Politics

THE INTERNAL CRITIQUE WENT AWOL

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By David Beilstein

BEFORE the 2012 presidential election, I posted this.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20 — but there were classical liberal voices with large audience saturation claiming this ideological turf. But Republican candidates demurred. They never made the case, that in action; it was Barack Obama and Democratic majorities who were the continuation of the ruinous spending policies of the Bush years.

In ignoring this political angle, Republicans allowed President Obama to paint himself as diametrically opposed to major Bush policy positions perceived to be a failure by the majority of the electorate. Such Republican silence allowed Obama to pivot, producing fear in an electorate that electing Mitt Romney would be a return back to the Bush years, which would be worse in the eyes of the electorate.

Let’s face facts: a majority of the electorate was better off from 1995-2001 than in 2008.

Economic performance and unemployment were better under Bush than in 2000. In fact, unemployment in the middle of Bush’s two-term presidency was at 30-year lows. Bush’s reduction of marginal rates increased tax revenues into the Federal treasury substantially.

But President Bush also spent like a wealthy patron diagnosed with terminal cancer, erasing the entire effectiveness of increased treasury revenue through marginal rate reduction. This destroyed the reputation of supply-side economics even though large reduction in spending is uniformly part and parcel to supply-sider philosophy as tax reduction. Add to this a titanic financial collapse and the catastrophe of the Iraq War and all those gains in the eyes of voters were erased — creating a stubbornly negative impression of those years economically and globally for a majority of Americans.

Trust in Republican competence was thus impeached. How long? It depends on if the GOP gets serious.

There are parameters for the presidency. The two large issues that sink political parties’ ascendancy to the rarefied air of the presidency are foreign policy competence and overall monetary stability. Both were uniformly impoverished on George W. Bush’s watch — a Republican.

It should not be surprising then, especially since Bush’s predecessor — President Clinton — was perceived to be great success economically and globally. And Clinton was a Democrat. Let us remember that 16.5 million new voters came upon the scene post the 2008 presidential election.

How many new voters have emerged since the height of Republican success — some twenty-odd years ago?

Republican challenger Mitt Romney tried to distance himself from Bush era mistakes in the Town Hall Debate. He offered different policy positions from the Bush administration and even went so far as to say; his plans had not been tried. But a major attack upon the Obama first term by team Romney should have been an illustration of how the Obama administration had doubled-down on the policies that led to economic and foreign policy miasma under President Bush.

George W. Bush’s spending is chronicled here. But Obama spent more.

I never heard Republican candidates make that case. I did hear constitutional conservatives and libertarians make the case. It certainly is unfashionable to go after fellow members of the Republican Party, but clarity is gold in political campaigns. And a Republican Party that supposedly believes in limited government (it doesn’t!) has a responsibility to point out where it has been derelict.

There is also the consequence of ideological philosophy. A belief in limited government must be followed through. Consistently. The cultural concerns of the GOP and its base are relevant. There are problems with American culture. The problem is government cannot fix those ills and empowering more government to do so mires the Grand Old Party into intractable contradictions.

Such actions by the GOP also accepts the progressive ideological premises of the function of government before a single policy is elucidated. Large contradictions in ideology deflate any confidence voters have a political entity is serious — or sincere.

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