The middle of the road leads to socialism.
Ludwig von Mises
Planning For Freedom, 1962
From Ancient Rome to Karl Marx
Just like in ancient Rome, at the time of the Ides of March and the death knell of the Republic --- when the Roman populace's votes were being bought by populist political demagogues who either promised warring mobs what did not belong to them (legalized plunder) or distracted them with panen et circenses (bread and circuses) --- the American people today are being politically distracted by the media which focuses on the insignificant differences between the two major political parties (led by the moderates of the GOP in cahoots with the liberal wing of the Democratic party). And so the American electorate are getting only beltway politics-as-usual --- in the form of watered-down welfare reform, non-existent reductions in educational spending, and legerdemain Medicare cuts* --- while the time of reckoning for balancing the budget continues to be postponed. The truth is government spending continues to rise, and our duty to discharge the national debt, the future enslavement of our children, is not even being discussed. This topic is outside the liberal media's artificial frame of "respectable" political debate --- and thus, censored from public discussion.
And so with this ongoing political charade, it is no wonder only 25% of the eligible population voted in our last presidential election (1996) to reelect the president, again, with less than a majority (49%). The truth is the last presidential election offered no real choice between the two major candidates, and in Congress, despite the "conservative" Republicans retaining control, except for a band of principled, courageous House Republicans of the freshman and sophomore classes, the conservative agenda for government reform has been discarded, and the leadership and the old guard are frequently nowhere to be found.
Remember candidate Bob Dole stating there was a difference between him and President Clinton? During the debate, Bob Dole vociferated, "I want to reduce government by 20%, President Clinton by 16%." Wow! Great philosophical and moral choices in political philosophy! The pundits ask why the apathy and low turn-out at the voting booth: Again, there appears to be no significant difference between Democrats and Republicans. Just a little less of the same --- an ever-growing leviathan.
Unbeknownst to the general public, because of compromise after compromise, and betrayal after betrayal (particularly by the moderate Republicans caving-in to liberal Democrats), we have complied, in part or in toto, with all 10 planks of Marx's Communist Manifesto:**
· Abolition of property...to public purposes (i.e., application of environmental laws to confiscate private property and asset forfeiture proceedings to rob citizens accused, but not necessarily convicted, of the fruits of their labors to subsidize further plunder);
· A heavy progressive or graduated income tax (i.e., requires no comment);
· Abolition of all rights of inheritance (i.e., inheritance tax of itself is already 55% and on top of this are the usual confiscatory local, state, and federal taxes);
· Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels (i.e., see expatriate tax provisions in the Kassebaum-Kennedy Bill - why were these provisions included surreptitiously in a purportedly insurance bill?);
· Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly (i.e., the existence of the interrelated Federal Reserve, IMF, and World Bank are well known);
· Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state (i.e., FCC regulates the airwaves and the government has subsidized railroad monopolies such as Amtrak and ConRail);
· Equal liability of all to labor; establishment of industrial armies...(i.e., unions and their bosses contributing heavily to political candidates from the forced union dues of their members; minimum wage laws; employer mandates; onerous regulations stifling business and commerce);
· Free education for all children in public schools... (i.e., requires no comment; government schools have debased academic curricula, are crime ridden and devoid of the teachings of moral virtues) etc.
Yes, just like in ancient Rome, at the time of the Ides of March and the death knell of the Republic, Americans, like their ancient Roman counterparts, have become distracted with panen et circenses and satiated with politics-as-usual, totally imbued with either cynicism or apathy.
Now the "conservative" revolution of 1994 has fizzled; and the republican leadership scrambling toward the purported center of American politics, and I am sorry to say, abandoning principle for political expediency, is positioning itself as to be swept out of power by an irate American electorate unless it quickly changes course, reasserts itself and finds its lost courage.
One of the great maxims we learned from the German philosopher Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), is that man seldom learns lessons from history. Much has been said and written about the meaning and course of the November '94 "conservative" revolution and we are still analyzing what happened in the '96 election, but given the direction U.S. politics has taken, I find it astonishing that relatively little has been said and learned from the very meaningful U.S. election of 1992 and that of our northern neighbors in Canada in 1993. And more recently, as far as the May 1st British election, the media pundits have already spun their own distracting web to explain its meaning: centered around the looks, youth, and Clinton-like "New Democrat" moderation and charms of newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In view of the importance of the British elections and the parallels and similarities of the U.S. Republican party since the years of President Bush with that of the British Tories since the days of the coup against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it may be of interest to study these similitudes and understand what they may portend to the future of the U.S. Republican Party and conservatism. Also what, for instance, is the meaning of the recurring phenomenon of landslide dismissals of ostensibly "conservative" ruling parties, not just in the U.S., but, as we have intimated, also in Canada, Great Britain, France, New Zealand, etc., while creeping socialism continues to crawl steadily over all our institutions.
