Why Mitt Romney? A strong economy driven by the private sector, coupled with strong international support for other free peoples such as we who live here in Australia and for whom American forward defence is a crucial matter for our own long term survival. These are the outcomes he represents. These are outcomes that an Obama presidency not only fails to support but in every action it takes shows itself opposed to every one of these outcomes.
The American election will be one for the ages. At the very centre is the question, does Barack Obama truly represent the mainstream of the American ethos and its core beliefs as they now are, here at the start of the twenty-first century? The election will not just be about Obama’s policies themselves, bad as they certainly would be, nor will it be about the almost impossibility of reversing the course that will have been taken if Obama is re-elected, which will indeed be nigh on irreversible.
No, the election will be about whether the United States is any longer the country it once was, a country of free markets and a free people. A United States that can elect Barack Obama once is on the edge of a precipice. To elect him for the second time knowing everything we now know from his first four years as president means the US has gone over the edge.
The march through the institutions that began in the 1960s will have been finally completed. The ethos of an America that will not only be free itself but ensure whatever is necessary to maintain freedom in as much of the world as can be retrieved will have gone. We, in our till now free societies, will be largely on our own with no major power to shield us from totalitarian winds of every kind and gusting from all directions.
Barack Obama is a socialist of the most radical leftist kind. His mentors, just to name the three most prominent, were Frank Marshall, Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers. That the vast majority of the population has no idea who these people are, or the role they played in Obama’s life, is in turn a consequence of the deep leftward turn of the American media forging ahead in step with the social sciences division of the major educational institutions of the United States. The commanding heights of the intellectual world have been taken over by the left and they have created an environment all but impossible to break through. It is only common sense in combination with the disastrous outcomes that leftist policies inevitably lead to that creates the hope that trends now in place can be turned round and reversed. The institutional structure of the United States permits change driven from below if it becomes widely understood that change is necessary. That is the story of this election. Will the American people see the danger in time or will they continue in the direction of the likely ruin that a second Obama administration would bring?
The American Media
The media everywhere have generally been supporters of the left side of the political spectrum but whether because of the availability of alternative sources of information or because of an even more decided shift to the left, the flow of information to the community is now so entirely biased that views of a mainstream Republican can hardly find their way into the national conversation. In many respects media reports and analysis consist of Democrat Party talking points. For the Republican Party, it is as if all games are away games with the media providing the crowd noise. A goal by the home team comes with cheers and general all round satisfaction. A goal by the other side is met with polite applause or even silence. A foul behind play by a player on the Democrat team is taken as part of the rough and tumble of the game. A much lesser offence committed by the Republican away team brings down the hostility of the crowd, ie, the mass condemnation of the media.
The differences in the coverage of the Iraqi War during the Bush presidency in contrast with Obama’s term in office is, of course, quite extraordinary but utterly brazen. It is hypocritical but so what. It is the entire point but who is to call out the media on its hypocrisy. They are perfectly aware of their position and what their attitude is. The question for Republicans is, what you going to do about it?
And it is not that the media are in some ordinary sense corrupt and corrupted. They are not in the pay of anyone or are influenced to take positions against their own beliefs. It is, instead, that these are the views of the mainstream media, the MSM. They call it like they see it, but they see it with eyes focused far to the left. It is not possible to succeed in the media unless one sees issues in this way. The hiring practices of the MSM organisations are designed in a kind of apostolic succession of like-minded individuals of the left in major positions of influence.
There is, thus, a co-ordination between the President and the media in which both see Obama’s re-election as an end deeply to be desired. They are in cahoots, amplifying the good and hiding the bad for the Democrats while for the Republicans it is the reverse.
As already noted, the Iraq War represents a bias of colossal proportions. During the presidency of G.W. Bush, The New York Times saw nothing odd about publishing material harmful to the conduct of the war on its front pages. It provided information to al Qaeda about programs being run by the CIA that led to al Qaeda changing tactics and allowing organisation and its operatives to become even harder to detect. Whatever infringement of rights there was at Guantanamo is nothing to outright killing by the Obama administration of al Qaeda operatives through drone attacks which have included the deaths of American citizens. Yet since the change of administration, there has been absolutely no media criticism of any serious kind about the conduct of the war. The promise to close Guantanamo in his first year in office, following the never ceasing clamour of the media while Bush was President, has now gone by the boards without a murmur of dissent from the same press who could at one time never leave the issue alone. That it is pure politics is evident but this is merely proof for those who already know the media score.
