Originally published by Mike gamecock DeVine as Legal Editor for The Minority Report under the title: Minority, report for conservative counter-punching crisis duty
The world changed on September 11, 2001. Republicans mostly got it and made GOP electoral history by gaining House and Senate seats in the next two elections. President Bush was re-elected.
Seems so long ago, doesn’t it? This is especially so, since the world changed again on September 6, 2008 when the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were announced leading an Election Day triumph that leaves the Democratic Party in control of Congress and the White House with a crisis as cover for “stimuli” enactment of forty year old liberal dreams.
Too many conservatives seem not to get it this time with their knee-jerk objections to any government spending either to stabilize the banking system or put some of the half million unemployed to work on public works projects.
What does this crisis mean for conservatives anxious to re-establish their small government brand after eight years of “compassionate big government” Bush conservatism?
It means that we must adjust our goals and embrace the conservative value of delayed gratification on that issue because the economic crisis is too large to be confronted by small, just say no’s.
For the record, after seven columns analyzing the Paulson Panic Prevention Plan in the 18 days between Fannie Sunday and congressional enactment, I came out against the plan. It was a close call since Republicans did greatly improve the final product and since a failure to act risked a collapse of the financial system. The financial system did not collapse and there are some signs that the plan is starting to work on those clogged new loan arteries, but the jury is still out and probably will be for years as America has hard times for years due to excesses born of an affluent society and many years of bad government policies that have prevented Americans from thriving in a less regulated economic environment.
But the root word of conservatism is “conserve”, and sometimes that requires a big government to fight wars to conserve Liberty and to act to survive economic crises.
Of course, the details matter, whether they are the small details of a public works bill or the huge detail that has relegated Republicans to near powerlessness in Washington, D.C.
Our message and strategy must be tailored to the paradigm shift that is the worst economic crisis since 1929 and our minority status. Clearly, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have not repeated many of the mistakes made by officials in the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations. They may be making new mistakes of their own as many Democratic Party leaders and the President-Elect are determined to enact their own Smoot-Hawleys and New Deals that caused investors to go on strike for a decade, but those facts do not make a simplistic conservative reactionism electorally viable.
The crisis precludes the small government message for a time, and truth be told, the best we ever did with this message was slow the growth of government. We never devised a saleable plan to actually make government smaller, much less actually reduce it, either under Reagan or Gingrich. Then, we endured President Bush’s massive growth of government for all of the naughts so far.
Now that we are “free” of Bush, we naturally want to re-claim the Republican brand.
Fine, but all branding must now address the crisis. And keep in mind that odds are that the economy will eventually recover, probably before 2012, and we can’t abandon the field for a President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to claim credit.
No, we must seize opportunities to counter-punch with our values as we are seen as part of the problem solving solutions.
On public works, touted by Obama as a jobs program, we can expose the trial lawyer and environmental job killers that have bought the Democratic Party to a crisis inspired attentive public.
When the Democrats refuse to follow up on the expiration of the off-shore oil drilling moratorium, and possibly even re-establish same, we can expose that job killer move to the attentive unemployed.
When Obama seeks to bankrupt the coal industry that electrifies half of America, we can be the champion of his victims.
We must be “yes, and” advocates with respect to much of Obama’s Keynesianism. Fine Mr. President, that’s all well and good, but how about unleashing Americans from the shackles of high taxes and onerous regulations to form small businesses, drill for oil in new areas and build nuclear power plants and oil refineries.
If Obama responds with crocodile tears for saving the planet or snail darters in this crisis, he will accelerate the day he will be a lame duck.
Conservatives have to be smart and attentive to seize opportunities to hold Democrats accountable for their actions and inaction at the behest of the far left that has owned them for four decades.
But we will lose the ear of the American people if all they hear from us is a one-string small government banjo playing a song limited to the lyric of “no”.
We live in a post Fannie world and if we are to save our fannies from perpetual minority status, we must never forget the losses of the 9/10 democrats.
Mike DeVine’s Examiner.com and Charlotte Observer columns
"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson