2012 May Lack Drama, but Not Significance
Will the Keynesian principles that have guided economic policy for generations be affirmed or replaced by a belief that smaller government will make room for a more vibrant private sector?
Should Social Security, under pressure from the ever-growing costs of an aging population, remain a government-run, taxpayer-financed, guaranteed-benefit program? Or should it be reinvented to allow workers to invest in, and assume some of the risk for, their own retirements?
Is it necessary for government to reshape the private health care system in order to bring insurance coverage to those who do not have it, or can tax incentives and other free-market principles take care of the problem?
Are banks and investment firms being stifled by over-regulation as they try to finance economic growth, or are they irresponsibly reverting back to the casino-like culture that brought us the last financial crisis?
Are we heating our planet at a rate that demands substantial and immediate changes in the way we use energy, or is the evidence still insufficient to require that we assume the costs of altering the way we live?
The list goes on, amounting to a huge ideological front in the combat over a long series of issues. And on many of those issues, time is fast running out for the nation to make up its mind about how to proceed, giving additional urgency to outcome this time around.
“American politics sees this kind of dynamic happen every few generations, and it seems to sneak up on us,” said Anthony R. Dolan, who was Reagan’s chief speechwriter and served as an adviser this political season to Newt Gingrich. “A president governs in an unexpected manner, and it becomes a defining moment in our political history.”
The stakes for conservatives this year could be greater than in 1980, Mr. Dolan said, if only because much of the case against President Jimmy Carter back then was about competence, whereas with Mr. Obama the case is about fundamental philosophy.
lolwut?“He’s decided he’s going to start a mission to change America and its bourgeois consciousness,” Mr. Dolan said of Mr. Obama.