The best advice for a conservative fighting the urge to fling open
a window and jump out? Wait four years.
Future historians will scratch their heads over why any sane human
being would want to be taking a presidential oath of office in 2009.
Four years from now, Barack Obama will be experiencing approximately
what George W. Bush is experiencing now — a strong suspicion that
becoming president was the biggest mistake of his life.
We and our chosen leaders have puffed up the bubble economy for almost
half a century — I date this phenomenon back to the guns-and-butter
approach of LBJ — and bursting that bubble has serious consequences
with no quick fixes. Our financial system, our currency, our stocks,
our real estate values, our dwindling manufacturing sector, and our
consumer confidence have all taken a sharp blow.
Worse, perhaps, for the long term, the American economy’s dynamism
and reputation for invincibility have been almost irreparably damaged
in the eyes of important economic actors around the globe. The Chinese,
Japanese, and Saudis certainly are well aware that it is their wealth
that Henry Paulson is spreading around in a so-far-fruitless attempt
to stabilize our financial system. The burning question of the day
should be how soon those worthies, whose welfare dependents we have
become, will cut their losses and convert their dollars to a stronger
unit of exchange. Such a move would only magnify their losses, of course,
as the dollar plunges, but stranger behavior than that has already
been seen on Wall Street.
President-elect Obama surely realizes that the budgetary wherewithal
to deliver on his Big Four campaign promises is yesterday’s cotton
candy. His main problems in the next four years will be to avoid becoming
the Democrats’ Herbert Hoover and to preserve enough popularity
to capture his party’s nomination in 2012. Similar thoughts no
doubt occurred to Hillary Clinton as she pondered whether to become
Obama’s Secretary of State; if she waits until 2016, she will
be just a few notches short of too-old John McCain in 2008.
The economy, in short, will make it a whole new ballgame in time
for the 2010 midterm elections and déjà vu all over again
in 2012. Voters will be receptive to some new changes, and conservatives
need to identify the right ones.
Here is a list:
1. Keep attacking the federal bailout of Wall
Street and the proposed bailout of Detroit. The bailouts reward greed and incompetence, and
they will not work. It is already clear that both major parties are
in the pockets of corporate giants, and voters will be looking for
politicians who are not.
2. Assert that the discipline of bankruptcy
is the best prescription for automakers. If GM can restructure under Chapter 11, reduce its
debt, renegotiate its union contracts and pension obligations, and
survive, fine. If not, its incompetent management team members will
be out of jobs, and the market for Ford and Chrysler will be enlarged
enough to enable them to buy GM’s remnants and hire back most
of its workers.
3. Push for trade laws requiring importers
to pay their workers a decent living wage (see papal encyclicals
on this topic over the past century). Adopt policies calling for their governments to not artificially
depress their currencies; if they fail to do so, assess an equalizing
surcharge on imported products at the port of entry. This would level
the playing field for American workers, help rebuild our manufacturing
sector, and help the growth of foreign markets for our exports. It
would also aid the growth of jobs in neighboring economies like Mexico,
which would have less incentive to send its workers across our border
This is called killing three birds with one stone. (Note to Catholic
bishops: Extending a welcoming hand to illegal aliens might seem
like the Christian thing to do — but it encourages the breakup of
families. Better to focus, as the universal church we are, on the
economic injustice and stagnation that drive husbands and fathers
away from their families.)
4. Get our troops out of Iraq, and then start
chipping away at the rest of our far-flung and economically unjustifiable
military empire (we have at least 737 military bases strewn around this messy world).
Alarmed cries of “Isolationism!” will arise from elite
bastions across the country, to which the sensible reply is “Durn
tootin’!” Chastened by the economic implosion, if not by
the stream of coffins flown into Dover, our people will be receptive
to the idea that it makes no sense to fight terrorism on battlegrounds
of the terrorists’ choosing. The real mission of the Department
of Defense is functionally indistinguishable from that assigned to
the Department of Homeland Security, which should be immediately
disbanded. Whether Romana, Brittanica or Americana, militarily sought
pax is the lethal pox of republics.
5. Continue hitting hard on the social
issues, while never forgetting the primacy of pocket-book issues
for American voters. Most Americans
agree that aborting life in the womb is a creepy thing; that killing
people, whether embryos or not, for scientific research is Nazi-like;
and that marriage is conceptually a male-female thing. During the
four years of President Obama’s term, it will be helpful to remind
him that his party’s wholehearted embrace of abortion on demand
has reduced this country’s African-American population by about
15 million souls (costing him at least 7 million votes in the recent
election, based on exit polling showing a 96-percent-to-4-percent
African-American split for Obama).
Exit polling also indicated that 54 percent of Catholics voted for
the candidate who promised to undo all the state protections of the
unborn enacted by states over the years since 1973. This leads to the
final piece of advice.
6. Work to put some spine into the American
Catholic episcopacy. Most
of our bishops thought they had done their duty with the issuance
of bland guidelines for forming a Catholic conscience before stepping
into the voter booth. No names — not even a clear statement that
the Democratic Party has closely identified itself with the culture
of death, or that the Republican Party did very little to change
that culture even when it controlled the White House and both houses
of Congress. It is perfectly clear that, while some bishops actually
prefer Democrats on the issues, most are just afraid of losing
their precious tax exemptions.
It is equally clear that with virile leadership from our bishops and
conscience-informed voting by Catholics as a unified bloc, the culture
of death would quickly suffer political euthanasia — and the prospects
for raising up a new party that is pro-life, anti-empire, and economically
sane would be significantly enhanced. Maybe that is why the Lord instituted
a male-only priesthood — so that in times of crisis real men would
The Unrepentant Traditionalist is copyright (c) 2008 by Frank
Creel and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights
Frank Creel, Ph.D., has been a columnist for the Potomac
Virginia. His op-ed articles have been published in the Northern
Virginia Journal, the Washington Examiner,
Times, and the New York City Tribune. In 1992, his A
Trilogy of Sonnets was published pseudonymously by Christendom
See a complete biographical sketch.
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