After the longest-lasting British Parliamentary (conservative) 18-year rule of this century, the re-invented, new "moderate" British Labor Party and its leader (the Clinton counterpart of British politics 43-year-old Tony Blair), have been swept into power in Britain, largely as a result of "conservative" indecision, flip-flops, and the dissatisfaction of British voters who have been ignored (i.e., taxes were raised and regulations increased under Prime Minister John Majors) and virtually left out of the equation of British sovereignty (i.e., while the majority of the British people oppose joining the European Monetary Union, the British elite of both parties support European unification and refuse to have a referendum on the issue).
But, we don't even have to look to Europe. In 1992, the liberal democrats retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, and sent President George Bush, the proponent of a "kinder, gentler nation," packing out of the White House. It was said to be the economy ("it's the economy, stupid"), as in any event, the pundits pontificated that "conservatives had no other place to go," and would have to vote for the reelection of George Herbert Walker Bush.
The fact remained that after repeatedly squandering the legacy of Ronald Reagan and disbanding his carefully-crafted conservative coalition, a citizen's coalition bent on genuinely decreasing the size and scope of government, the GOP faltered. President Bush and his administration, in concert with the liberal, Democrat-controlled Congress, broke his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge and signed the quota bill ("I will not sign a quota bill"), instituted unprecedented civil asset forfeitures against U.S. citizens, implemented stifling red-tape bureaucracies and crushing government regulations, and strangulated entrepreneurs with such onerous and flawed acts as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the superfluous but terribly expensive Clean Air Bill, all the while strengthening intrusive alphabet-soup agencies such as the EPA, OSHA, FDA, and BATF.
Needless to say, when you pile up insult after insult discouraging your passionate conservative base, that base erodes away and stays home on election day. The liberal left retains its base and then carries the bewildered and volatile center (depending on the state of the economy and the perception of what freebies they are getting or will be getting from government).
Likewise, in October 1993, the Canadian parliamentary elections reconfirmed the truism that when the conservative base is insulted and the line between conservatives and liberals become blurred and indistinct, support for ostensibly "conservative" parties evaporates. You see, all being equal, the liberals are believed "to feel everyone's pain!" So, I repeat, everything being equal, and with no foreign threat to our national security, the liberal left with the volatile center carries the day.
In Canada, the Progressive "Conservative" Party of Brian Mulroney, after repeatedly offending and betraying the conservative Canadian electorate and eroding its base (i.e., taxes were raised 71 times and a 7 percent value-added tax was levied), lost in an unprecedented landmark election; and after years in power, the party was literally wiped from the Canadian political landscape. The "conservatives" were severely drubbed, dropping from 153 seats to 2 seats; and the Liberal Party of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien was swept to victory, resurging from 79 seats in Parliament to 178 seats. A new, western conservative party emerged, the Reform Party led by Preston Manning, which went from 1 seat to 56 seats, and has now become the real opposition to socialism in Canada. The Separatist Bloc Quebecois Party gained 46 seats (from 8 to 54) and remains a formidable political force. (This year's elections in France and Canada do not change the picture, except for the fact the Reform Party has consolidated its gains, and has become the de facto loyal opposition.)
Are There Political Lessons to be Learned?
Regardless of the conservatism and enthusiasm (i.e., reducing the size and scope of government) of the candidates, once in office, democratic socialism is perceived as an ineluctable historic force that can not be stopped, and this attitude appears to foster politics-as-usual in the "conservative leadership" and demoralization on the rank-and-file members of Congress. Except for a band of maverick conservative Republicans in the House, the Republicans, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich (and in the Senate by the underwhelming, disappointing Trent Lott), have lost their nerve, become scared of their own shadow, and continue to play by the rules of the Democrats to the tune of the liberal media unable to wield power and save the Republic.
Are there lessons to be learned? Hegel also wrote, again correctly in my view, "nothing in this world has ever been accomplished without passion." As the American Republican Party has apparently lost its moral courage --- and its passion --- and continues its present pusillanimous course, no one should be surprised, perhaps regrettably, if a third party forging, despite their overt differences, genuine Republicans, civil libertarians, and religious conservatives, materializes.
Despite the astounding and unprecedented lapses in moral judgment (and concurrent political vulnerabilities) of the present administration in the White House, and the unparalleled corruption with campaign fund-raising scandals implicating both the Democratic National Committee and the White House (and their damaging, concomitant illegalities affecting our national security via COSCO, the Lippo group, and Communist China), no one should be surprised if the GOP fails to regain the Presidency and even loses the nominal governance of a fizzled and neutered GOP-led Congress.
* Last year during the Medicare debate much was made of the Democrats' litany: "The Republicans are seeking to cut Medicare by $270 billion to pay for tax breaks for the rich"; the reality was that the differences in the cuts (i.e., not cuts but reduction in rate of Medicare growth) between the Republicans and Democrats, in terms of beltway dollars, was insignificant.
** Much of this socialism became a fact of life during President Bush's "moderate" administration which also paved the way for the continuation of these policies under Bill Clinton. Both presidents increased taxes, supported Goals 2000 in education, increased regulations, and hailed the cryptic New World Order.
Dr. Faria is a consultant neurosurgeon and author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995) and the newly released Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (Macon, Georgia, Hacienda Publishing, Inc., 1997). He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel.
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1997;2(4):123-125. Copyright ©1997 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.