Politics-as-Usual Are Over in the US?
By Staff News & Analysis - May 18, 2011

The Republican Presidential campaign is off to a slow start, but judging by the last week not slow enough. First Mitt Romney defends his ObamaCare prototype in Massachusetts, and now Newt Gingrich (left) has decided to run against House Republicans on Medicare. They must be loving this at the White House. Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday about Paul Ryan's reform plan, Mr. Gingrich chose to throw his former allies in the GOP House not so much under the bus as off the Grand Canyon rim. – Wall Street Journal

Dominant Social Theme: We'll cover politics as we always have here in the US mainstream media, but for some reason things are changing. We're not quite sure why …

Free-Market Analysis: Times are changing in America, even if the mainstream media doesn't quite "get it." But the changes in our view are making those who write for the mainstream media fairly cranky. The Journal article excerpted above is a good example.

According to the Journal, newly announced US presidential candidate Newt Gingrich labeled the House program proposed by House Budget Chairman's Congressman Paul Ryan as "too big a jump." Gingrich wants a system that offers people better solutions without having such solutions imposed on them. "I'm against ObamaCare, which is imposing radical change. And I would be against a conservative imposing radical change," he said.

By using the word "radical," the Journal article points out, Gingrich is deliberately polarizing the debate. And yet almost every single House Republican voted for a version of the Ryan bill as part of a larger budget outline. His words were immediately resented because of the heated nature of the budget battle. House Republicans saw him as undermining them.

Gingrich himself later on agreed that he "probably used too strong language" in characterizing the Ryan approach but claimed he was worried about the Ryan perspective and "the right to choose versus being forced to choose." He then followed up on a TV news program by using the word "catastrophic," as in, "I think it would be politically catastrophic to pass the bill in its current form." It surely doesn't sound as if Gingrich really wants to lower the level of his rhetoric.

Poor Gingrich. A believer in his own brilliance, he probably thinks there is an opportunity for a more "moderate" GOP candidate to run to daylight. He will run in the gap between perennial Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) in order to generate gains that would not be possible otherwise. But according to the grumpy Journal, it is sheer opportunism. His charge of radicalism "is false in any case" as Ryan's bill is based on a "premium support" model that is in use in California and elsewhere.

As the Journal explains it, private Medicare plans, funded by the government at a base price of US$15,000, would compete to attract seniors under the Ryan plan. With consumers paying the marginal costs of their own care, providers and insurers will begin to compete on price and quality. In fact, 15 years ago, Gingrich pushed a "Medicare Plus" reform "that shared many of the same features as Mr. Ryan's." It would even have become law if Clinton hadn't vetoed it.

What's the Journal's conclusion? "He is trashing Mr. Ryan for thinking far more deeply about health care, and in a far more principled fashion, than Mr. Gingrich ever has. The episode reveals the Georgian's weakness as a candidate, and especially as a potential President – to wit, his odd combination of partisan, divisive rhetoric and poll-driven policy timidity. " The Journal analysis sums up the two politicians this way: "Mr. Ryan speaks softly but proposes policies commensurate with America's problems. Mr. Gingrich speaks loudly but shrinks from hard choices."

Is there an emergent new tone in American politics and its coverage? As proponents of the Internet Reformation, we've been waiting for it. And we are detecting signs. Most recently, a shocking poll by Gallup revealed that a majority of Americans "want to see the establishment of a third political party because the main parties are not offering a significant or satisfying choice."

According to an article in gadfly Capitol Hill Blue, "A new Gallup Poll shows 52 percent of Republicans want a third party. The same poll shows 60 percent of those who identify themselves with the tea party want a third party. Gallup says a majority of Americans overall have wanted to see a third party since 2006."

This surely makes sense. A large part of the Democratic Party wants the government out of the bedroom and wants a reduction in America's overseas military. A large part of the Republican base wants the government's hand out of people's pocketbook. It would seem, then, that there is an anti-government, quasi-libertarian base available to a third party that would number in the tens of millions.

This may account for the popularity of conservative libertarian candidate Ron Paul. The dirty secret of American politics turns out to be that the electorate itself is not so much right or left as libertarian. If so, Capitol Hill Blue asks, why doesn't the US "have a real third party movement?" According to Jeffrey Young of Gallup (as quoted by Blue), "under the current political system, which is controlled by the power brokers of the Democratic and Republican parties, a third party candidate cannot win." A third party candidate can – and has – decided the outcome of an election, however, as Blue points out.

We tend to believe the changing shape of American politics has more to do with the Internet than any sudden shift in electoral preference. Bill Clinton's presidency was the first Internet presidency and the latter half of his regime was tortured by Matt Drudge's revelations about Monica Lewinsky. The alternative media on the Internet in the West and especially in America has only become more powerful since then. It is has virtually reshaped the narrative of Western politics and especially American politics.

It is increasingly impossible to maintain one of the Anglosphere elite's main dominant social themes, that government is good and effective. In fact, over the past decade, Western government began to unravel at a significant pace. Both in America and Europe neither government nor politicians are in good odor.

In the US, George W. Bush's latter four years were relentlessly battered on the Internet, which exposed his "compassionate conservatism" as demagogic and militaristic socialism. Barack Obama's democratic socialism has proven no different than the Republican kind.

Having experienced some 18 years of Democratic and Republican rule under the stern gaze of Internet coverage, people – especially Tea-party oriented Americans – have finally come to the conclusion that both parties use different phraseology but the same programs to achieve similar ruinous results. Many Europeans are coming to the same conclusion. As the old verities topple and as the mainstream media establishment is not available to provide the usual duplicitous spin, the realities of the national situation begin to emerge.

After Thoughts

Newt Gingrich is a 20th century politician who apparently does not understand how much things may have changed. Ironically, the man who understands best what has occurred is the oldest politician in the field by far – Ron Paul, in his later 70s. Dr. Ron Paul, who is running for US president again, will do very well in this cycle in our view. Truly a libertarian, anti-politician – anti-militaristic and pro-business – with no charisma other than his free-market ideas, the race may be his to lose. And like Ronald Reagan before him, he may just go all the way.

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