail:
Obama's federalized medical insurance system starts the transition away from private medical care and toward Obama's endlessly promised "universal health care." This has always been the sine qua non of planting a true, managed-market economy in the U.S.
Obama's refundable tax credits are direct cash transfers from the federal government. This would place some 48% of Americans, nearly half, out of the income tax system. More than a tax proposal, this is a deep philosophical shift, an American version of being "on the dole."
His stated intent to renegotiate free-trade agreements such as Nafta is a philosophical shift. It abandons the tradition of a hyper-competitive America dating back to the Industrial Revolution, toward a protected, domestic workforce, as in Western Europe. The Democratic proposal to eliminate private union votes -- "card check" -- ensures the spread of a static, Euro-style workforce.
Eliminating the ceiling on payroll taxes changes Social Security from an insurance to a welfare program. Obama's tax credits requires performing government-identified activities, the essence of a "directed economy."
All this would transform the animating American idea -- away from creation and toward protection.
Many voters -- progressive Democrats, the asset-safe rich, academics and college students -- regard this as where America should go. They explicitly want America's great natural energies transferred away from unwieldy economic competition and toward social construction. They want the U.S. to reduce its "footprint" in the world. Monies saved by stepping down from superpower status can be reprogrammed into "investments" (a favorite Obama word) in a vast Euro-style hammock of social protection programs.
One wishes John McCain had been better able to make clear what the truly "historic" meaning of Tuesday's vote is. Once it's done, it's done.
McCain was himself a compromise candidate who always tried to split the middle to come up with a compromise----only too late has he realized that the class-warfare Democrats want no part of his McCain/Feingold public financing or other fair play measures this honorable, but somewhat clueless fellow succumbed to while the Dems are burying him with undisclosed foreign monies that will never be traced. And when McCain said Andrew Cuomo, a Dem FanFred RICO-scammer/partner, should be put in charge of the SEC, I realized that old John is simply one election cycle past electability.
Now Chicago's [Jurassic] Hyde Park will coalesce with NYC's Upper West Side & the California Left Coasters to work DC and the USA like a rented mule.
Cash will be raining onto the Dem slacker constituencies and will convert enough MOR layabouts into addicts at the federal crystal meth palace so that participatory democracy need not rear its head again..... The "Fairness Doctrine" will keep any discouraging words from turning the sheeple against their new shepherds.