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Opening Arguments

A period of transition

I hope he's wrong, but I've entertained the thought a time or two myself:

On paper, given Obama’s record, this election should be a cakewalk for the Republicans. Why isn’t it? I am afraid the answer may be that the country is closer to the point of no return than most of us believed. With over 100 million Americans receiving federal welfare benefits, millions more going on Social Security disability, and many millions on top of that living on entitlement programs–not to mention enormous numbers of public employees–we may have gotten to the point where the government economy is more important, in the short term, than the real economy. My father, the least cynical of men, used to quote a political philosopher to the effect that democracy will work until people figure out they can vote themselves money. I fear that time may have come.

And I think Walter Russell Mead has a good handle on what's really going on:

As regular readers know, our view is that the US stands at an uncomfortable transition point between eras. We are between social models. The blue model of twentieth century mass production, mass consumption society based on stable corporate oligopoly, bloc voting and government regulation in a relatively closed national economy has foundered and it cannot, so far as we can see here, be restored. But we have at best only a very dim and incomplete sense of what could replace it.

This means that we are at a moment of maximum discomfort nationally, and we want our politicians and leaders to fix things — but that neither party really knows what to do. On the whole, the Democrats stand for restoring the blue model and Republicans oppose that and so far, so good. The choices between the parties seem to be growing more clear as the problems resulting from the decay of the blue model take a larger toll.

Yet neither party can offer the smooth path to a stable and affluent future that voters want. The Democrats know what they want but can’t deliver it because it is undeliverable. The Republicans know what they don’t want but are not able to describe the future they would like to see — much less show how they can manage the transition fairly and kindly because they don’t really know what the goal looks like.

I think most Americans realize, at least on some level, how bad things have gotten under the old model and that we have to move to a new model. But nobody wants to think about the transition, so we're pretending it's up there in the future somewhere instead of being upon us. The Republicans are the scarier party right now because they're at least marginally less committed to the old model.

(Via Instapundit)


Rebecca Mallory
Mon, 09/10/2012 - 2:16pm

The political philosopher the father quoted may have been  Alexander Tytler who is credited with writing: A democracy is always temporary ;  it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exsist up until the time that the voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates that promise the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

That is the reason that Obama's re-election should be a slam dunk.  There is a tipping point where the number of takers of wealth out number the number of creators of wealth, and we have probably reached that point.

In an interesting article by Mort Zuckerman, the number of people on Social Security Disability is now 11 million people (who do not work and collect a check). That number has doubled under the Obama administration.  Social Security Disability has become a defacto slush fund for the Obama re-election campaign. This is precisely Tytler's point.


Alexis de Tocqueville stated much the same idea: The American republic endure until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.

Politicians of both parties have apparently learned that lesson.