By RUFUS G.W. SANDERS, Register columnist
With the inauguration of President Barack Obama we are about to see a new day in America. Finally there will be an end to the bitter politics of division and polarization. In the now immortal words of Ronald Reagan, the iconic figure of 20th century American Conservatism; "It's morning in America."
The failure of conservatism can be linked to ideology based in raw capitalism where the government favors the interest of the elites -- the lords and barons of high finance. The ideology, with little regard for the general populace, is based on the belief that when the rich are favored, everyone will benefit and the entire nation will prosper. We now all know that this is the most fundamental lie of pure capitalism. This system, if allowed to its own machinations, without regulation, leads to such outlandish sentiments such as the one uttered by the late billionaire Leona Helmsley: Taxes are for the little people.
This unchecked conservatism has crippled our economy, burdened government with debilitating debt, corrupted our political institutions and threatened the destruction of the vary environment on which our lives depend. This 40-year experiment, with its so-called "trickle-down economics," has all but destroyed our land. This era of conservative politics has been most destructive for the prosperity of this great nation. Modern conservatism was born in 1966 when an unknown newspaper writer named Patrick Buchanan went to work for Richard Nixon. Nixon had just lost not only the presidency to JFK, but the 1962 bid for governor of California. Filled with anger, resentment, frustration, embarrassment and hate for Democrats and so-called northern liberals, these two men began to strategize just how they could dismantle the liberal programs of the New Deal and the Great Society.
They took advantage of the turbulent 1960s society, with all of its unrest created primary by the Vietnam war, and divided the country into two sectors -- the quiet, ordinary, patriotic, religious, law-abiding silent many and the noisy, elitist, amoral, disorderl and condescending few. Nixon appealed to what would become known as the "Silent Majority." What he was able to do was create this image of "Two Americas," a vile idea from which we have not been able to free ourselves to this day. It is from this ideology the failed Republican economy has wreaked so much havoc on us. This philosophy has over the years created not only a failed economy but domestic violence and social malfeasance like nothing this country has seen since the days before Reconstruction: bombings, assaults, murders, assassinations, vigilantes, radical students, black militants, segregationists -- all because of the politics of Conservatism.
While Democrats continue to accuse Republicans of being like Herbert Hoover, Republicans will probably accuse Democratics of being out of touch with real Americans. But it is clear, given what happened in the 2006 and 2008 elections, that America has entered a new political era. The failure of Conservatism and the Grand Old Party was that it was unable to shed its 40-year image of a negative insurgent movement fighting against the liberalism of Franklin Roosevelt.
Social critic Eric Hoffer said: "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket." Is this not what happened to the Republican Party and Conservatism?
Rather than govern, the Republicans joined with right-wing journalists, talking heads, think tanks, and foundations with hard-line conservative principles and spent almost 40 years engaging in the art of polarizing politics. The bureaucracy which they promised to reform has done nothing but become larger and more out of control. In the process they have done nothing for universal health-care coverage or arrest growing economic inequality. They created a political culture that was inhospitable to almost everything that stabilized the great American middle class.
By the time George W. Bush made his call for "compassionate conservatism," the Republican Party was on its deathbed waiting for the respirator with the bungling and recounting of the Florida vote in the 2000 election. The last official policy of the neoconservatives was the attempt to divide America into red and blue states. They had come full circle back to the days when Nixon created two Americas, but they also sealed the casket and now wait for burial.
President Obama will bring to the country a "New Liberalism." With his election a strong working-class society will be created. It is an American ideal. He will act to restore a new era of American leadership. He will rebalance the distribution of wealth. Necessary and appropriate steps will be taken to assure access by every person to quality health care, education and other essential services. He will protect working-class American people. By the time he leaves office in 2012 he will have through his economic-stimulus programs built the physical and social infrastructure of a 21st century economy. He will have stabilized the money markets, contained housing and stock market bubbles; brought the federal debt under control by discouraging speculation; and assured the availability of credit on fair and affordable terms to Main Street. He will rebuild America into the country it was originally intended to be.
Calvin Coolidge said it well: "Happy Days Are Here Again."