"You Didn’t Build That"
The most revealing moment of the campaign prior to the conventions was Obama’s off-teleprompter statement to business that “you didn’t build that”. The full text makes it clear that Obama was trying to make the case for higher taxes by belittling the contribution of individual business owners to the success of their own businesses. Here is what he said, and if you also listen to him speak, the anger is unmistakable.
“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Here Obama is trivializing the work and effort of entrepreneurs in making the sacrifices and taking the risks in setting up and managing their own businesses. This went straight to the heart of the American experiment and to the very nature of the free enterprise system. No one doubts that the incredible infrastructure, both social and physical, that has been put together over the centuries has been an essential element in the individual success of anyone who has achieved that success. But much if not most of that infrastructure had not been built by governments, and even where it had been, governments were (and are) the agents of the community, not some separate and independent entity, a law unto themselves. Such infrastructure had been paid for by the collective tax payments of the community. And in most instances, it was not “the government” that did the work but private sector firms paid by governments with the tax moneys received from the community.
And even then, the free market works by individuals making their own personal decisions to run some firm or undertake some project purely on their own initiative. It is precisely that these are not organized by and through government that has made the United States the engine of innovation and growth that it has become. Obama’s statement went against everything that has made America what it is.
But the point here is that the media instinctively knew that this was so. Obama’s statement was indefensible. There was virtually no construction that could be put on the words or a context that would make what Obama said anything different from what his critics had said. It was therefore not reported. The story continued for weeks in the blogs and amongst those who recognized in Obama’s words the revelation of his true socialist beliefs. So far as the media were concerned, it was necessary to tamp down the controversy and ride it out for however long it took.
And so it has gone away and I say this even though it remains a theme of the Republican campaign. It never became a media sensation that spread across the consciousness of the entire American community and does not and will not be discussed within the MSM. Amongst those who would never anyway vote for Obama, this was a major talking point. On some blogs and Fox News, on radio talkback and some small components of the media, the story continued and was and is discussed. But my initial interest in the story was amplified by the recognition that the story could not be discussed with anyone who did not make an effort to keep up with the news via the websites of the right side of the political divide. Virtually no one I knew was aware of what Obama had said.
Here was a teaching moment that would instruct anyone with an interest in such issues about the nature of the President and what dangers he represents. This was beyond policy and the choice of programs to support and went directly to the underlying philosophy. That the media are consciously taking this direction is incontrovertible but that there is little that can be done is equally clear. For the Republicans, there is nothing other than to recognize this as part of the equation. They are always the away team, and there will never be the crowd noise to support them. The media will always carry forward the message that the Democrats wish to portray in just the way it can be disguised so that the actual intentions of the left side of politics are not fully reflected in the news that most people see, read and hear.
Romney and the Media
Even for someone such as myself, attuned to the issues in the same way as Romney, my own ability to see Romney’s virtues as a candidate were not easy to pick up at this distance transmitted as they generally had to be via the same suspect media that could not be trusted to tell a conservative story with honesty and accuracy. Romney is the Ronald Reagan of our generation. He is conservative in his instincts and policies, seeks a return to the decentralized kind of economic structures that have been the traditional source of America’s strengths, and would defend American foreign policy interests through defending and supporting America’s allies.
But the filter through which all of this passed started from the premise that Obama was the ideal candidate, intelligent, articulate and would require someone of the same kind to win head to head with the President. The media had, as I now think, made the very shrewd and accurate assessment that the most formidable opponent for Obama was indeed Romney. There was therefore an almost continuous effort to elevate each of the other Republican candidates beyond their capabilities as a means of slowing the Romney momentum and to drain his finances during the primary campaign. The focus, in turn, on Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and then finally Rick Santorum, were given major assistance by the media, with Santorum almost in the end gaining enough momentum to win it all. It was a mere handful of votes in the Michigan primary that may have been all the difference between Romney and Santorum.
