How Bachmann Can Defeat Obama

In a perfect instantiation of green conservatism, the Gingrich campaign has been fuelling a bandwagon entirely on Newt's hot air.  It is nearly midnight, however, and therefore almost time for that bandwagon to turn back into a pumpkin (or rather, lemon), which will leave those conservatives who are a little too focused on the manufactured issue of "electability," and who had almost been persuaded to hold their noses and vote for Gingrich, to return to the drawing board in search of someone who can defeat President Obama.   They will (and should) ultimately decide that the answer to their quest was standing before them all along, and that it requires no theoretical compromise after all.  The answer is to support a genuine and unequivocal conservative, Michele Bachmann. 

For while many of the Republican candidates might be able to defeat the disaster that is Obama, Bachmann would be able to do it in a manner most satisfying for conservatives, namely one which draws attention specifically to the nexus between constitutionalism and the moral tradition of American-style individualism. 

Think back to the fall of 2008.  Once the shock value of choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate had begun to wear off, John McCain's presidential campaign sputtered through one missed opportunity after another.  In the debates, in his campaign speeches, and in his grandstanding rush back to Washington to lead the fight for government bailouts, McCain frustrated conservatives at every turn with his inability or unwillingness to confront the electorate with the cold truth about Obama's notion of "change." 

There was, however, one glimmer of hope in the waning days of that campaign.  When Obama went off-teleprompter and answered a question about his agenda by telling "Joe the Plumber" that he thought society would benefit from an effort to "spread the wealth around," he offered a gift McCain had no right to receive.  There it was, in terms so clear even a moderate like McCain could see it: Obama was a leftist in his heart.  His instinct was to assume that "someone" (i.e. the government) had the responsibility and the authority to decide how to distribute a private citizen's hard-earned wealth.  When McCain raised this issue in a debate, Obama had no answer.  The best the Left could do was to try to discredit Joe the Plumber himself, and to scoff at suggestions of socialist tendencies as though such talk were embarrassingly antiquated.  However, the issue came along late in the day, and McCain was equipped to do little more than repeat the phrase "spread the wealth around," leaving it to his audience to read their own meaning into it, or to ignore it if they pleased.  The hopeful moment came, and then passed.

In the fall of 2012, by contrast, "spread the wealth" will no longer be an isolated cat-out-of-the-bag error; it will have been the leitmotif of an entire term of Obama's presidency.  His policies, his speeches, and the actions and speeches of so many prominent members of his administration, will have been laying waste to the American landscape for four years.  His progressivism will have been on display for everyone to see, and to feel in his or her own life.  There will be no need for a single brave man to crystallize the problem for everyone.  All Americans are Joe the Plumber now -- whether they realize it or not.

It is precisely the time, therefore, to present the choice for the future in the starkest terms.  Neo-socialist micro-management of the economic system, class envy, an ever-growing dependency culture becoming increasingly presumptuous and violent in its rhetoric against a shrinking sub-culture of people who, because they can successfully support themselves, are regarded as having gained some kind of unfair advantage by those who have been convinced they cannot do the same -- these are the hallmarks, and, truth be told, the primary goals, of the Obama Presidency.  If the trend continues, the impending collapse of the American economy, brutal as it promises to be, will be nothing compared to the collapse of civilized life and humane coexistence that will piggyback along with mere economic ruin.  There will be a watershed moment when rational persuasion will no longer be possible, and when an appeal to the American ideal of proud, happy, self-governing citizens will be laughed off as derisively by the population at large as it is today within the academy, the mainstream media, and the Democratic Party. 

This is the moment for a Republican candidate whose strength is in articulating the moral dimension of America's gathering storm.  Moreover, it is the moment for a candidate who is neither a late-comer to the moral approach, nor worse, an opportunist playing glad-handing dandy to the Tea Party's naïf.  This is a moment that can best be seized by Michele Bachmann, the Washington politician who has been most closely associated with the Tea Party since its inception, and who imbues her every critique of bad economic policy with an appeal to the moral ramifications of its enactment. 

And a precise point of attack can be summarized, as well as an initial campaign slogan articulated, in a simple but pointed question: Who's the fairest of them all?

In an alarmingly robust show of tone-deafness and over-confidence, Team Obama has made a decision systematically to revive the pre-Reagan socialist dogma of "fairness," and specifically of fairness in the tax system.  Idiosyncratic examples of billionaires paying one percent tax rates and the like are trotted out as liberal "boo lines," but the fundamental point is more universal: The wealthy should pay more, while those of middle and lower income should pay less, in the name of being fair. 

This year, a few Republican candidates have stood up to make bold claims against increasingly progressive taxation, most memorably Herman Cain with his 9-9-9 plan, which, whatever its merits on the whole, certainly looked down the leftist barrel without flinching.  No candidate, however, has made the moral case against progressive taxation as forcefully as Michele Bachmann, and it is the moral case that is necessary now, before those who depend on government as a benefactor paid for by others become a functioning majority of the voting public.  To propose a flatter tax rate is all well and good as a practical matter, but it has been the tendency of conservatives to shrink from taking this proposal right down to the bottom income brackets, which means they have, deep down, been susceptible to the Left's "unfairness" argument.  Only Bachmann has gone the final and most courageous step, placing at the center of her campaign the affirmation that "Everyone should pay something." 

