Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Trust Deficit

Perhaps the most immoral choice made by democrats in the last ten years was the decision to attack Republicans solely on the basis of partisan goals. Consequently, the hundreds of democrats in the House and Senate who voted for the Iraq War feigned indignation at the war’s costs, ignoring success and the threat of terrorism in order to gain political leverage. Pleas by Bush to address Social Security and Medicare reform went unheeded, although democrats would later blame the President for their own dishonesty. Democrats nominated a man they knew to be unprepared for the office, simply because their lust for power was far greater than their last few glimmers of love for their country. Nine of every ten democrats has sold his soul for power, and could not care less how many Americans he hurts, so long as he gets re-elected.

Republicans see the rising anger in the eyes and voices of Americans, and many of them think they can turn this to their advantage in 2010 or 2012. But they forget how far they have left the road of moral leadership. The GOP tolerated Larry Craig, they resisted President Bush when he led like a conservative but rode along when he proposed liberal budgets and found no voice to oppose earmarks or corruption in politics. The GOP likes to imagine they are the party of Reagan, but not one of them evokes comparison with the Gipper. True, John McCain would have been a significantly better choice for President than Barack Obama, but that is only because Obama is so horribly incompetent and dishonest; there was no real conservative among the leading candidates, partly because none of the GOP leadership wanted one. America has not yet forgotten how few of its promises the republican party kept during the years it held power. So only a great fool, which is to say a politician, would imagine that incompetency and dishonesty by democrats would mean a return to the pachyderm’s glory days. It’s just not going to play out that way.

Ronald Reagan was probably the greatest President of the twentieth century, not least because he was the only president to rebuild much of the public trust in the office. But since he left office, the brand has quickly eroded. Some of that comes from character assassination, especially by the mainstream media, but it was also spurred by an incredibly clumsy history of bad judgment, personal arrogance, and rejection of common-sense thinking. It’s difficult to imagine a president counting terrorists and despots as moral equals to democratically-elected leaders, or imagining that Moscow would hold a worldview comparable to that of the average American, or promoting laws to essentially cause banks to ignore risk evaluations in mortgages, or to ignore radical terrorist groups which publicly declare their desire to kill Americans, or that massive government programs would result in effective improvements in education and medicine, or that terrorists should enjoy the same civil rights as decent citizens, or that the best way to create new employment would be to punish the people who create and run companies, but all of those things have happened.

To put it plainly, the American people do not trust the politicians. Democrats grabbed power in 2006 and the White House in 2008 largely by lying about the situation and what they promised to do, but they will only be voted out if the public sees a more trustworthy alternative. If republicans truly want to regain the power they had before, they will have to show that they have reformed and are worthy of the responsibility. As for the democrats, they can and will play on fear and prejudice to hold onto their seats, but in the end this will kill their party unless the few democrats with scruples left, the ones who remember what their party once stood for, reform their party as well. It has become difficult to kill off an obsolete party, but the Whigs died because they became completely useless to the nation; the republicans and democrats had better learn from that history. If things continue as they are now, then no matter who hold office, the public will treat the federal government with all the contempt it has richly earned, and eventually no policy or program will have a chance of success, because its source is an illegitimate government, a bastard set of dictators.