After reading Anatole Kaletsky’s recent article in the Times (beware of the paywall), this does give me some interesting material for thoughts here.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I was right when I said that the mania around Obama would collapse. We have now a classical pattern when the underlying problems in a nation slowly become apparent.
Bush was as guilty of this as Obama was during his election period. The budget deficit was ignored, the underlying economic problems were not faced (indeed had not been faced even in the Clinton era) and the dysfunctional nature of much national infrastructure remained oblivious to US politics.
The mania surrounding Obama’s candidacy and early presidency was indicative of this problem: the hysterical support given by the media class, promoting the man into a God who would bring about paradise in the USA was never going to be justified but struck me as a form of crowd-madness. The need to hope that things would be better took precedence over reason and led to two years of unproductive, corrupt and foolish politics. The health care bill, the repeated attempts to get climate change legislation through Congress and the wasted time around Copenhagen all pointed in the direction of the final act of an old group of ideologically driven politicians; in a sense, the Gotterdamerung of the Democrat Party.
Normally this should be Despair and then Hope but at the moment, the rage filling US politics is at times, pathological. This is an issue for cultural psychologists to study and analyse and if politicians have any sense, they should study the conclusions of any such exercise. What the USA needs more than anything is to recover its senses and start looking at not just how to cut the size of the federal state but to delete or reform politically corrupt programmes and especially find a long-term perspective on its economy that pays no homage to “sustainability” or “green” politics but instead truly acts in the national interest.
This means spending as well as cuts. The issue of national transportation and energy supply has needed tackling for many years. The states seem at times to exist independent of one another despite their interdependence. If there were a National Grid planned and implemented across the USA, then energy distribution would be far easier and cheaper. If the US took time to plan the promotion of manufacturing industries to compete with those in China (use the Japanese model of mass automation and advanced engineering), the US would be freer from the fear of Chinese competition.
This requires the political class to abandon much of their sacred battle-totems and truthfully argue outside of narrow partisan issues. Obama used a bipartisan rhetoric as a tool to promote a narrow Democrat agenda; the Democrats need to look truly to the interests of the American people and not the opinion writers of the New York Times and the Huffington Post. The socialist-liberals have no faith in America as a cultural icon, seeing only the exaggerated flaws and bear no good-will towards the nation as a whole, viewing it only as a theory to be reformed from above.
The Republicans on the other hand have to re-embrace the old fashioned sense of conservatism as understood by the neoconservative movement and political philosophers of the Oakeshott school. Democratic ideals are dangerous in as far as these mean a politico-moral mission, emphasising egalitarianism and “levelling”. Work with the American people including the liberals and more can be accomplished than has been possible in the last thirty years.
What America needs more than anything is a Thatcherite government with a clear sense of a radical mission in government and refusing to acknowledge the false gods of the socialist-liberals and the paleo-conservatives in order to free the USA from its deeper underlying economic problems and reforge the USA as a global power anew.