“No modern society could function under a libertarian government, which is why none exists,” says a reporter in today’s Doonesbury, poking fun at Ron Paul for his utopian delusions.
Well said, though it could be pointed out that no modern economy has enjoyed enduring prosperity under the kind of “small government” raw capitalism that all the GOP candidates espouse. Those eras in which we got too close to this small government model led directly to economic crashes and widespread suffering. Exhibit A: the economic collapse of 1929 which followed a reign of unbridled, pro-corporate, Republican conservatism.
Republican leaders seem to love the idea of small government because it will give rich people, and the corporations on which their wealth is based, more power. This power would come at the expense of the rest of us, who depend on democratic government to protect us from exploitation by the rich and powerful.
It’s peculiar that any middle class voters would support a program aimed specifically against their own economic interests. The explanation for this support seems to lie in the GOP’s success at promoting the idea that democratic government is the enemy of democracy. “Freedom,” the conservatives argue, will be enhanced if we restrict government and thereby further empower the corporations which already dominate our economy – and which, by the way, operate on a “one-dollar/one-vote” principle.
The good news is that lately the GOP primary candidates have been effectively beating each other up. They seem like nothing so much as a pack of drunken kangaroos as they smash wildly against each other. Gingrich says Romney is a politician with no enduring principles and Romney says Gingrich is a loose cannon unfit for the White House. I’m inclined to agree with both of them.
Of the two, Gingrich would make the worse president. He resembles Dick Cheney in his ethical standards, but he has less charm than the former vice president, and an even scarier wife. God forbid that he would ever make it to the White House, but if he did, the end times would surely be near. The only reason he is attracting almost as much support as Romney in the primaries is that he is so damn mean that Republicans who hate the president keep picturing him being vicious and nasty in debates against Obama.
It is still all but certain that Romney will get the nomination, despite Gingrich’s recent surge. As president, it is hard to say what he would do since he apparently would do whatever he thought would get him re-elected. This is one reason why so many Republicans don’t like him. He doesn’t appear to believe in anything except advancing his own interests.
For those of us who believe that the Constitution is not just something to talk about, but is actually the document on which our government and our freedoms are based, none of these fanatic, small-government Republicans would make an acceptable president. Weakening the government would only diminish the power of the Constitution to enhance our rights. The causal chain is direct: it runs from us, the citizenry, through the Constitution into the hands of our elected representatives. To weaken any link in this chain would only strengthen the hands of the oil, tobacco, drug and insurance companies as well as the banks. And if they were to be so strengthened, we could not expect them to do right by us.
A libertarian society, in which every individual struggles against every other, is a society in which those controlling concentrated wealth control everything. That is not the American Dream, though messrs. Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum would have us believe that it is.
From the Archives: Dining in July 1815
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