Tonight’s Republican presidential debate might well witness the surrender of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. I don’t mean his dropping out of the race but rather the almost-certain abandonment of his principles, in the hopes of being taken seriously by the mainstream press and public.
In an article last Friday, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote an interesting article entitled “Rick Perry’s Campaign Against the New Deal,” in which Gerson pointed out several radical things that Perry has stated in the past about Franklin Roosevelt’s famous program.
According to Gerson, Perry told Newsweek last fall, “I happen to think that the Progressive movement was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution from the standpoint of it being abused and misused to do things that Congress wanted to do, and/or the Supreme Court wanted to implement. The New Deal was the launching pad for the Washington largess as we know it today.”
Gerson also observes that Perry has pointed out that Social Security, which is the crown jewel of the New Deal and the modern-day welfare state, is a “Ponzi scheme,” a “monstrous lie,” and a “failure” that “we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now.”
That’s not exactly the kind of rhetoric that is common to conservatives — well, at least not for the past several decades. That’s the way libertarians talk! For years, we’ve been pointing out that Roosevelt’s new-fangled program that he foisted on the American people was nothing more than a socialist-fascist system, one that rejected the principles of economic liberty, private property, and limited government on which America was founded.
Consider, for example, Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act, which established cartels for American businesses and industries, cartels that would work in partnership with the federal government to set prices, wages, production, and working conditions.
How could such a system not be considered fascist? It’s precisely the type of program that Benito Mussolini was establishing in fascist Italy.
Moreover, Roosevelt’s infamous Blue Eagle campaign, with its program of threats and intimidation against businessmen who refused to participate, was straight out of Mussolini’s playbook.
For an excellent analysis of Roosevelt’s socialist-fascist program, I recommend the book Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch.
Here’s a review of the book by David Boaz of the Cato Institute entitled “Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt.”
Hitler? Yes Hitler, whose program of National Socialism included Social Security, public works, a military-industrial complex, government health care, public schooling, and government-business partnerships. Why wouldn’t he love Roosevelt’s new-fangled program for America? Consider this passage from John Toland’s biography of Hitler:
Hitler had genuine admiration for the decisive manner in which the President had taken over the reins of government. “I have sympathy for Mr. Roosevelt,” he told a correspondent for the New York Times two months later, “because he marches straight toward his objectives over Congress, lobbies and bureaucracy.” Hitler went on to note that he was the sole leader in Europe who expressed “understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt.”
Consider this personal note that Hitler sent Roosevelt through U.S. Ambassador Thomas Dodd on March 14, 1934, reflecting the economic philosophy shared in common by Hitler and Roosevelt:
The Reich chancellor requests Mr. Dodd to present his greetings to President Roosevelt. He congratulates the president upon his heroic effort in the interest of the American people. The president’s successful struggle against economic distress is being followed by the entire German people with interest and admiration. The Reich chancellor is in accord with the president that the virtues of sense of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline must be the supreme rule of the whole nation. This moral demand, which the president is addressing to every single citizen, is only the quintessence of German philosophy of the state, expressed in the motto “The public weal before the private gain.”
So, what will Perry do now? Will he call for the immediate dismantling of a system that he himself knows is immoral and destructive? Or will he do what most every conservative has done since the 1930s — abandon his principles and meekly support Social Security, Medicare, and the entire welfare state he himself condemns?
My hunch: He’ll throw in the towel, in order to appear more mainstream, more credible.
Why do I say that? Because ever since the New Deal, conservatives have always caved. That’s been their modus. In the 1930s and 1940s, there were still conservatives who talked like we libertarians talk today, but as the years went by they realized that to speak the truth about the New Deal and, later, the Great Society, might well cost them votes, influence, money, and political power.
Thus, conservatives learned to seal their lips and, even worse, began promoting the idea to their children and others that Roosevelt’s socialist-fascist program was actually a much-needed reform that saved America’s free enterprise system.
Gerson gives two examples of conservative cave-ins.
In his 1976 presidential campaign. Ronald Reagan stated, “Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal.” But his presidency, Gerson points out, was “an extended accommodation with the New Deal…. Social Security spending rose dramatically during the Reagan years.”
In his 1964 campaign, Barry Goldwater stated, “I think Social Security ought to be voluntary.” But when challenged, Goldwater answered, “I don’t know where you ever got the idea.”
What’s interesting is that Perry is a devout Christian. Why, just recently he hosted a national prayer session in Houston in which thousands attended. If he caves, which is likely, how is he going to reconcile his religious devotion with his support of a program that he himself knows is immoral and destructive? How does he resolve it within his own conscience? How does he explain his abandonment to God?
The amusing part of this controversy is that for years the mainstream has marginalized libertarians for speaking the truth about what Roosevelt did to our nation with his socialist-fascist program, and yet here is a mainstream presidential candidate leading the polls in the Republican Party spouting the same things we libertarians have been saying for decades. How’s that for funny?
I’d like to think that this time things will be different. I’d like to hope that Perry will be one conservative who won’t surrender, who won’t reject his own beliefs, who won’t trade himself for a mess of pottage, one who will call for the immediate dismantling of Social Security, Medicare, and the rest of the socialist-fascist scheme that Roosevelt foisted upon our nation.
I’m not holding my breath.