Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Will it matter?


Even back in the Reagan era, conservatives noted with frustration that Republicans are better as an opposition party and worse as a ruling party. Lew Rockwell gladly observes the most recent confirmation of this political truism:

Already the Republicans are toughening up, seeing the light of day. After nearly a decade of signing off on horrible legislation and looking the other way as a Republican president chewed through our liberties, they are new converts to the cause of limiting the government because a Democrat will be president.

At the same time, we are witnessing the disgusting spectacle of Bush lecturing us on the merits of the free market. After eight years of wars, the police state, bailouts, and regulations, he is newly concerned about his legacy, and so he is following the path of Hoover, who was horrible in office and better out of office. Thus is Bush, of all people, sounding like a champion of the free society.

Already, you can see that the political constellation is lining up in a way that is more friendly to the cause of liberty. The Democrats are up to their old tricks, which are transparently dumb and dated. The Republicans are responding with smart and sound criticisms. The government looks poised for a fantastic gridlock that will let the liquidation take place so that we can move toward a good recovery.

There is plenty to regret about Obama's victory, but the first impressions of the political dynamic that is playing out looks like it could mean good things for the future.

Gridlock in Washington and a painful but necessary liquidation of bad investments are just what we need. But beware, Obama may still put the PATRIOT Act to some interesting uses, and universal surveillance gives him blackmailing abilities that Billary would have drooled over.

The more important consideration is the de facto (as opposed to de jure, constitutional) role Congress plays in our decadent republic. The senators and representatives consistently demand, or at least shill for, centralized power in the hands of presidents and bureaucrats. Loot and privilege motivate them, and the nature of their opposition, when it arises, is usually but a haggling over shares of the spoils. This behavior signifies more than pride and pecuniary corruption, the inevitable attendants of politics. Morally the legislators agree with despotism. Operationally they support it, and are well content to do so even if this means enjoying only the shadow and not the substance of authority. The congressional elections go on as usual. The people are fooled into thinking they still exert some measure of control over the government. The bribes from the lobbyists continue to flow.

So I predict (it is an easy prediction) that the demands for massive bailouts, followed by yet more gargantuan bailouts, will encounter a purely formal opposition on the Hill. They will be rubber stamped, passed after a brief show of resistance (i.e., after the necessary palms have been greased), or simply enacted by executive, Treasury, and Federal Reserve fiat.

May I be horribly, embarrassingly wrong about this.

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