home  |  book  |  blogs  |   RSS  |  contact  |

Invisible Hand vs. Clenched Fist Is America Ready for a Christian President?

print view

What Third Rail?

by Christopher Chantrill
September 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

|

NANCY PELOSI has three words for the Democrats’ campaign in 2012: Medicare, Medicare, Medicare. We’ve already seen a sneak preview of this strategy in the delicately crafted YouTube video of Rep. Ryan trundling grannie off a cliff. Republicans are supposed to be cowering in fear.

If Social Security is the “third rail” of American politics, Medicare is the “overhead wire.” Third rails are normally energized at about 700 volts, whereas the overhead wires for President Obama’s very fast trains usually come in at 25,000 volts.

Yet last week Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry in his first debate outing doubled down on Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” inviting a street fight on the issue. Does Perry know something we don’t?

Obviously Perry and his already notorious consultant, Dave Carney, figure that the game has changed. Are they right? If they are, it means that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are making a grand strategic error.

Back in the old days, when seniors dwelt in the Garden of Eden of the United States with a AAA credit rating, the only way you could frighten seniors was with Social Security demagoguery and Mediscare. Today in the Great Recession there are fears everywhere you turn, starting with Jobs and Debt.

Seniors are worrying just as much about the pathetic interest they are getting on their savings accounts and the rising prices at the grocery store as the problems of Medicare. Then there are the would-be seniors, with 401(k)s bashed about by the Great Recession. If only they could retire and start to worry about Medicare cuts.

Today when Nancy Pelosi says “Medicare!” an astute politician can reply: OK, so let’s forget about protecting kids from mercury poisoning. It is fatuous to insist, as the president did on Thursday, that we can do everything. Governing is choosing. Most Americans can see, with the economy teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession, that if you don’t choose you risk flushing America down the toilet

All politicians like to frighten the voters. The question is: can you scare more voters with “third rail” or with “Ponzi scheme?” Rick Perry is signalling that he’s ready to play sound-bite volleyball on entitlements.

For decades, ever since FDR, the Democrats were the perennial champions of sound-bite politics. You’d watch a Republican on the stump and just hope that he’d avoid the dreadful “gaffe” that would put him on the defensive for weeks. Bill Clinton was the master of the game; he knew exactly what to say and how to say it. They retired his number after he left the White House.

But now the presidential election of 2012 is shaping up as a contest between the TelePrompTer president and an Aggie All-American. All of a sudden it’s the Republican that’s spiking the ball over the net and the Democrat that’s struggling to return it.

Of course, we should have seen this coming. Remember Misty and Kerri, the US beach-volleyball gold medalists at the 2008 Olympics, with President Bush?

Let the Democrats limber up for one more college try out of the old Mediscare playbook. The rest of us have other fish to fry. What does it mean, for instance, that Republican candidates like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry so obviously lack the proper breeding? These days, an American matron out of the upper-middle class looks for her child to marry someone with the right degrees out of the right universities. Yet Palin and Perry hale from Podunk U, and Bachmann from the conservative Christian universities developed by the likes of Jerry Falwell.

It wasn’t long ago that Richard Florida was touting “ideopolises” in The Rise of the Creative Class, and Judis and Teixeira were boosting The Emerging Democratic Majority. They saw an American future with well-schooled creative types leading a grateful corps of women and minorities into an elite-guided future. The politics of Palin, Bachmann, and Perry represents a nasty surprise for this vision of the future. Where did those yahoos come from? Why, Rick Perry reportedly dotted the I in “Rick” for a fan recently with a big heart.

It’s really not that hard. Most American women want a decent marriage for themselves and a decent future for their children. Men too. Mediscare, flatulent stimuli and red meat for the Democratic base are rather beside the point for such voters. They are working towards a different politics, an ordinary politics that will deliver on their ordinary needs. It will probably not align with the self-congratulatory politics of the upper middle class.

The day will come when people look back and wonder why they used to make such a fuss about third rails.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

print view

To comment on this article at American Thinker click here.

To email the author, click here.

 

 TAGS


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


presented by Christopher Chantrill

Data Sources  •   •  Contact