At a time when the left has swung the pendulum hard to the left in both the UK and the US, at a time when the electorate of both US and UK appears poised for a massive move to the right, the "conservative" parties - the Tories in the UK, the Republicans in the U.S. - seem far from up to the task. When we need Churchill and Reagan, we instead have leaders in the mold of Clement Attlee and Herbert Hoover. The problem is particularly acute in the UK.
In the post below, I address the problems of the UK and its "conservative party." By comparison, our problems in the U.S. are not as dire as those of Britain's, largely because our democracy is much more representative than is their's. Yet in some ways, our problems are not dissimilar. In both countries, the left has pushed our nation's so far to the left that the economies and the very fabric of our societies are threatened. Further, today, neither in the UK nor in the U.S. is there a sufficiently strong leader on the right to stem the tide. For the UK, four weeks from their next election, that fact is disastrous. For we in the U.S., it is not yet at that point given that we are about two years out from having to decide who will be the Republican nominee. Yet the problems that they will face will be every bit as daunting as those faced in the UK:
- Between massive deficit spending and out of control entitlement programs, our economy is approaching a potentially existential crisis:
The U.S. government has $12.5 trillion of funded debt, almost 90% of last year’s GDP. That is a critical level according to Reinhart and Rogoff based on their 800-year study of sovereign bankruptcies. Serious, funded debt is not the major problem. Unfunded entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) are. These are estimated to be $106 trillion.
And still Obama continues a world record spending spree.
- the left wars on business (non-union businesses, at least) and the profit motive. Given the Obama plan to let many of the Bush era tax cuts expire and given the murmurings about a VAT tax, it appears that Obama's next grand act will be an attempt to tax us into prosperity.
- the war on business has resulted in persistent and staggering unemployment in America. "The U-6 unemployment number . . . is at 17.5%, within 0.5% of its all-time high. This figure includes discouraged workers who've stopped looking, marginally attached workers, and workers that are forced to work part-time because full-time jobs are not available."
- the enactment of Obamacare portends to only worsen our fiscal crisis while doing nothing to alleviate the severe crises posed by are already existing entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicare, Medicade and S-CHIP to name but a few.
- Public sector unions, only allowed in America since the days of JFK, are a toxin in America. They have perverse incentives to push for bigger government and higher taxes and they operate unchecked by market forces. They degrade performance in every aspect of the government where they exist and are a particular problem in education. The average public sector union worker now makes significantly more than their private sector counterparts - and they are destroying state and local economies with massive unfunded pension liabilities.
- Regulatory burdens, particularly in the area of environmentalism where the left has handed the keys to the courthouse to the radical greens, with untold costs to our economy. Moreover, in a move that bypasses Congressional refusal to enact cap and trade, the EPA recently announced that they will begin regulating carbon - in what portends to be a significant cost to our economy.
- Proposed regulatory changes to our financial structure that will place significantly greater racially charged lending standards on our financial institutions, despite the fact that this same degradation of lending standards led in large part to our current financial meltdown.
- The removing of any caps on the liability that will be underwritten by the U.S. government from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- The left continues to feed the race baiting industry beyond long after we passed any rational justification. It is time to bring an end to affirmative action as well as any and all use of the disparate impact theory to punish entities for racism despite no evidence of any act of racism. It should be noted that Obama wants to expand the disparate impact theory as part of the new financial regulations.
- our Courts are regularly legislating from the bench, reinterpreting Constitutional provisions in a manner far outside of the original intent of the drafters to bypass the ballot box on contentious social issues, ripping at the fabric of our nation. We could really use a Constitutional Amendment on this issue to provide some guidance to the Courts on how to execute their Article III duties.
All of the above are simply domestic problems - and the last two our my own issues that are not as pressing as the rest, but that do need to be addressed as part of a radical reorientation of our domestic polity. None of this even begins to touch upon the problems Obama and the left are causing in foreign policy.
Whoever is to tackle all of these problems in a decisive manner will have to be highly intelligent, articulate, and sufficiently driven by internalized conservative idealism to withstand the type of massive assault in the left wing MSM that will come with applying conservative solutions to the above problems - many of which will of necessity mean reorienting America away from the left wing path it has been on since at least FDR. Moreover, we are going to need a reorientation that has as its absolute focus the growth of businesses of all size - we are in a hole where the only answer to both our deficit and our undemployment problem is to grow ourselves out of both. Do we have a leader that strong on the horizon to accomplish all of these things?
Perhaps we do. I think New Gingrich fits that bill. I would also watch closely Paul Ryan and Chris Christie. I think all others are a level below these three in intellect, if not also in the intestinal fortitude needed to lead the type of radical reorientation our nation needs to survive, let alone to remain as first among equals.
Newt Gingrich - He is an absolutely brilliant man and a highly articulate speaker. Compliments of the MSM smear machine in the 1990's, many in the left and center have negative views of Gingrich, though it is doubtful those general views are today sufficiently strongly held to disqualify him from making a run. Of all the potential candidates, I would think him most qualified and the most likely to be able to address the many problems of our country itemized above.
Paul Ryan - I do not know enough about him yet to put a gold star next to his name, but his performance during the televised dog and pony shows with Obama have shown him to be articulate and in possession of a first class intellect. It is also notable that he is the only one, of all the Republicans in Congress, to actually publish an alternative to Obamacare. He is one to further evaluate.
Chris Christie - This man impresses ever more on a daily basis. He faces many of the problems in governing New Jersey that our nation faces on a grander scale. He is demonstrating daily a strong intellect and an even more impressive hard as nails approach to the problems of New Jersey. If he succeeds in turning around New Jersey in any cognizant fashion, he will definitely be a person to watch - if not in the 2012 election, then in 2016 and beyond. He has already demonstrated the combativeness and cajones necessary to push through the radical reorientation our country needs and he, unlike George Bush and much of the Republican Party, has also shown a willingness to push back hard against the smears of the left.
Then there are the lessers and the long shots:
Sarah Palin - as much as I like her, I don't see her as sufficiently rounded to make a run for the Presidency. I think her decision to give up her governership not even half way through her term was fatal to a bid for 2012. Perhaps in 2016 she might have a chance.
Mitt Romney - His claim to fame was his economic smarts. But the simple fact is that he designed Obamacare for Massachusetts. Either his economic smarts are vastly over-rated or this man is an incredibly cynical political opportunist. Regardless which, we can afford neither in office beyond 2012, and thus I won't be pulling a lever for him under any circumstances.
Mike Huckabee - his foreign policy views were what turned me against him during the last primary and nothing since has occurred since that would lead me to believe that he has gained strength in that area. That said, I do like his Fox shows.
Ron Paul - I would vote for Obama before I would vote for Paul. He really is a few McNuggets short of a Happy Meal.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty - I do not know enough about him at this point to make a decision on Pawlenty. I have heard him speak a few times and have not walked away with either a positive or negative impression. Perhaps that itself says all that needs to be said.
We will see who rises to the top over the next year. The other critical issue will be gaining conservatives in sufficient numbers in Congress. At any point in my lifetime, I would not have thought that possible. But today, given the path to the far left Obama is pushing us and the strength of the Tea Party movement - I now think it very possible.