In the past year or two John McCain has been painted as a moderate. Likewise, Bill O’Reilly claims to be a moderate. The same is true of the Democratic Party newspapers and magazines. I claim the opposite. McCain, Obama, O’Reilly and the old-fashioned, Democratic media are extremists. We of the RLC are moderates.
Liberty Republicans need to make the message clear: we are the moderates. The people in power are extremists.
Extremists like Obama and McCain claim that ever increasing scope and power of the state; taxes that escalate past fifty percent of earnings; increasing government regulation that cripples progress; and massive subsidization of the ultra wealthy through the Federal Reserve Bank and the Bush-Obama bailout are moderate. But their policies are extreme by any measure.
Libertarians occupy the middle ground. We are for progress, but not for authoritarian state control. We are for liberty, but not for special privileges for the very wealthy.
Much of the reason that pro-freedom moderates have been forced to cede ground to socialist extremists of both parties is that we have allowed them to claim a “middle ground” between, on the one hand, right wing extremism represented by what they call “fascism” and left wing extremism. Libertarians know that the extreme left and the extreme right are identical. Hitler’s national socialism is no different from Stalin’s socialism in one country, as John Lukacs has pointed out. The very notion of “right” and “left” is inappropriate to the American experience. The debate in America is between moderate advocates of freedom and advocates of centralization and tyranny.
The mainstream of American history has reflected a moderate majority that advocates freedom and reduced scope of government. American history, beginning with Alexander Hamilton, has also included extremists who advocated socialist ideas such as the Federal Reserve Bank (in Hamilton’s day the Bank of the United States) and government ownership of business (which Hamilton did recommend with respect to manufacturing. Hamilton was the first Rockefeller Republican.)
It is a bitter, tragic tale. By the late 19th century the extremists learned from the Roman Emperors, who in Augustus’s time provided bread and circus to the Roman proletarians. Later, Septimius Severus increased benefits to the Roman army and civil service. By providing bread and circus to the proletarians and increasing military pay, the Emperor and his wealthy clients could retain power.
The Democrats, following the 16th century kings like Henry VIII (see Bertrand de Jouvenal’s On Power for the history of how this pattern continued into the middle ages) arrived at a realization that their Roman strategy could work in America: 1. Call subsidization of banking a “new deal.” 2. Create a transfer payment system that defers costs inter-generationally. 3. Claim that the radical, large-scale system (very similar to Mussolini’s fascism) is “moderate” and that anyone who opposes it is “reactionary”, using the media to this end. The system worked well for fifty years.
Control of the media was essential to painting libertarian moderates as “reactionaries”. By 1912, when Senator Robert Marion La Follette, a presidential candidate, said in a speech to the magazine industry that Wall Street’s control of the magazine industry had continued the process of decline of a free press in America, the New York Times the next day, in early February 1912, claimed that La Follette had suffered a nervous breakdown, ending his hopes for a presidential bid.
Today, the evolution of technology has an unforeseen effect that works in the favor of pro-freedom moderates. The fringe extremists who have seized control of the American power structure find it difficult to suppress the World Wide Web. Thus, we have an important new opportunity. Let us use it to reclaim the center!
Mitchell Langbert blogs at http://www.mitchell-langbert.blogspot.com.