By Ronald Glenn
In the past few days and those coming in the immediate future, there has been and there will be a lot of pointed attacks against the economic stimulus package recently passed by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The criticism, as demonstrated by the articles here at America’s Right, have by and large been on target and necessary. Further perspective, and indeed some less-technical criticism which does not touch on specific pork, can be found in our own recent history.
When the first attempt at the new John F. Kennedy manifestation was elected president in 1992 in the bodily incarnation of William Jefferson Clinton, the left promoted the revolutionary concept that the former Arkansas governor represented the “new American politician,” a political superman charged with combining liberal social policy and conservative economics. This was promoted by the urban college effete who wanted to be multi-millionaire capitalists yet still have access to every liberal vice whenever they so desired. At worst, it was a corporate-sponsored crack-and-hooker party; at best, it was The Jerry Springer Show.
President Barack Obama is the new incarnation of the old incarnation, a failed attempt if, in fact, it was ever sincerely attempted at all. Now, in the first few weeks in office, Obama is selling this stimulus package as a way to save capitalism with the same fervor as a carnival huckster. Of course, this is not liberal politics according to him, you see. He is doing what is necessary to preserve the affluence created by the conservative values of hard work and keeping what you earn. If his comrades and he spend trillions, they will be the real capitalists. Bankers, the logic goes, have been proven to be the real liberal spenders because they buy private jets.
At the same time, President Obama is signing every liberal executive order placed on the desk in front of him. The first volley on the liberal attitude toward abortion was already placed in the forefront in Obama’s first week in office, for example, when he overturned the so-called “Mexico City Policy,” former President Bush’s order concerning international pregnancy counseling. We can expect him to venture much deeper into the liberal social agenda throughout the next four years.
A liberal social agenda requires lots of government cash to make it work. All liberal social agendas–including ACORN–must be vigorously promoted and, since they are deemed to be “for the public good,” such agendas and programs will be promoted through government. At further cost, if legislation is passed to enforce certain aspects of the agenda, enforcement of those laws is required. During the 1980s, the conservative and liberal agendas under Ronald Reagan and the Democratic Congress were both allowed to exist because each side, one represented by Reagan and the other by Tip O’Neill, agreed to compromise and, for the most part, give the other side what it wanted. Reagan had defense, the congress had social spending. Now, in 2009, the Democrats have it all. In order to silence conservative critics, therefore, Obama is going to attempt to portray himself as strong on defense and the champion of a strong economy.
Is is possible to be a liberal on social issues and a fiscal conservative? The stimulus package tells us the answer is no. One of the basic premises of the conservative movement is the belief that good government gives its citizens greater freedom, not less. All this money will do is make the American public more dependent upon government, and since the stimulus is unlikely to fix the economy in any significant way, the public will become more and more dependent on government expenditures. This will be especially true if Obama has his way and puts America on the road to socialized medicine. Like the pimple-faced pre-teen given his first taste of a hard drug for free, once Obama gives the American people a taste of health care for children or any one of the liberals’ government-expanding pet projects, the people will become hooked and the conservatives will always be painted as the ones trying to take it away.
However, one thing has changed in the since President Clinton’s election — America and the American people are far more willing to accept government solutions than they were twenty-five years ago. Unfortunately, President Bush only added to that willingness by passing his own versions of government solutions tied up in the largest deficits in American history.
Knowing all of this and keeping an eye on recent American history, the Republican party must not allow itself to go soft on the social issues and concentrate solely on the economy. The social issues and the economic issues are one. Social responsibility and economic responsibility are one. To split them apart as if they have nothing to do with each other would be to re-live the nightmarish Clinton era, where he even tried to convince us that the personal conduct of the president had nothing to do with how he performed his job. By now, we should know better than that.
Ronald Glenn has worked in real estate and law for more than twenty years. He now works in Philadelphia, and lives outside the city with his wife. Ron has been writing for America’s Right since January 2009.