And the convergence of an economic crisis and complete Democratic control of Washington should alarm even those conservatives eager to wash their hands of the GOP. The best reason for even the most disaffected right-winger to root for a McCain victory is simple: To the extent that much of the progressive agenda is a program in search of a crisis to justify its implementation, an election that delivers a liberal candidate who’s adored by the media to White House, gives him huge majorities in both houses of Congress, and presents him with a worldwide state of emergency in which to govern, has the potential to be not just another loss for conservatives, but a once-in-a-generation defeat.
We know from past history that economic crises are a major opportunity for expansion of government power. Robert Higgs’ book Crisis and Leviathan is a good discussion of the basic dynamics. We also know that divided government tends to impede the growth of the state, while united government facilitates it. The combination of united government and a major economic crisis is likely to lead to a great expansion of government, just as it did on several previous occasions such as the 1930s. It only remains to add that Obama – and most of the rest of the Democratic Party – tend to be very pro-government ideologically. As far as I can tell, Obama proposes major expansions of government regulation and spending on almost every big domestic issue, and doesn’t propose to retract government in any significant way, except on military intervention in Iraq. Obama’s record in the Senate (where he was the 10th most liberal senator) and in the Illinois state legislature (where he was more liberal than 73% of his fellow Democrats) shows him to be a big government liberal, not a relative moderate like Bill Clinton during his presidency.
The best news all week is this report of Obama’s decision “to play it safe.” NFL fans know what this means: A hair raising close that can go against the team that plays against the deep threat only.
If you have any doubt about the volatility of presidential elections, be sure to read E.J. Dionne’s piece on the subject from 1988, and the background on the 1992 British elections in which John Major was expected to lose, but in fact stayed Prime Minister. See: The Shy Tory Factor for interesting background.