The force of her argument can be misconstrued -- as, of course, the Democrats will try to do -- as a defense of lower taxes for the rich, or a lack of empathy with the poor.  The genius in her position, however, is that it is in truth quite the contrary: She is arguing that it redounds to the benefit of those in the lower income groups to pay their "fair share" of taxes.  To pay nothing is to feel no stake in the system, but only claims and grievances against it.  As a woman whose circumstances forced her into the workplace in adolescence, Bachmann learned early two virtues that pampered, self-indulgent, over-educated Western man is quickly forgetting, namely the anti-avaricious pride one experiences at knowing that one has paid for one's own, and the flower of prudence (aka responsibility) that grows in a pot that has one's own money in it.

Obama's willful incitement of class envy, which is quickly becoming a euphemism for class hatred, depends on a ratchet mechanism oiled with a concoction of equal parts childlike fear of independence and childlike resentment of one's provider.  Simply put, the immediate goal of American socialism is to produce a majority that instinctively craves what it ought to despise, and despises what it ought to hope for -- in short, a majority that loves Big Brother.

Bachmann's direct, policy-based appeal to whatever remains of the American spirit of individualism is the proper antidote for this poison.  "Everyone should pay something" is a rallying cry for taking care of oneself, for resisting the urge to blame others for one's (hitherto) unfulfilled desires, and for experiencing a sense of ownership over one's government -- the uniquely American political sense -- rather than the un-American sense of powerlessness which engenders a frightened and unenlightened self-interest manifesting itself in the angry demands of a mob.  (Take a good look at Europe today, or at Occupy Wall Street.)

This return to a proper pride in one's relationship to the government, i.e. the pride of a true citizen of a constitutional republic, is the single most urgently needed reform that can be proposed at this time.  It is also the straightest path to winning not merely an election, but an American future worth fighting elections over.  The surest path to victory in 2012 will be a direct confrontation on the fundamental moral issue of the meaning of "fairness."  And 2012 may well be the last chance to fight this battle, before it is lost by default.  Michele Bachmann has the strongest case to make in this fight.

Daren Jonescu has a Ph.D. in philosophy (McMaster University). He teaches at Changwon National University (Korea). Contact Daren at d_jonescu@yahoo.ca.

In a perfect instantiation of green conservatism, the Gingrich campaign has been fuelling a bandwagon entirely on Newt's hot air.  It is nearly midnight, however, and therefore almost time for that bandwagon to turn back into a pumpkin (or rather, lemon), which will leave those conservatives who are a little too focused on the manufactured issue of "electability," and who had almost been persuaded to hold their noses and vote for Gingrich, to return to the drawing board in search of someone who can defeat President Obama.   They will (and should) ultimately decide that the answer to their quest was standing before them all along, and that it requires no theoretical compromise after all.  The answer is to support a genuine and unequivocal conservative, Michele Bachmann. 

For while many of the Republican candidates might be able to defeat the disaster that is Obama, Bachmann would be able to do it in a manner most satisfying for conservatives, namely one which draws attention specifically to the nexus between constitutionalism and the moral tradition of American-style individualism. 

Think back to the fall of 2008.  Once the shock value of choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate had begun to wear off, John McCain's presidential campaign sputtered through one missed opportunity after another.  In the debates, in his campaign speeches, and in his grandstanding rush back to Washington to lead the fight for government bailouts, McCain frustrated conservatives at every turn with his inability or unwillingness to confront the electorate with the cold truth about Obama's notion of "change." 

There was, however, one glimmer of hope in the waning days of that campaign.  When Obama went off-teleprompter and answered a question about his agenda by telling "Joe the Plumber" that he thought society would benefit from an effort to "spread the wealth around," he offered a gift McCain had no right to receive.  There it was, in terms so clear even a moderate like McCain could see it: Obama was a leftist in his heart.  His instinct was to assume that "someone" (i.e. the government) had the responsibility and the authority to decide how to distribute a private citizen's hard-earned wealth.  When McCain raised this issue in a debate, Obama had no answer.  The best the Left could do was to try to discredit Joe the Plumber himself, and to scoff at suggestions of socialist tendencies as though such talk were embarrassingly antiquated.  However, the issue came along late in the day, and McCain was equipped to do little more than repeat the phrase "spread the wealth around," leaving it to his audience to read their own meaning into it, or to ignore it if they pleased.  The hopeful moment came, and then passed.

In the fall of 2012, by contrast, "spread the wealth" will no longer be an isolated cat-out-of-the-bag error; it will have been the leitmotif of an entire term of Obama's presidency.  His policies, his speeches, and the actions and speeches of so many prominent members of his administration, will have been laying waste to the American landscape for four years.  His progressivism will have been on display for everyone to see, and to feel in his or her own life.  There will be no need for a single brave man to crystallize the problem for everyone.  All Americans are Joe the Plumber now -- whether they realize it or not.

