Saturday, April 10, 2010

Will America Thrive or Will It Go Into Decline - Mark Steyn and Paul A. Rahe Opine

Is America doomed to decline, as so many great powers before it, or is it on the verge of finding its purpose again and being reborn? Paul A. Rahe and Mark Steyn have differing views on that question. Steyn is not optimistic but Rahe finds reasons to be hopeful.


"Is America set for decline? It’s been a grand run. The country’s been the leading economic power since it overtook Britain in the 1880s. That’s impressive. Nevertheless, over the course of that century and a quarter, Detroit went from the world’s industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland, and the once-golden state of California atrophied into a land of government run by the government for the government. What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. But what will ensure it is if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy."


"Perhaps it is. But I think the contrary. My reasons are simple. The administrative state, as we know it, grew for the most part gradually and unobtrusively. Yes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave it a mighty push, but he did so in a time in which the majority of Americans were desperate. Yes, Lyndon Baines Johnson gave it another mighty push, but he had the advantage that the opposition was divided and disheartened. This is not the case now. Barack Obama has torn the mask off. We can now see the tyrannical ambition at the heart of the progressive impulse. Moreover, thanks to the Tea-Party Movement, fear of which caused the Republican Party to grow a spine, Barack Obama now faces a united opposition; and, in opposing his healthcare initiative, the Republicans have articulated an argument that is both true and cogent — that there is no way to pay for a massive, new entitlement program on this scale without crippling the American economy."

The key in Rahe's take, I think, is that the Republican Party's newfound spine must turn out to be a stiff one, and that is why the tea party movement can get things turned around. That is another reason why, as I said (in agreement with Dana Loesch yesterday that a national tea party would be a bad idea. The Republicans need the tea partiers a lot more than the tea partiers need them and the tea partiers must not allow themselves to be co-opted. Once that happens, the old GOP establishment will go soft and pliable again. They have to remember that to a Democrat, bi-partisanship means doing it their way and any rope you allow them will be used to hang you. I've seen it happen too many times. When the GOP makes a good-faith effort to compromise, the Democrats roll them. Every. Single. Time.  

Do read them both.

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