Should Obama Win if He Creates Jobs?
One unintended danger of the Romney campaign's focus on the worthy goal of job-creation is that such a focus can obscure more fundamental matters of principle. Specifically, it permits the detachment of job numbers from underlying moral issues to the extent that the debate between freedom and socialism is reduced to the question of which "system" is the more effective job producer. Statistical matters should never take precedence over issues of right and wrong. Socialism would be wrong even if it resulted in full employment.
I happened to be sitting at a departure gate at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport when the infamous October unemployment rate (7.8%) was released. Needless to say, that meant I learned about the rate from CNN. Oh, how the morning talking heads revelled in their triumph. All pretense of objectivity was cast to the wind. This number, they beamed, would obliterate the memory and effect of Romney's trouncing of Obama in their first debate two days earlier. This number, they gasped, vindicated Obama's economic policies.
The key talking point, providing all the evidence a rational person needed that (a) the rate was fudged to help Obama, and (b) liberals have lost their minds, was that 7.8% is the lowest rate since January 2009. Gee, the very month Obama took office -- imagine that!
My initial reaction to this talking point was to note that by emphasizing, with a giddy schoolgirl's approximation of gravity, that the October rate was the lowest since the month Obama took office, CNN's Blondes for Barack Club was proudly declaring that their man's entire first term had resulted in a big fat zero net improvement in America's unemployment rate. And that's with the "official" rate's convenient overlooking of the growing number of discouraged dropouts from the ranks of job-seekers. Hardly a result to boast about, but when you are desperate....
My next thought, however, was this: what if the new unemployment rate had been 3.8%, rather than 7.8? Obama would probably win re-election, and the Romney campaign, having bet the farm on the jobs issue, would be left without an argument. Furthermore, I suspect a lot of Republicans would feel equally stymied by such an outcome, having taken the bait of politics as usual, i.e., having accepted that a debate over the statistical results of socialism vs. freedom is the crux of the matter.
In short, I thought, what if socialism actually worked? As a matter of historical fact, we know that it does not work, at least not in the long run. But what if, at this moment, everyone who wanted a job had one? What if taking over some industries, destroying others, confiscatory taxation, and wealth redistribution actually achieved statistical results that most Americans found agreeable, at least in the short term?
The question of whether a slave economy is as productive as a non-slave economy is of great concern if we remain morally indifferent to the institution of slavery itself. The moment we take the moral issue of slavery into account, however, the question of practical efficiency becomes, if not irrelevant, then at least a matter of purely scholarly interest.
The same is true regarding the leftist pull toward socialism. Turning the presidential campaign into an argument over practical outcomes is dangerous business, as it allows Obama and his socialist supporters to compete on a level playing field with Romney and his conservative supporters. If the Democrats can produce, by hook or by crook, numbers that look similar to the results the Republicans are promising, that appear to defy the GOP's critique of Obama's policies, or that merely seem to show a positive "trend," then the Republicans lose the rhetorical advantage, and the election becomes a mere "likeability" contest, rather than what it really is and must be, namely a life or death struggle over the idea of political liberty.
Why give Obama that level playing field? Why, in other words, behave and debate as though leftist authoritarianism is a legitimate contender for a turn at the nation's steering wheel?
Obama's policy agenda is, in each and every detail, either directly socialistic, or tending to advance the cause of the long-term achievement of socialism in America. Obama has made this goal as explicit as can be throughout his adult life, openly declaring his devotion to "progressive" causes, openly favoring wealth redistribution, openly defining "fairness" as a government-enforced "sharing" of prosperity, openly aligning himself with the eventual goal of single-payer (i.e., socialized) healthcare, and so on.
Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn would not have endorsed and advocated his political career, and cheered for his presidential victory, had they believed that he was anything less than the most viable (electable) gateway to socialism. Nor would the Communist Party USA, the big labor leaders, anti-capitalist green radical Van Jones, George Soros, or Hugo Chavez.
Socialism is, by definition, the abolition of private property, violating a founding principle of the American system of government. Socialism is, by definition, the nationalization of healthcare, a direct assault on the Declaration's right to life. Socialism is, by definition, the federal control of education, a direct rejection of the limits of federal power outlined in the Constitution, and an outright denial of parental control over children's moral and intellectual development, effectively ending the traditional family.
Socialism is, by definition, the government takeover of industry and agriculture, whether by immediate proprietorship (as under Soviet socialism), or through the intermediary of a bureaucratic regulatory regime (as under National Socialism), in either case standing in direct violation of the Declaration's rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The modern Obama/Democratic policy model of nascent socialism, or "pre-socialism," if you will -- the agenda that the Obama backers I cited above recognize and support -- thus aims directly at the supplanting of the U.S. Constitution, and its replacement with a regulatory regime with an ever-growing "public sector" to implement it. This model cannot, by definition, be an equal partner in the debate over the future of the American republic. The legitimate political debate in America, if it is to remain a constitutional republic, is over the best methods of promoting or upholding the principles espoused in the founding documents. There is much room for disagreement there -- for genuine, constitutionally-grounded debate about the means.
This fact has largely been lost, due to the gradual devolution of both major parties into grand funding and favor machines, and especially the Democratic Party's hundred-year dance of the seven veils, as it gradually exposes its inner CPUSA. Through this distorting process, a constitutional republic has tacitly come to accept a radically anti-constitutional position as one of the two "mainstream" voices in its political discussion. In other words, it has come to accept that the standard matter of political debate ought to be, not the means to the end of constitutionally protected liberty, but rather the end itself.
It is now as though every national election were to be waged as a new Constitutional Convention, or a referendum on whether to scrap the Declaration of Independence. For that is what the adoption of post-Marxist principles and policies entails. That kind of fundamental rethinking of the nation every two or four years, however, is exactly what the Declaration and Constitution were written and signed to prevent. Benjamin Franklin's "A republic, if you can keep it" is precisely an admonition not to put the republic as such -- i.e., its founding principles -- up for auction. That is, it is a plea to the future not to treat the nation's foundation as just another set of policies to be reconsidered in the light of "changing priorities."
To protect the socialist's constitutionally guaranteed freedom to discuss his views is right and reasonable. To treat his views as fundamentally compatible with the constitutionally established electoral system is absurd. To vote for a socialist or "pre-socialist" faction is to vote against the American founding -- against the republic as such. That the CPUSA is asking Americans to do exactly that is understandable. That the nation's media, its academic establishment at all levels, a large percentage of its religious leadership, and nearly half its adult population should be striding "forward" with the Communist Party in this direction bespeaks a moral crisis of historic proportions.
That a great and well-founded republic should come down to this is a shiver-inducing testament to the transience of all things human. There may be a way out of this world-historical catastrophe. But in order to find it, everyone needs to speak clearly about the nature of the crisis. Job-creation is more lasting and fruitful in a productive free society than in a stifled state-controlled economy. But a free society with high unemployment is morally superior to a regulatory state with low unemployment. That side of the debate -- the moral defense of freedom -- must never be overlooked in favor of jobs per se. Overlooking it allows the left to distort statistics in their favor. If the moral issue is kept front and center, no statistic can save Obama and his cheerleading squad at CNN.
Due to the growth of anti-constitutionalism as a mainstream party platform in America, the real contest in this year's election, on jobs as on everything else, is not Obama's policies vs. Romney's. It is Obama's agenda vs. the foundations of the American republic.
Job-creation is a noble goal, with this all-important proviso: a job produced and performed by free men is the only job worth creating or having in the long run. Romney and the Republicans must never neglect this fact; it is their ace in the hole. All fudged numbers and lies aside, the moral case remains theirs.