Even with the nomination finally secure, it has been close to impossible to find a kind word about the Republican nominee anywhere in the media. Instead, every effort is made to portray him as stumbling, unlikeable and mistake-prone when he is anything but. Romney’s overseas venture to the UK, Israel and Poland were portrayed as one mis-statement following another when they were in fact evidence of someone who really can show international leadership and may assist in diminishing the world’s hostility to American interests and our own.
There was recognition of a mistake of sorts when Romney mentioned the potentially insufficient security arrangements at the London Olympics with the possibly most interesting and revealing outcome the deep criticism it called up from the British PM. But in Israel, Romney’s meeting with Benyamin Netenyahu and in Poland with Lech Walesa were resounding successes, not just for the candidate himself, but towards a more traditional American foreign policy. Both Netenyahu and Walesa in every way but formally endorsed Romney for president. This was all but hidden under the barrage of criticism the media provided day after day without stop.
Yet as important as foreign policy may be, the singularly critical issue of our time is the mismanagement of the American economy and the pall that has cast on economies across the world. Blame Bush if you wish for allowing the financial crisis to commence on his watch, but the responsibility passed to Obama in 2009 and he has turned a serious downturn into a prolonged and ever deepening economic crisis. Obama, once the stimulus had failed, has had no idea what to do. And to the extent that he has a policy, it amounts to raising taxes on the more affluent and spending more money on useless programs similar to the disastrous bailout of the automotive industry. Nothing in Obama’s past has outfitted him to manage an economy in such distress.
Romney on the other hand may be uniquely fitted for these times. While his career at Bain Capital has been portrayed as a negative – cutting employment, closing businesses and sending jobs elsewhere – his work had been in resurrection of near terminal firms. The ability to assess a failing company, and to see what can be preserved, requires a very gifted eye indeed. A failing firm is failing and if its management, which presumably knew its strengths and weaknesses best, was unable to revive its fortunes it is normally unlikely for someone else to come in and do so instead. But that is just what Bain Capital did.
It took over assets where the management had failed. And while in some instances it did cut employment, close businesses and send jobs off shore, it also saved many firms from going under and brought back to life businesses that were near death, in this way engineering growth and creating jobs. One would therefore think that in such dire economic times, Romney, far from being the wrong man for the presidency, is perfectly designed to do what needs to be done. Given his very public saving of the Winter Olympics in 2002, there are many reasons to believe that he could do for the American economy what Obama cannot.
The Child is Father of the Man
But the case for Romney is not just built on how ideal, how well suited he is for the task ahead but also on how unsuited Obama is. In this, understanding his background and the company he has kept ought to have been an important part of what everyone would know but has remained invisible to everyone who has not actively sought this information out.
The mentoring of Obama is itself an incredible story that will not break through into the media. It is known well enough by those who wish to look and is easily verified. Frank Marshall, a lifelong communist till his death, was the most important influence on the young Obama. He is mentioned obliquely in Dreams from My Father, and there is no question of his massive role in Obama’s early life. There is much that is known about Marshall and Obama that has made its way into print and into the blogs but none of it has reached the media at any stage in any way of serious importance. Just the fact that there was this influence ought at least be worth a comment. Untouched it remains, however, because such a discussion would undermine the narrative and put a possible blemish into the record that might raise questions that really would be raised by a less partisan media. But things being as they are they do not get mentioned at all. It was Marshall who sent Obama off to Chicago with his blessings which is where Obama’s real education took place.
The Saul Alinsky connection is the essence of the Chicago experience. Alinsky is quite possibly the most formidable political organizer in American history. His Rules for Radicals is the handbook of the American left. It is a guide to action designed for use by “community organisers”, Obama’s very job title in Chicago. The core Alinsky tactic to bring “Revolution” to America starts with the fundamental prescription that demanding that the US stand up for its own best principles even in dealing with its enemies is the way to weaken it and ultimately bring capitalism down. Overload the system with demands for “justice” and eventually the system will no longer be able to function because of the demands that have been placed upon it. No system can guarantee that no one will end up poor or less well off than others. Whether it is talent, initiative, strength of character or merely blind luck, outcomes will be different. It is trading on this fact of life that turns an individual into a community organizer in the Obama mould, basing their policies on the ability to enlist the well meaning attitudes of the general public.
