IN UNION THERE IS DANGER | 1999-08-14
I recently came across a year old article by George Will. In it, Will discusses the growing secessionist movements around the world. Will is a Lincoln worshipper, so he demands that the Union be enforced, no matter what anybody wants. He concludes, "In the light of the worldwide waxing of centrifugal forces, America's unique combination of vast size and equitably distributed prosperity makes American pre-eminence seem even more likely to be prolonged."
Sounds good. But does it mean anything?
How will America be "pre-eminent?" Does Will think Americans will be richer because we are under the rigid regulatory controls of Washington from coast to coast? That is what our present "vast size" means. Does Will think we will be better off because Federal judges in Washington dictate all our important social policy decisions from coast to coast? That is what his glorious Union means.
In terms of ECONOMICS, an America broken down into smaller POLITICAL units would be at least as big as the United States is now. We would have free trade agreements with countries outside the present United States, which would give us an even larger trade area. We could have free trade with practically the entire world. Our free trade area would be much bigger than the United States.
What we would NOT have would be the choking micromanagement congress and regulatory agencies impose in the name of "interstate commerce."
So would an America broken down into smaller POLITICAL parts be less productive than one run by Washington bureaucrats? Will says so, and he says so flatly and absolutely. Every liberal, and therefore every respectable conservative, assumes this. Their thinking is totally out of date, as always.
Must a political unit be big to be part of a big free trade area? Is it true that Belgium and Luxembourg can't have free trade because they don't have the same government?
The fact is that, in the real world, Belgium and Luxembourg DO have free trade with each other. But George Will just ignores that. No Lincoln worshipper can let reality intrude on his politics.
So Will's idea that the Union is still good for economics is not only incorrect, it's silly. But Will is a respectable conservative, and respectable conservatives are always silly.
Will is always desperate to say something, no matter how absurd, that will get liberals to think he is too sophisticated to stick with reality. In the 1980s, when Reagan was fighting for tax cuts, Will said that, "America is the most undertaxed country on earth."
But is economics all that Will had in mind? Remember that we are dealing here with a real Lincoln fanatic. When Lincoln used words like "pre-eminence," he didn't have economic well being in mind. When Lincoln used words like "pre-eminence," he didn't have anybody's well being in mind.
He meant power. And power is all that respectable conservatives like Will have left of a conservative philosophy.
Respectable conservatives spend their entire political lives selling out in a desperate, hopeless attempt to get liberal approval. To gain liberal approval, they have abandoned every conservative principle.
During the Cold War, conservatives wanted a big military. We thought that was to fight the Cold War. But the Cold War is over, and professional conservatives still want more troops. During the Cold War, we paid most of the cost of Europe's defense. Today, conservatives want to keep on paying the cost of Europe's defense.
Against WHAT? What is the PURPOSE of this giant military conservatives are always demanding? No conservative asks that question. Conservatives want a big military because they want a big military.
Professional conservatives want a big military because the military lobbies give them big bucks. Professional conservatives don't care what the troops or military money is used for, all they care about is serving their lobbies.
Yes, Virginia, the military-industrial complex is real. And yes, the American political right serves it blindly.
So all that is left of the old conservative philosophy is two words
But there is also a psychological reason respectable conservatives love to make loud demands for a big military.
Respectable conservatives know they are wimps. They call it "being reasonable," but some part of their brain registers what they are really doing. I think the constant demands for MORE TROOPS helps a little by making them feel macho. They may be wimps by profession, but they are war heroes by proxy.
In Kosovo, George Will is right there with Senator McCain (Respectable-Arizona). The liberals want war, so he wants it even more. Like McCain, Will has no idea why we got into that war, but he knows what liberals want. So Will's policy on Kosovo was
When Will talks about "pre-eminence", he means what his idol Lincoln would have meant. He means more troops! He means enforced Union. He means a big, powerful America that can kick anybody around that liberals want kicked.
I want none of this. I said what I thought of this kind of imperial thinking in my January 9 article, "The Way To Ruin: Being 'The World's Last Remaining Superpower."