posted on Nov, 19 2012 @ 10:23 AM
There has been a lot of finger pointing going on since the election about why Romney couldn't win in spite of the failing economy and widespread
dislike of many of Obama's policies. Romney seems to think its because Obama gives away "free stuff" to his constituents but fails to see the
actual weaknesses in his own economic policies.
The biggest problem with government getting out of the way of business and allowing them to make profits unrestrained by government is the fact that,
under this system, there will be winners and losers and often those losers will be the working classes who have their jobs outsourced to 3rd world
countries where slave labor is prevalent.
Republicans seem to believe that as long as big corporations are making big profits, everything else will fall into line and everyone will benefit
from the economic boom that will result. They always seem to forget that, in every economic system, there will be some (or many in the case of
globalism) who will fall through the cracks. The Republican system fails to account for those who fall through the cracks and does not provide a
safety net for them.
A few right wing bloggers seem to have caught on to this point. Hopefully, the Republican party will realize their blind spot before it dooms them to
What today’s Republican Party can’t seem to get its mind around is that globalization has disoriented and disadvantaged large portions of
American society, just as industrialization did more than one hundred years ago. Democrats aren’t “creating dependency” by inventing social
programs, they’re responding to the social reality in the way progressives have for more than a century. I’m not in favor of the progressive
approach, but the fantasy that politics is simply about everybody getting the best deal for themselves is absurd. We have an instinct for solidarity,
not just self interest.
The American Conservative
Strong national government and federal supremacy have been with us since the Lincoln administration, but you can see its root system in the Adams
administration. Michael Lind has been an essential source for the “developmental economic” history of the Unites States. If I can sum his work in
one sentence, I would put it like this: The story of America, from Hamilton to Lincoln to the New Deal to World II, has been one of state-promoted —
not state-run — industrial capitalism and American Dream-ism. The “neoliberal” adjustments of the 1970s and the Reagan-Clinton era did not
replace this system, but rather enmeshed it in the lean-and-mean world of global finance and multinational corporations.
Obama’s mission, as he sees it (or as I think he sees it), is to try to revive the high middle-class living standards of the mid-20th-century in
this neoliberal world. “Advanced manufacturing,” new infrastructure, high-tech energy, and higher education are the key components of Obama’s
vision of re-industrialization. Republicans have reacted to Obamanomics as if 1) it is akin to socialism or European social democracy; and 2) they do
not practice a similar brand of state-promoted capitalism themselves (military-industrial complex, anyone?).
It has always seemed to me that there’s a basic incoherence in the message of economic conservatism. If you free up the market–cut regulation,
increase foreign trade, etc.–then you are inherently exposing certain people to more economic risk. Now, this may be justifiable on the grounds that
it increases the overall wealth of society. But if you simultaneously argue for slashing the welfare state and public services, then what happens to
the “losers” whose economic fortunes are worsened by the market’s “creative destruction”? A cynical view of the matter–and one with some
truth to it, I think–is that this is a feature, not a bug of the conservative economic worldview. That is, the whole point is to reduce the power of
the middle and lower classes relative to the rich.
But assuming charitably that conservatives are interested in increasing everybody’s well-being, a more coherent approach might be a
“Nordic“-style model that combines a liberalized market with a universal safety net and robust public services. This model upholds the values of
economic freedom that conservatives claim to cherish, but also recognizes that government action is needed to blunt the sharper edges of the market
and ensure universal access to basic goods. However, given its reliance on high levels of taxes and public spending (not to mention
its–ew!–European-ness), I have a hard time seeing such a vision catching on among American conservatives.
Hopefully, the soul searching brought on by the past election will force the party to come to the conclusion that, while economic liberalism may be
the path they chose to follow, they cannot advance on this path without providing a safety net for those who will inevitably be dispossessed by the
economic changeover. Like they pointed out; the current globalization is hurting the common worker in much the way industrialization did in the last
century. If conservatives fail to take into account the many that will be adversely affected by their economic policies, they are doomed to failure.