What is it that’s all the talk in the world of American finance these days? I’ll give you a few seconds….what have you been hearing a lot of? What are you and your family talking about?
Let me give you a clue: Is it that you’ve got to spend, spend, spend to help the economy recover? Nope, and now you’ve got it, don’t you?
All the talk is about saving. CNN reported on June 28 that consumer saving is now up to an average of $42/week per household, the highest savings rate since 1994. The June 20, 2009, issue of US News and World Report featured an article by Kimberly Palmer entitled Frugal Forever.
Apparently, it’s only the US consumer that’s in on the action, though. Our federal government is going on a shopping spree the likes of which we haven’t seen since President Reagan oversaw the largest increase in government spending (as a portion of GDP) in American history. But Reagan bought STUFF. President Obama and his sorely out-of-touch cohorts in Congress are a decade behind the times when it comes to spending habits—spending like they’re preparing to be on Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous and their buying entire INDUSTRIES.
Michael Lind, the director of the New America Foundation’s Economic Growth Program, wrote in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy that “….the post-crisis financial sector will be downsized and more heavily regulated, nationally and internationally…..We can also comfortably wager that government subsidies will rule the day….State capitalism with American characteristics may emerge from the de facto nationalization of the US automobile industry and perhaps other sectors that need to be rescued as the wave of deleveraging works its way through the economy….Millions of [formerly] affluent people are realizing that they will depend more, not less, on public pensions like social security…”
That doesn’t sound like any “New America” I want to be a part of and its not the kind of New America US citizens are looking to create. Now, more than ever, the US needs truly authentic conservative leadership. Not the kind of Republican leadership that has been mis-identified with conservatism for decades. This kind of conservatism leads to article headlines like those found on FoxNews: FRUGAL AMERICANS HURT ECONOMIC RECOVERY. That kind of Republican, “Oh dear, look how big business is suffering,” conservatism bears little resemblance to the conservatism that is based on the idea of CONSERVING.
It’s hard to believe that true conservatives would want to CONSERVE their money, I know. But there it is—I said it. They’d also like to conserve the American ideals of a free market economy, not a federal government engorged and nauseated on the unchewed consumption of spoiled American industry that should have remained on the buffet table in the first place.
Most Americans say the want “smaller government” but only so much as the programs important to the person being asked are not the ones to be downsized. But today Americans are appropriately curbing their appetite for fiscal consumption. Americans are learning the difference between “want” and “need.”
Yet our national leaders are still assuming that the things we “wanted” six months ago are the things we “need” today. Why is it that while consumers have the wherewithal to do the things we must do, our representatives don’t share our fortitude?
The Republican Party clearly needs re-branding. What we’re getting now from Washington is exactly what we should have expected from a Democratic President and Congress. But I still don’t see any real signs that a significant conflagration will rage across the old Republican Party, laying waste to the dead and rotten ideas that have come to choke the forest of politics and make room for new ideological sprouts. Where is conservatism pollinating in the first place? To whom should we look for someone brave enough to tell America “No” at a time when we desperately need it?
I have no answers (they’re certainly not in South Carolina) but I know the wellspring from which the right answers will come: true conservatism. Individuals who understand what has made America great. Individuals with the courage to do the right thing even when it’s unpopular. Individuals who are willing to be progressive in their pursuit of new ways to make the America work for Americans.
The Republican Party lost in November. It lost because it became like the Democrats and couldn’t do what they do as well as they do it. Republicans make for inferior Democrats and that’s the lesson of this election. Stop trying to beat the Democrats are their game. The Democrats are reacting to problems that are already a year or more old. They are not being progressive and proactive. They are being reactive.
I’ve always found it interesting that conservatism seeks to conserve that which liberalism brought about. Our founding fathers threw off their government, chucked organized religion and staged a revolution—not many things more liberal than that. Yet it was their action in pursuit of grand ideas that birthed the world’s greatest experiment in self-governance: an experiment that is jeopardized by ideological stagnation.
Americans need conservatism now more than ever.