Friday, March 12, 2010

The Rotation of Power

The essence of governing is to let the other guys have a turn.

My Greek friend George Maroutsos used to teach me the essence of democracy as it applied to Greece after the fall of the Greek colonels back in the 1970s. The point was to elect the left, then defeat them in duly constituted elections. The key is that, when defeated, the ruling party leaves office. And then the other party takes power, gets defeated, and leaves office.

The great fear of all partisans is that the other guys will cheat. They will cancel the elections. They will stage a coup. Al Haig will declare: "I am in control!" So the one essential thing is that you can defeat the rascals in office, send them packing, and they actually leave office. That is the one big guarantee of peace.

The corollary of this truth is that, for your side to prosper, you must put the other guys in to face reality. That's what I argued back in 2008. We had to put the Dems in charge of the War on Terror. Let them face the situation that Bush and Cheney faced in 2001/02. Let them really decide if they want to bring the troops home by a date certain.

As we have seen, the Obama administration, despite all its "reset" and "soft power" talk, has doubled down on Afghanistan and is now taking credit for the successful elections in Iraq. Reality rules.

It is also running up against reality on health care, climate, energy, and a host of other issues on which liberals have been talking to each other in an echo chamber for years.

You and I believe that the liberals are wrong, dead wrong, on all these issues. But the only way for us to win is for them to try and to fail at their ideas. They won't listen to us. They are smarter than we are. So they have to learn the hard way.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer says all this and more in his regular column today: "In Praise of the Rotation of Power." Suppose Bush or McCain were still in power and escalating our involvement in Afghanistan, he asks?

Do you think if John McCain, let alone George W. Bush, were president, we would not see growing demonstrations protesting our continued presence in Iraq and the escalation of Afghanistan? That we wouldn't see a serious push in Congress to cut off funds?

Exactly. And then, Krauthammer adds, there's Guantanamo and the KSM trial where the Obamis are learning all about reality. All good and healthy.

Next up is the Obami challenge to the Reagan recipe of governance.

The Reaganite dispensation of low taxes, less regulation and reliance on markets should be challenged lest it become merely rote and dogmatic. Obama has offered a bracingly thorough attack on that dispensation with his unapologetic embrace of a social democratic agenda whose essence -- more centralized government exercising its power through radical health care, energy and education reform -- is the overthrow of Reaganism.

All to the good. Either Obama will succeed, and the American people will accede to his social democratic agenda, or they will throw it and him out. At the end of it we will have a solid disposition of Reaganism and all it stands for.

We really need to come to closure on Reaganism. For thirty years the liberals have been saying that Reaganism was all a mirage and a mistake. The economy didn't really heal itself. People didn't really prosper. The Societ Union would have collapsed anyway.

Well, now they are getting the chance to prove Reagan wrong with their administrative state solutions to health care, energy, finance, size of government, everything.

I say good luck to them. Because they are going to need more than luck to avoid the biggest political meltdown of our lives.

The sad thing is that Democratic supporters that will suffer the most. Because those are the folks that have put their trust in government. I am not talking about gentry liberals. They will do fine. No, I am talking about ordinary Americans that believe the liberal line: teachers, government workers, seniors, etc. You may say that they deserve it, that they ought to have known better. But I think it's a shame.

Meanwhile let us sit back and watch as the Democrats twist themselves into pretzels over their unpopular health care proposals. They will learn an important lesson that may keep the Democratic Party sane and sensible for a generation.

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