For years, high school civics books have portrayed our political choices as ranging from socialism on the left to fascism on the right. These textbooks represent the statists' wet dream -- the reframing of political discussion such that all possible outcomes are defined as rigid government control of individual lives. The only difference is who is in charge, and the path they took to get there.
Think I am exaggerating? Here's an example:
The left hate George Bush. Fine. I have my own problems with the man. Over the last few years, the left has cast about for a person to rally around as a counterpoint to Bush. Some latched on the the French leadership, some to Saddam Hussein, some even recently to George Gallway. I think you can see the problem here, and the mistake Michael Moore made. Forcing voters to choose between Saddam Hussein and George Bush is practically begging them to vote Republican.
After the last election, I had hoped that the left had gotten wiser. I guess not. Apparently the "progressive" community is rallying around Hugo Chavez as their next model leader:
Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a
president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to
benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call
him "the Anti-Bush."...
Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does,
Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor
in Venezuela. A country with so much oil wealth shouldn't have 60 percent of its
people living in poverty, earning less than $2 per day. With a mass movement
behind him, Chavez is confronting poverty in Venezuela. That's why large
majorities have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And why the
Bush administration supported an attempted military coup in 2002 that sought to
And this is the group that calls themselves "reality-based"? Does anyone really believe that poverty results solely from not handing oil revenue to the poor? The US doesn't do this (well, except in Alaska), yet despite this our poor in this country are wealthier than the middle class in Venezuela, and its because we have a stable government that protects property rights and individual freedoms and provides a stable environment for investment. Prosperity comes from building a healthy and growing economy, not looting a particular industry. (By the way, I am sure that the previous regime was looting the oil industry as well, so I am certainly not defending them.)
However, this point is worth repeating: Progressives consider Venezuela to have a better policy for helping the poor than the US, but the poorest 20% in the US still make more money and live better and longer than at least 80% of Venezuelans. A person in the middle of the "poor" quintile in the US would be upper middle class in Venezuela. And I will bet anyone that after 10 years of Chavez rule, this will be more, not less, true.
Chavez is a totalitarian thug. Human Rights Watch has plenty to say about his miserable record of trashing freedoms. In particular, you can compare the supreme court shenanigans of the "anti-Bush" with ridiculously mild controversy in this country (at least by comparison) over judicial nominations. More background on Chavez here.
So there you are. We are given the choice of Bush or Chavez. Statism or statism. Thanks a lot.