Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The Economy's the Wedge. Freedom's the Cause.

By J. Robert Smith

Could 2012 be a reprise of 1932? You know, 1932, when Republicans were hosed by FDR and the Democrats? Though this time it's Barack Obama and his Democrats who'll face voter wrath and be sent packing -- packing for that cold, far land called Ignominy.

Say 2012 is an historic election like 1932 (and 1860 before it). How will Republicans guarantee that the results go their way in a big way, a landslide way? Republicans will do it by driving the economy like a juggernaut to the November polls. Gallup is reporting that voters approve of Republicans to handle the economy by gaping margins. With the U.S. and world economic and financial situations darkening, the trust-gap on the economy should continue to widen to the GOP's advantage.

Yet while the economy is the pile-driver for GOP election fortunes, there's got to be something more, much more. Surely the economy leads for the GOP, but freedom must be the cause, the theme that undergirds the entire GOP enterprise to capture the White House and Congress.

These critical times call for nothing short of the GOP to mount a great freedom campaign. A freedom campaign must provide a high resolution contrast to the Democrats' ongoing campaign to grip America in a soft tyranny -- or a harder tyranny, eventually, if the GOP fails to convince voters of the stakes.

Let's be clear: Republicans can still lose even if they rack up impressive gains in next year's elections (we've all heard of pyrrhic victories). If Republicans choose to run on particulars -- the economy, jobs, a sound dollar, less government -- without tying up those issues in a grand package called freedom, they may just miss the historic moment, the rare opportunity to shift the nation's course tectonically, like Roosevelt and liberals did back in the 1930s.

Emerging from this decade, the nation will either be more or less free -- markedly so. There's no middle ground, and neither is a given. Not just the nation's future, but its fundamental character is up for grabs. Freedom -- not the perverted definition of freedom offered up by the left -- is imperiled.

That's why it matters greatly who the next GOP presidential nominee is. Presidential nominees set the course for their parties. The sense is that Mitt Romney, the best-funded and best-organized contender for the Republican presidential nomination, is a particulars guy, not a big-picture guy -- a fixer, not a place-setter. Establishment Republicans -- and Romney is assuredly an establishment denizen -- aren't comfortable with causes; they squirm if pressed to come up with the "vision thing," as the Bushes might sneeringly refer to a thematic approach to campaigning and governing.

Romney Republicans aren't revolutionaries. The sense is that the plurality of GOP voters backing Romney (currently a plurality, given that the conservative vote is fractured) hanker for a restoration of the country pre-Obama -- say, a return to the good old days of 2007. Then, the federal government was big but not too overtly aggressive. The economy was performing well enough. The real estate market was buoyant. No ominous dark clouds cluttered the horizon.

But if the 2012 elections are chiefly about a restoration of 2007 America, the GOP will have lost the moment, much to the distress of future generations. Left-wingers are a resilient bunch; they live for government and the power and control it confers. Merely retarding the federal government does little to effectively roadblock a resurgence of Uncle Sam's power in outlying years.

Washington needs a root-and-branch job, a sizing down that's dramatic and that makes restoring big government a frustrating, arduous task for the left. America needs a freedom revolution powerful enough to redirect the nation as the progressive revolution did in the early twentieth century. That's not to suggest that a Republican president and Congress need to accomplish a freedom agenda overnight. FDR initiated the progressive revolution, setting the course for subsequent reforms and accretions in Washington's powers over the years.

A Republican president and Congress need to be initiators, groundbreakers, who build a momentum that will roll across the republic for decades. Of course, conservatives would do well to provide the spine and the prod for Republicans throughout the 2012 election cycle and into 2013, when -- let us pray fervently -- Republicans take the reins in Washington.

The spongy establishment conservatism of a Mitt Romney isn't the antidote for what ails the country. A clarified conservatism that embraces liberty and founding principles is the remedy. Imagine a surgeon cracking a patient's chest to unclog a few arties, but who clears only two of the three. The surgeon's partial service is too partial for the patient's health and well-being. A conservative-driven freedom revolution is aimed at restoring America's health fully. Half-efforts are practically useless.

In one of those odd twists, history seems to be repeating itself. The bad old days of the early 1930s are coming back. Well, not exactly the early 1930s. It could prove much worse. So says Sir Mervyn King, who runs the Bank of England. The world and the nation may be on the verge of an economic and financial collapse that surpasses the Great Depression. Quite an accomplishment for the ruling classes, our second adolescent president (Bill Clinton being the first), and their ideologically hidebound relations in Congress. Barack Obama can blame Pop G.W. Bush all he wants, but the voters are sticking Mr. Obama and Democrats with the responsibility for not reviving the national economy.

The elections in 2012 are about more than the economy, stupid. They're about freedom, or if freedom will survive the onslaught loosed by the left, in the persons of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. No -- come to think of it, 2012 is about driving a stake through the heart of the eighty-year statist experiment that has been inflicted on the republic. It needs to be about a rebirth of freedom -- that, is if the GOP has the clear-sightedness and courage to strive mightily to do so.

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