Thomas Sowell

Some elections are routine, some are important and some are historic. If Senator John McCain wins this election, it will probably go down in history as routine. But if Senator Barack Obama wins, it is more likely to be historic-- and catastrophic.

Once the election is over, the glittering generalities of rhetoric and style will mean nothing. Everything will depend on performance in facing huge challenges, domestic and foreign.

Performance is where Barack Obama has nothing to show for his political career, either in Illinois or in Washington.

Policies that he proposes under the banner of "change" are almost all policies that have been tried repeatedly in other countries-- and failed repeatedly in other countries.

Politicians telling businesses how to operate? That's been tried in countries around the world, especially during the second half of the 20th century. It has failed so often and so badly that even socialist and communist governments were freeing up their markets by the end of the century.

The economies of China and India began their take-off into high rates of growth when they got rid of precisely the kinds of policies that Obama is advocating for the United States under the magic mantra of "change."

Putting restrictions on international trade in order to save jobs at home? That was tried here with the Hawley-Smoot tariff during the Great Depression.

Unemployment was 9 percent when that tariff was passed to save jobs, but unemployment went up instead of down, and reached 25 percent before the decade was over.

Higher taxes to "spread the well around," as Obama puts it? The idea of redistributing wealth has turned into the reality of redistributing poverty, in countries where wealth has fled and the production of new wealth has been stifled by a lack of incentives.

Economic disasters, however, may pale by comparison with the catastrophe of Iran with nuclear weapons. Glib rhetoric about Iran being "a small country," as Obama called it, will be a bitter irony for Americans who will have to live in the shadow of a nuclear threat that cannot be deterred, as that of the Soviet Union could be, by the threat of a nuclear counter-attack.

Suicidal fanatics cannot be deterred. If they are willing to die and we are not, then we are at their mercy-- and they have no mercy. Moreover, once they get nuclear weapons, that is a situation which cannot be reversed, either in this generation or in generations to come.

Is this the legacy we wish to leave our children and grandchildren, by voting on the basis of style and symbolism, rather than substance?

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate