Friday, September 26, 2008

If the Bailout Fails, a New Political Movement Could Grow

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 9/26/08

We have seen here the call for consensus all week. If we don’t get the agreement by Friday the bear will come out of the woods. It is as if consensus itself is the answer, and I’ve heard a former head of Securities Exchange Commission say just that. Makes us all feel good about ourselves. This is not about Democrats and Republicans, this is about being Americans.

But it is just that fraternal nature which has reinforced bipartisan incompetence in Congress and even catastrophe in our times. Especially when both parties rushed in a similar manner to approve George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq without, as West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd said, so much as a brief discussion on the floor of Congress. Wasn’t time for discussion; needed to act fast before Al Qaeda snuck a dirty bomb into Cleveland or dropped WMDs into the porridge. They’re coming in the windows.

But there is a real division developing here now and if they don’t get an agreement by Friday it could well begin to subsidize a new political direction and a possibly even a new political party. And it would begin with Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, who attended the meeting and yesterday said, "we will not have a deal."

I hope they pass the bailout, but seeing Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, Barack Obama and Harry Reid all huggy bear is no pretty picture in my mind. Nor it is at all reassuring watching the current worthies gather with history’s leftovers at the Clinton Global Initiative where they shamelessly self promote and preen in vanity’s yuppie equivalent of the court of Louis quatorze and in make believe pretend to solve the glut of the world problems which they themselves created, including this one. We seem to have come in our times from citizen to consumer and now to a binary horde, our political and spiritual origins forgotten and our families and traditions abandoned for the pink and light blue ties of the unified corporate culture of Clinton Democrats and Bush Republicans.

In my neighborhood up here in northern New England people have suddenly started growing very large vegetable gardens. They bought out the country store’s stock of potatoes and onions on the first day of the season. They bought every wood stove available in northern New England. They even bought out stock of one-day-old baby chicks from national distributors, which is unprecedented in our time. They have lost faith. They are waiting for something.

There have been rumors of third party for several years now, a good one supported by William Weld and Angus King, possibly the most enlightened of recent governors in the northeast, and a new back-to-gold movement by conservative libertarian Ron Paul.

Say want you like, but up here the same fear they had of Ronald Reagan and the same scorn for Sarah Palin they display for Ron Paul, which if nothing more is a harbinger. Ron Paul had a clear plan in opposition to the two-headed Uniparty of Barack McCain. Nothing fancy, and in some ways as simple as hanging clothes out on the line to dry.

Paul was of course famously not allowed to appear at the Republican convention this year; too ornery and unpredictable. On Fox news shortly before he quoted Upton Sinclair writing if America ever became a fascist country it would do so waiving the cross and wrapped in the American flag. No telling what he’d say. But I couldn’t help notice that when Henry Paulson first rushed into the room, some of the first interview requests called in by the networks were for Ron Paul.

The other day Newt Gingrich said that what John McCain should do is oppose the plan. Obama embraces it and aligned himself with President Bush. Gingrich said it was a bad plan and the voters would know that by November. If McCain opposed, he would open a new direction in the Republican Party and take the day in November.

Too late for McCain. He’s all about not being on the Letterman show so’s to gird for economic war with the others. Are we not men? Too late for Obama, too.

And if they don’t have Paulson’s plan by Friday, Gingrich said, they will not have his plan thereafter.

Even Paul said that what has happened this week on Wall Street is the natural path for our economy as we have planned it in our times through the several decades, but you can’t just let it die overnight. You need a different economy, which he has proposed all along, but it will take time.

If we don’t have a plan by Friday we will begin to have a new direction; a new direction in politics, culture and economy because they are all related. It will begin to be drawn by Newt Gingrich, Richard Shelby, Richard Viguerie, who pioneered organizational advancement for the Christian Coalition, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

“The word out of Washington this afternoon is that Congress and the Bush administration are very close to an agreement on The ‘Bailout,’” Huckabee said last night in an email message to supporters. “I can't tell you how disappointed and disgusted I am with this news. Like most Americans I have no idea what this ‘Sweetheart’ deal will consist of, but I do know that forcing the American people to accept the secretive work of Washington politicians is just plain wrong.”

Although it has been largely unseen by Washington eyes, Viguerie, who brought the Christian Coalition to be a formidable political establishment at the rise of the Reagan era, has made progress in this election cycle in converging the culture of his constituents with the economics of Ron Paul. They have always seemed a likely alliance in the Jefferson tradition.

“Stop the bailout,” Viguerie said in an email to supporters. “Congress and the administration are preparing to pass a bailout of Wall Street and of the corrupt and incompetent corporations that – along with Washington politicians and bureaucrats – are responsible for the current mess. It is going to cost each family in America $10,000, and perhaps much, much more. And that’s just the beginning.”

Viguerie and Paul together form an amorphous political culture waiting for a trigger event to make it happen. This could be it.