In about half an hour from now, Barrack Obama will speak to the world by means of an address to Congress. He will tell Americans that they have to stop relying on others and start relying on themselves and become responsible. He will tell them that he has started on the recovery plan, but that there will be more pain and more investment needed and he will use terrific rhetoric to explain to China and other US debt holders that he will work like Bernie Madoff to pay down the deficits and debts the US is collecting like philatelists collect stamps.
He is charming, articulate, intelligent and sharp – all the things Bush was not. He is also pretty direct and straight – all the things Clinton was not. He is also passionate – all the things the Carter was not. He has a sense of humour – one of the things Gordon Brown had surgery to remove. Most of all, he has the wind in his sails from a popular election win and solid starts on a number of fronts.
But let’s get real. Turning around an ocean liner in dry dock is a tough challenge. Doing it in a dry dock in a graveyard is very difficult, you get no help from the residents. Its pretty much a one man band. He can do a lot to restore the psychological confidence of the American people and to focus on taking personal responsibility – a key task. But many of the “grabonomic” stimulus activities will cost jobs in the long term, raise taxes and narrow the range and depth of government services. They will do so because of the indebtedness they will cause.
But there is more. As Obama pursues traditional socialist/labour party strategies – universal health care, nationalization of banks, industrial intervention in auto and financial services (“loans” to the automotive manufacturing companies – really, how naïve do you think we are Mr. President?) and government regulation of pay and benefits – the debts will get bigger. Despite the fact that some democrat economists, like Peter Krugman, urge more stimulus and more government, these basic socialist responses have consequences. Capitalist America will need to turn socialist to embrace the strategy that Obama is pursuing.
Obama is helped by the intellectual bankruptcy of the Grand Old Party – Republicans. While the media fusses about who will lead the GOP, given the marginal defeat of McCain/Palin in the November election (remember – Obama didn’t get a stunning majority in the popular vote, only in the electoral college – good job the US never really bought into direct elections by the people) – the real challenge is what the GOP stands for.
It is the same challenge in Britain. Brown’s socialistic takeover of the commanding heights of the British economy and the means of production will lead to his defeat if David Cameron, the Conservative Leader, can present a viable policy alternative. Part of the problem that Cameron has is that he is clearly a better communicator and a strong presence, but what is it that he stands for.
Until the GOP in the US and the Conservative in Britain develop a reasoned, rational political agenda which addresses fundamental challenges of responsibility, smaller government, fiscal accountability and management and new organizations for the knowledge economy, Obama will ride the waves and easily win a second term, even if a republican George Cluny or Bradolina ran against him. It’s ideas presented with passion, intelligence and conviction which win elections. Lets face, the GoP is right out of ideas.