The American approach has been to allow everyone to follow their own course in life. Social structures in the United States have been designed not just to permit but to encourage individual success. But they have also been designed to assist those who for whatever reason have not been able to succeed on their own or who may have fallen on bad times. But there are not infinite resources available. To demand from government and society the righting of every wrong, a social insurance for every setback, is to burden a community with demands that can never be met. It is this tactic that the Alinsky School of radical reconstruction for the United States is based upon. This is the school of social action in which Barack Obama has been raised, which he practised in Chicago and has never repudiated nor been asked to.
The third in this triumvirate of influence is the former Weatherman and far left socialist, Bill Ayers. If you don’t know who he is, you should find out. Google his name because it is certain the media are never going to tell you. But there is no one farther to the left than Ayers and it was Ayers who mentored Obama after his arrival in Chicago.
Described by Obama during the election campaign in 2008 as just someone he knew in the neighbourhood, he is anything but a casual acquaintance. It was Ayers who set Obama up as the CEO of the Annenberg Challenge in Chicago, it was in Ayers’ own living room that Obama launched his political career, and it was Ayers who was the actual author of the Obama’s supposed autobiography, Dreams from My Father. His role as the author of Dreams, conjectured by Jack Cashill before the 2008 election, was confirmed in a sympathetic account of the Obama marriage published in 2009. Here is what is known.
On two occasions, before running for office and as a complete nobody, Obama was offered contracts to write his autobiography. On the first occasion, he took the commission and then never delivered. Nevertheless, he was offered a second contract from a different publisher and found himself floundering again. So, as innocently described in Christopher Andersen’s Barack and Michelle: Portrait from an American Marriage, he was advised by his wife to seek the help of Bill Ayers, an accomplished author who had written an autobiography of his own. If you would like to know all of the details, Cashill’s Deconstructing Obama is the place to go.
But in essence, from a set of notes and interviews Obama had put together in trying to write the book himself, Ayers wrote a narrative loosely based on the facts as described by Obama. That so many of the supposedly actual persons in his autobiography Obama has now had to admit were mere “composites” is just one of the outcomes from the way in which the book was constructed. But the major issue is that the autobiography was itself the only credential Obama had ever offered as someone who had a legitimate claim to become the president of the United States.
A minor employee in an office in New York, a tutor in law at the University of Chicago, a one-term state legislator in Illinois and a two-year Senate career are hardly the credentials that can be added to work as a community organizer to construct a CV for someone to lead the most important political entity on the planet. But with a radical past as evident as his, it is only because of a point blank refusal by the American media to allow into the national conversation all of the facts known across conservative blog sites that has permitted such a travesty of the political process to occur. That it may be allowed to recur is hardly beyond the realm of possibility.
And the result would mean that someone who might have put the American ship of state back on course would have been rejected, becoming a footnote in history, a might-have-been-but-never-was. A man whose personal qualities and past experience ought to make him an ideal leader in times such as these would never have been allowed to try his hand. A value system that makes him care for the personally disadvantaged, an understanding of how large social systems work, along with beliefs that make him disdain attempts to cure America’s problems from the remote bureaucracies of Washington DC constitute a rare combination. He is a problem solver with an expertise in fixing economic problems at a time when the largest problems to be fixed are largely but by no means solely economic.
But he is surrounded by an academic social sciences culture that is largely left-leaning and socialist. It is this same culture that has permeated the news media so that viable solutions are not entertained by this socialist mindset in the name of collectivist schemes of every variety that have never worked in practice and never will. Winning this election will start a process of house cleaning of ideas that have been the curse of practical politics for generations. There is every reason to believe that Romney is perfectly clear eyed about the venomous ideologies that are ranged against him. He cannot say everything he thinks but he is no fool and understands exactly what is at stake.
But so, too, do his enemies. They understand what’s at stake and are waging a battle for the future. If Romney loses, it may be impossible to put the America we have known back together any time thereafter. If he wins, there is reason to believe that the future will not just be about fixing the economy but also about restoring the values that made America great. This is an election about philosophy and ideology even more than it is about policy. There is a new generation that is growing up and about to move through the institutions to replace the generation of the 1960s. That is where the struggle now is. It is partly about what to do, but it is more about what to believe. The American media know this. Mitt Romney knows this. And if you are following the American election, you should know this as well.
Steven Kates teaches economics at RMIT University. His most recent book is Free Market Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader