A Need for a Debate on Fundamentals

Article excerpt


The cacophony from the left (and its politically correct echo in the mainstream media) calling for amity, negotiation and compromise to solve the current crisis is not only hypocritical and insincere but ahistorical. The American republic was born and nurtured in conflict, not only on the battlefield but also in the world of ideas. No one who has read American history can deny the virulence of the debates over fundamentals that initiated and always characterized our political discourse. That it should be true today is not only logical but virtuous.

As always in a free environment, the U.S. polity is constantly in the midst of making fundamental decisions, whether voters know it or not. But now an economic crisis has brought a studied re-examination of basic values and issues. It is only natural that the discussion would be heartfelt and contentious.

On one side, the Obama administration brought to power the '60s generation. Despite their enormous impact on popular culture, they were defeated then in their attempts to reconstitute the republic by substituting a pseudo-Marxian template. They now have slid into positions of power largely by happenstance of demography, at a time when the larger public is questioning the effectiveness of old formulae.

However much criticism President Obama gets from the left, the essence of their common worldview is cohesive: a strategy of redistribution of wealth through government fiat. It is left, therefore, largely to the Republican nominees to untangle the issues, however unsystematically.

In this process, confirming that old ideas never die, the hypothesis of the old Rockefeller Republicans - for lack of better nomenclature - has resurfaced with gusto. The concept envisions a correct political party allied with powerful business interests as the one best able to lead to a prosperous and stable future. But in this period of severe economic crisis and unusually volatile politics, that ethos is being challenged by a combination of old-fashioned populism and 19th-century American constitutionalism calling for more radical approaches.

That conflict places candidates for the Republican nomination in critical competition, a competition that can be obscured by accidents of personality, region, ethnicity, race and all the other accouterments of mass-communications politics. Mitt Romney clearly represents the Rockefeller Republican side of the argument (perhaps with a slight assist from fellow Mormon Jon Huntsman Jr. …