The Tories shouldn’t be frightened by the Republican Right
The trenchant moral case for the free market being made in America’s election campaign should be heard in Britain, too.
9:00PM GMT 07 Jan 2012
What a difference four years can make. The last American presidential campaign began with a galaxy of star performers roaring away from the starting blocks. As Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama descended for personal visitations on the little town hall caucuses and trudged through the snow of New Hampshire to greet breakfasting truckers in their diners, even those cynical BBC correspondents who generally hold US politics at an ironic distance began to see the point of its commitment to grass-roots democracy.
The surprising rise of Rick Santorum in the first primary contest does not mean that the Republican party has found an unexpected star – which might have injected some excitement into the process. What it suggests, rather, is that the party faithful (and God knows, you have to be faithful to participate in the time-consuming caucus process) had so little enthusiasm for Romney, and were so desperate to make clear their desire for someone whom they saw as a genuine conservative, that they backed a man who is not plausible presidential material just to make a point. Not good.
Even Romney, who is Mr Moderate, is framing his challenge to Obama as a demand for a resurrection of the “merit society” as against the “entitlement society”. But it is the Republican Right (which regards Romney as a Left-wing wimp) that is putting forth the most trenchant case for free-market economics and framing it in unabashedly moral terms. The ideal of self-determination and personal independence is so fundamental to the conception of civic virtue in America that it scarcely requires any justification in political debate: all that is needed is to point out that a policy is detrimental to the ability of individuals to make their own way in life and to take responsibility for their actions, for it to become virtually indefensible.
Read the full story here: The Telegraph
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