In life, there are occasionally moments of great clarity. Sure enough, in the past couple of weeks there was a defining moment that patently identified who truly represents Republican principles and who are just impostors. Ironically, the pretenders turned out to be the supposed conservatives in the race for the Republican nomination for President, and the candidate who stands for the most fundamental principles of the capitalist system is the one accused of being squishy.
I’m sure you’ve heard that two gentlemen (Gingrich and Perry), each vying for the mantle of the “true conservative” in the Presidential race, in what was characterized by many as an act of utter desperation attacked the methods by which Bain Capital earned money while their opponent, Mitt Romney, was at the helm. They used pejorative terms – such as “vulture capitalism” – to describe the investment activities of Romney and his crew. What Gingrich and Perry have proven is that they will readily abandon our most important values for the sake of personal gain.
Both Perry and Gingrich are career politicians. They may be Republicans, but they are still career politicians who only understand our economy through the eyes of government. Both men have attained powerful positions during their careers, in which they have had the opportunity to influence the largesse awarded to their constituency. Some people call this “crony capitalism”; others label it “socialist capitalism”. Either way, it portrays leaders who make bets with other people’s money – with no personal risk of their own. Mr. Gingrich’s delusion is so deeply embedded that he actually believes that the company he formed to influence government spending (glad-handing) was equivalent to free enterprise.
This is exactly why the Tea Party began – they were sick of Republicans acting like Democrats. They were fed up with Republicans who participated in the expansion of government by handing out the public’s hard-earned money to those who twist the arms of the people in power. The situation had gotten so bad that most liberals were puzzled. Even my brother-in-law, a deeply confused left-winger, asked “What do Republicans stand for if they don’t control spending?”
Gingrich and Perry show what a lifetime in government can do to anyone. If you’ve never experienced risk, you develop a disdain for the entrepreneurs, the business-builders, who actually take risks. Romney spent the best part of his life putting his name, his family, and his well-being on the line to create financial success for himself – and he understood that the only way he could achieve that success was if others succeeded as well. If companies in which he invested grew and expanded, their value would grow along with their profits. This is what is called capitalism – an American system that Romney lived and in which he succeeded. He truly gets it. Only individuals who view our economy through the prism of government would criticize his actions.
The left, given voice through the mainstream media, question the values of capitalism. They advocate the expansion of our society’s safety net not just for the truly impaired, but for the morally challenged. They believe that government should choose winners and losers; much like Obama did by crushing the shareholders, bondholders, and owners of dealerships at GM to reward his favored constituency – the unions. Or they rejoice in “investing” government dollars in “green energy” companies like Solyndra because it’s the “right thing to do” – despite the fact that no one risking their own money would ever dream of funding these projects. These government-centric transactions are reminiscent of the failures of the Soviet system, whose capacity for picking losers was legendary.
These people are truly misguided. They deified Steve Jobs after his death, but conveniently forgot that without venture capital, he would likely have remained an unknown hippie. They bemoan deregulation of capitalism, but fail to realize that we would probably be walking around with six pound rotary phones without the free market at work. They hate capitalism’s effects, but worship the productions on HBO that would never exist without government getting out of the way.
Gingrich and Perry have finally brought clarity to this election. They have drawn a bright line for Republicans – are you a capitalist or are you for government making decisions. Are Republicans just the same as Democrats, just a little less, or do we believe that economic choices are best left in the hands of individuals? Thankfully, neither of these two candidates will be doing anything other than licking their wounds – and hopefully, reading Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. Who knew that Romney would turn out to be the true conservative in the race?
We now know what this election is going to be about: We’re going to put capitalism on trial. Romney will be running as the capitalist. Obama will be the cradle-to-grave government guy. Now as the great boxing referee Mills Lane would say “Let’s get it on.”
But God forbid for the future of this country and the free world if Romney and capitalism do not win.