As 2011 nears we are going to hear a lot about bipartisan efforts to make government work, and all thoughout 2011 we'll be inundated with calls to pull together in a national effort to spur economic growth, reform education and rebuild America. The Transformation of America will be billed under a new banner of Rebuild America.
Democrats misread the results of the 2008 election -- the progressives thought they had a mandate to Transform America into European Social Democracy. The surprise has been that European Social Democracy has failed -- China's State Capitalism quickly rose as the new model of statism. Also, the Tea Party rose to rejuvenate the values of fiscal conservativism and limited government, a mixture of libertarian and conservative ideas.
In the last few years, because of a deep and long-lasting recession, America has splintered into forces of competing ideas: the progressives are pushing to complete the Transformation of America into Social Democracy; the Tea Party is pushing to limit the reach of the federal government and to cut spending; the moderates are pushing to combine both parties in a campaign of economic nationalism to Rebuild America; liberals of all stripes are practicing the art of obscurantism trying to figure out the pragmatic solutions to saving the welfare state while also spurring the economy; Big Government Republicans are determining how to co-opt the Tea Party and regain power in 2012 in order to push their form of statism. Hardly anyone is seriously fighting for a free market, because hardly anyone understands what it means anymore.
Now that the midterm elections have temporarily stopped the progressive movement, understanding what the election results mean has proven tricky. The administration and the moderates are banking on the idea that the public wants bipartisan cooperation to force government to pragmatically develop solutions which will create jobs and economic growth. If bipartisan efforts create short-term economic growth, the prevailing idea is that this will buy time so that government can cut spending and reform entitlements. Cynics have reason to believe that jobs and economic growth are the necessary sedatives to calm an anxious public -- they have worked before. The big question is -- Are we at a point of government control and spending which has crippled enterprise's ability to create sufficient growth?
Advocates for liberal democracy were misled by progressivism into accepting this alliance as a necessary means of maintaining Democrat Party power and preventing conservative resurgence. Shortly after 2008, many liberals were declaring a permanent Democrat majority, and it appeared to them that a progressive president was the key to building energy and excitement among the public for major change. While most liberals stop short of promoting European social democracy in America because of its ties with socialist/communist alliances, they were seduced by Hope and Change, perhaps hoping that a Transformation of America would be something moderated by American uniqueness and ingenuity -- liberals have a tendency to be blinded by wishful thinking. The healthcare bill was rationalized by modern liberals and all the warnings were pushed aside because the end result of near universal coverage was too great in their minds to obsess over details and false projections. The finance reform bill fell right into the liberal wheelhouse with its emphasis on suppressing the power of Fat Cats, so, again, government overreach and unintended consequences were ignored. As a result, progressive momentum created a regulatory structure, still unfinished, unlike any we've witnessed since the New Deal, or, at least the Great Society.
Being unfinished, the structures of healthcare and finance remain a problem for liberals in light of European austerity and pressure from the public inspired by Tea Party concerns and, also, reality of our growing debt. There are growing concerns that the legislative accomplishments are burdening American businesses, creating uncertainty at a time when our nation is in desperate need of economic growth and job creation. Liberals also supported the stimulus and bailout efforts, neither of which have created the economic growth expected.
Although progressives are pushing for a completion of Hope and Change, liberals and moderates are now in a qaundary -- they've been shocked back into reality from the giddiness of the progressive dream, but they can't associate themselves with Tea Party concerns, certainly not as advocates for free market solutions. The forming solution to the quandary, apparently, is a modified version of China's State capitalism. Neither liberals nor moderates condone the human rights violations in China which help support their economic growth, but the model of State capitalism, to their way of thinking, contains an appropriate involvement of government regulation and growth management. Spending on repairing and enhancing infrastructure is a solution which combines government spending and responsible attention to job growth, so that such spending can be framed as "investment" rather than short-sighted stimulus.
Efforts are already underway to incorporate liberal projects in the infrastructure plans, such as clean energy alternatives. I've written about this lately, but we're in the middle of an evolution among liberals and moderates. The good news is that they seem to have recognized the dead-end socialist nature of progressivism, but the bad news is that they don't appear to be any closer to accepting free market solutions -- they will claim their new economic nationalism is a compromise between free market principles and government oversight and management, but this is no different really than the mixed economy we've had all along that paves the way for progressive advancements.
Unless we move beyond the idea that frames the extremes which we face as a free market on the right and a progressive, European social democracy on the left, and the sensible compromise as a mixed economy moderated by applying pragmatic solutions on a case by case basis, we cannot avoid a constant drift to more State power and control. I've proposed at this blog, over and over, that a free market should be our norm in the economic realm, and in the political realm a limited government should be the norm -- but what has become the norm is a statist direction that continues to drift toward complete State control -- call it socialism, progressivism, a Merchant-State, State capitalism, fascism, crony capitalism, whatever you want to call it as the two parties alternate power, it's still a direction which leads to loss of freedom and financial collapse. The liberal and moderate aversion to a free market might not be an acceptance of "socialism", but it is an acceptance of statism, and statism takes on different forms of control, but the State, when unlimited, no matter what form it takes, always moves inexorably in small steps at time and giant leaps at time toward power and control.