It is precisely the time, therefore, to present the choice for the future in the starkest terms.  Neo-socialist micro-management of the economic system, class envy, an ever-growing dependency culture becoming increasingly presumptuous and violent in its rhetoric against a shrinking sub-culture of people who, because they can successfully support themselves, are regarded as having gained some kind of unfair advantage by those who have been convinced they cannot do the same -- these are the hallmarks, and, truth be told, the primary goals, of the Obama Presidency.  If the trend continues, the impending collapse of the American economy, brutal as it promises to be, will be nothing compared to the collapse of civilized life and humane coexistence that will piggyback along with mere economic ruin.  There will be a watershed moment when rational persuasion will no longer be possible, and when an appeal to the American ideal of proud, happy, self-governing citizens will be laughed off as derisively by the population at large as it is today within the academy, the mainstream media, and the Democratic Party. 

This is the moment for a Republican candidate whose strength is in articulating the moral dimension of America's gathering storm.  Moreover, it is the moment for a candidate who is neither a late-comer to the moral approach, nor worse, an opportunist playing glad-handing dandy to the Tea Party's naïf.  This is a moment that can best be seized by Michele Bachmann, the Washington politician who has been most closely associated with the Tea Party since its inception, and who imbues her every critique of bad economic policy with an appeal to the moral ramifications of its enactment. 

And a precise point of attack can be summarized, as well as an initial campaign slogan articulated, in a simple but pointed question: Who's the fairest of them all?

In an alarmingly robust show of tone-deafness and over-confidence, Team Obama has made a decision systematically to revive the pre-Reagan socialist dogma of "fairness," and specifically of fairness in the tax system.  Idiosyncratic examples of billionaires paying one percent tax rates and the like are trotted out as liberal "boo lines," but the fundamental point is more universal: The wealthy should pay more, while those of middle and lower income should pay less, in the name of being fair. 

This year, a few Republican candidates have stood up to make bold claims against increasingly progressive taxation, most memorably Herman Cain with his 9-9-9 plan, which, whatever its merits on the whole, certainly looked down the leftist barrel without flinching.  No candidate, however, has made the moral case against progressive taxation as forcefully as Michele Bachmann, and it is the moral case that is necessary now, before those who depend on government as a benefactor paid for by others become a functioning majority of the voting public.  To propose a flatter tax rate is all well and good as a practical matter, but it has been the tendency of conservatives to shrink from taking this proposal right down to the bottom income brackets, which means they have, deep down, been susceptible to the Left's "unfairness" argument.  Only Bachmann has gone the final and most courageous step, placing at the center of her campaign the affirmation that "Everyone should pay something." 

The force of her argument can be misconstrued -- as, of course, the Democrats will try to do -- as a defense of lower taxes for the rich, or a lack of empathy with the poor.  The genius in her position, however, is that it is in truth quite the contrary: She is arguing that it redounds to the benefit of those in the lower income groups to pay their "fair share" of taxes.  To pay nothing is to feel no stake in the system, but only claims and grievances against it.  As a woman whose circumstances forced her into the workplace in adolescence, Bachmann learned early two virtues that pampered, self-indulgent, over-educated Western man is quickly forgetting, namely the anti-avaricious pride one experiences at knowing that one has paid for one's own, and the flower of prudence (aka responsibility) that grows in a pot that has one's own money in it.

Obama's willful incitement of class envy, which is quickly becoming a euphemism for class hatred, depends on a ratchet mechanism oiled with a concoction of equal parts childlike fear of independence and childlike resentment of one's provider.  Simply put, the immediate goal of American socialism is to produce a majority that instinctively craves what it ought to despise, and despises what it ought to hope for -- in short, a majority that loves Big Brother.

Bachmann's direct, policy-based appeal to whatever remains of the American spirit of individualism is the proper antidote for this poison.  "Everyone should pay something" is a rallying cry for taking care of oneself, for resisting the urge to blame others for one's (hitherto) unfulfilled desires, and for experiencing a sense of ownership over one's government -- the uniquely American political sense -- rather than the un-American sense of powerlessness which engenders a frightened and unenlightened self-interest manifesting itself in the angry demands of a mob.  (Take a good look at Europe today, or at Occupy Wall Street.)

This return to a proper pride in one's relationship to the government, i.e. the pride of a true citizen of a constitutional republic, is the single most urgently needed reform that can be proposed at this time.  It is also the straightest path to winning not merely an election, but an American future worth fighting elections over.  The surest path to victory in 2012 will be a direct confrontation on the fundamental moral issue of the meaning of "fairness."  And 2012 may well be the last chance to fight this battle, before it is lost by default.  Michele Bachmann has the strongest case to make in this fight.

Daren Jonescu has a Ph.D. in philosophy (McMaster University). He teaches at Changwon National University (Korea). Contact Daren at d_jonescu@yahoo.ca.