Mitt Romney's Cross of Gold?
Capitalism itself is under attack by the Left once again, and will be an issue in the presidential election. Before conservatives commit to a full throated defense, they should consider a few political realities.
When William Jennings Bryan made his famous "Cross of Gold" speech in 1896, I think it's fair to say the conventioneers who then nominated him did not hear the speech as an argument for a monetary policy (free silver coinage). The speech, which every historian or political hack should read and listen to until committed to memory, was a moral outrage against those who would sell the soul of the nation to the money interests. "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." And though Bryan went on to lose the general election to McKinley because of a split in the party, can you imagine how the election might have gone if McKinley had chosen to spend his campaign defending and demanding an adherence to "The Cross of Gold"? In this election cycle Capitalism will be the cross of gold.
I have searched the founding documents extensively, and have never found a mention of "Capitalism" in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. I have never heard of a presidential or governing oath that calls for a nominee to swear allegiance to Capitalism. The history of the United States Navy is not punctuated -- from the Revolution to the current day -- by the exploits of the U.S.S. Capitalism, nor did captain Kirk command a mythical starship by the same name. No U.S. military commander has ever extolled his men to lay down their lives for Capitalism. God, freedom, and country, yes.
So when Newt Gingrich rightly or wrongly launched his ill-fated attack on Mitt Romney and the activities of Bain Capital, I was stunned at the "He dared to attack Capitalism" response from the Romney defenders. It still seems likely that Romney is going to be the nominee, despite recent gains by Rick Santorum, and since he is a better choice than Obama, I hope we can stop pretending that Capitalism is a worship word and that the whole country will swell with rage if someone is accused of attacking it.
George Soros is a brilliant practitioner of Capitalism, moving the mountains of capital he has amassed freely from country to country and industry to industry, maximizing his return. He could not have crashed currencies such as the British pound or the Russian ruble if they had not been inflated fiat currencies, in other words, a lie. He uses his political influence to enrich industries he has invested in. Nothing in the Capitalist Manual against that. Yet most on our side find his actions reprehensible.
Don't we believe in Capitalism? An attack on George Soros is an attack on Capitalism itself. In the late forties, some capitalistic genius at Rolls Royce sold the Soviet Union the most advanced jet engine on earth, which would later cause many American deaths over Korea. The Loral Space Corporation made good money showing the Chinese how to make missiles that would actually go where they wanted (the continental United States) with nuclear tips.
Is it possible that we don't believe that the sum total of the United States' existence is that of a giant shopping mall where people come to buy and sell their wares? Is it possible that what we believe in is free enterprise and the freedom to succeed or fail tempered by minimal necessary regulation, that it be in the interest of most Americans and most of all conducted by God-fearing people who know there will be a higher judgment for their actions?
The Democrats are far smarter at this than we are. They work to advance socialism but would never admit to it or use its name (Bernie Sanders and a few others excepted). But we seem to be grabbing the mantle of unfettered Capitalism and slapping it on our foreheads when we clearly and rightfully don't believe it. How does free trade fit with Capitalism? Is it an integral part of it or detachable? During the period of rapid industrial growth in the United States we had very protectionist policies and most government revenue was collected from tariffs on imported goods. Yet we still had free enterprise and built the industrial base that would prevail in two World Wars.
The sainted Ronald Reagan imposed a tariff on Japanese motorcycles to save Harley Davidson and maintained tight "voluntary" import quotas on Japanese cars. This led Toyota and other Japanese manufacturers to follow Honda's lead and decide they should set up plants here. Was that so awful? I am not advocating for or against protectionism. The United States has had periods of prosperity with protectionism and free trade.
What about immigration, both legal and illegal? Immigration devalues the bargaining power of working people already here, but it probably is good for Capitalism. Or is immigration policy also detachable from Capitalism? One shouldn't wed oneself to policies, be they capitalist, immigration or free-trade. The interests of the nation as a whole must be looked at and policies that promote the general welfare pursued.
Clearly the true Capitalism of yesteryear is gone. Hard-working industrious people saving their money, and prudent managers investing it to grow, have been replaced by banks lining up at the Fed window for zero interest fiat paper, making all our money worthless. The money can then be used to buy Treasury Notes, only a minimal return, but hey, it's free. Or it can be pumped into the economy, causing bubble after bubble, whether it's put into real-estate, stocks, or used to buy commodities, raising everyone's fuel bills.
And if by some chance the masters of the universe lose the money at the casino, the taxpayers get to bail them out and set them up at the roulette table again. This is what people see as Capitalism now.
So for the time being, will you folks who want to give us Romney find something else to talk about before he's crucified on a cross of gold?