By Ronald Glenn
The Republican party may have lost the fight over the stimulus package, but it could lose more fights in the months ahead because of a a single, terrible liability that could doom whatever ideas it presents: The GOP does not have a single, great, alternative leader, a wordsmith with a ebullient personality, in Congress to counteract President Obama.
The political landscape in America has, more often than not, been tied to a singular, often charismatic leader. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Throughout leftist history in the 20th century, after all, the fight between the cult of personality and the battlefield of ideas has been a long and sordid one. There were many political voices in the early twentieth century who expressed the belief that if Leon Trostsky had run the Soviet Union instead of Joseph Stalin, everything under the good old commies would have been just fine. This lets the communist system off the hook, blaming the failures on the individual politicians instead of the system. To those perpetual blame-shifters on the left, there is no such things as bed leftism, just bad leaders.
This kind of thinking has carried over into America’s current situation. The Democratic Party, through President Obama, keeps promoting that it has “new ideas” that will replace the tired ideas of the past. Obama and the Democrats, it seems, may be taking direction from to Aesop, who once wrote that “after all is said and done, more is said than done.” Spending a lot of government money for pork, for example, is not a new idea. However, it is promoted by a new politician. Barack Obama. And that makes all the difference.
The American public has placed their hopes in a man, ignoring the fundamental lack of genuine innovation in the current regime. “New ideas” has become a substitute for Democratic carte blanche. Many of the people I have spoken with over the last few days have shown a remarkable disinterest in the specifics of the stimulus bill, instead allowing any faith in the bill to rest solely on their opinion about Barack Obama. In an overt slap to the face for former President Bush, I even had two people tell me they were glad we now have a “smart” president who can “speak well.” At the end of the day, however, these same two people did not know anything about the $800 billion dollar spending bill except what they had heard from the mouth of Obama himself — that it would “put money in the economy.” That, for them, was enough.
This is why it is so difficult to fight a battle of ideas. People often put their faith in personalities rather than ideas, since ideas can change with the wind and what a politician often says does not matter anyway. Like it or not, the Republican Party needs a national spokesperson and, as I previously wrote here at America’s Right, a coherent national platform. If the party cannot find such a figure to lead by example and lead with principles backed by personality, the GOP and its message will be excoriated by the left as a collection of shrill, cluttered voices.
For better or worse, George Bush and Dick Cheney had the attention of the press for eight years. Unfortunately, the Republicans now may not find that voice until the state of the economy gets worse in spite of the stimulus, allowing for the public to cast aside–or at the very least temper–the addiction to personality over ideas and be willing to listen to a voice that is not Democratic.
The Republicans face tough political times ahead. They must be prepared for the classic attack of being the “enemy within.” If the stimulus does not work, the Democrats will have to find a scapegoat, and it will not be Nancy Pelosi. They will place the blame firmly at the feet of the Republicans. They will argue that the Republicans made the mess, and have been unwilling to find a solution. They will, as liberal talk radio host Mike Malloy says, be “domestic terrorists.” When a government refuses to face its own mistakes, it will go after the opposition. And this mainstream media will be more than complicitous.
This is precisely what happened in the Soviet Union — the socialist policies failed and, subsequently, the political terror began. Where will it begin in America? My guess is that it will begin with the Fairness Doctrine. The first thing a good leftist does, after all, is figure out a way to make the opposition shut up. After that is accomplished, the next move will be to falsify the outcomes of their own policies. Any way you look at it, in six months’ time, the truth is going to be hard to find. Economy still struggling despite the influx of billions in borrowed and printed cash? It wasn’t that the stimulus failed, they’ll say, instead think of how much worse it would have been if we didn’t act!
George Bush was not a saint in this regard, either. For example, during his tenure, the government simply stopped reporting on how much money was being put into circulation. They just stopped. Similarly, there will inevitably be much the Obama regime does not tell us. Just for starters, do you really think they intend to keep track of where all this stimulus money is really going? And, even if they did know exactly how much waste there was, would they admit to it?.
You and I both know the answer to that.
Above all else, the Democrats will do anything to preserve the image of President Barack Obama. As long as the Saint keeps his halo, he will keep his status and, with sainthood, it tends to be all or nothing. George Bush lost his post-9/11 sainthood in the sands of Iraq. If Obama does not lose his sainthood because of the aftereffects of this stimulus package, the Republicans will be in for a long fight of their own.
He and the Democrats must be held accountable. To do that, we must preserve free speech at all costs. Those on the political left know they cannot compete on ideas alone, and therefore will do anything possible to replace free speech with controlled speech. Watch for the signs, and tell others to do the same.
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.