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KUHNER: Middle America revolts
The radical center is poised to take back the country
America is in the midst of a second revolution. The November elections threaten to sweep away the Democrats' control of Congress and Republicans into the dustbin of history.
Traditionally, the term "radical" has been associated with the ideological extremes of the left or right. Yet a new phenomenon has emerged: the rise of the Middle American radical. The political center is angry, alienated and dangerously disconnected from our ruling intelligentsia.
This is why Democrats are poised to suffer historic losses on Election Day. They have lost Middle America. It is not just the energized Tea Party movement that threatens their grip on power. They have lost independents, the pivotal, massive bloc of voters who share no partisan allegiances. Independents have turned decisively against President Obama and the tax-and-spend Pelosi-Reid Democrats.
These are the same voters who rejected the corrupt Republicans in 2006 and gave the presidency to Mr. Obama in 2008. They will vote for the GOP this year in protest against Democratic misrule and incompetence, but they are volatile and unpredictable.
The deep-seated political rebellion is fueled by disgust for Washington. For decades, both major parties have spent recklessly. Government has ballooned. Entitlements are out of control. The unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are over $100 trillion - an unimaginable sum that no nation can pay. The national debt is skyrocketing. Trillion-dollar budget deficits threaten to erode our prosperity and economic growth. The welfare state is slowly bankrupting America.
The country rightly senses that Washington is not only dysfunctional. It is broken. It is no longer a sleepy city with colorful politicians who debate the meaning and stewardship of the republic. Rather, it has become an imperial city-state, the seat of a transnational socialist empire swollen with lobbyists, bureaucrats, con artists and special interests. We no longer have citizen legislators but rulers. Power trumps patriotism. The Founding Fathers must be turning in their graves.
Mr. Obama's presidency marks the final nail in traditional America's coffin. Before being elected, he vowed to "change this country." It is one of the few campaign promises he has kept. Mr. Obama is a post-national leftist. He seeks to remake the United States in Europe's progressive image. He is erecting a Franco-German interventionist state characterized by a bloated public sector, a cradle-to-grave welfare system and high taxes.
The linchpin of his revolution was Obamacare. It established an administrative command-and-control health care economy. Socialized medicine destroys individual freedom and personal responsibility. It is the poisoned chalice of free-market societies - offering the illusion that economic dynamism can be fused with social security. Government now controls - and rations - every key medical decision a citizen makes, effectively rendering him a ward of the state. Public health care does more than impose a huge and expensive entitlement burden. It fundamentally alters the relationship between individuals and the government, turning freeborn citizens into servile, dependent subjects.
The corrosive effects of welfare-state liberalism can be seen in Europe, the very model Mr. Obama wants to emulate. Greece, the cradle of Western democracy, is bankrupt. It is a vassal of Brussels and Berlin, clinging to bailouts to keep its economy - and lavish social programs - afloat. France, the birthplace of the Enlightenment, is boiling over. Mass protests have shut down the country. French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. This is in a country where the average citizen lives to the age of 81. Polls show more than 70 percent of the French electorate supports the strikers. Mr. Sarkozy insists that France's public pension system is going bankrupt. Yet, even his modest reform is too much for most Frenchmen. The protests in France are a sign not of a vibrant democracy, but of a dying civilization. The French are behaving like addicts - they cannot wean themselves off the heroin of state subsidies and unaffordable entitlements.
Middle Americans do not want their nation to follow Europe's path to economic doom and national destruction. They are giving the GOP one last chance to be the party of small government, fiscal responsibility and nationalism. Republicans are counting on the anti-incumbent, anti-Obama sentiment to sweep them back into power.
The GOP, however, must be more than "the party of no." Republicans should look not to 1994 but 1894 - another landslide midterm election in which Republicans picked up huge numbers of seats during a severe economic recession. The GOP ran on low taxes, protectionism, sound money and balanced budgets. With William McKinley's election in 1896, the Republicans dominated U.S. politics for nearly four decades. They were the party of Middle America.
If the GOP is to survive, it must become that party once again. This means Republicans must defund and - eventually - repeal Obamacare. It means the GOP also must slash government spending and taxes, reform entitlements, secure the border, make English the country's official language and embrace high tariffs and an end to free trade. Otherwise, the very same forces now propelling Republicans - Tea Partiers, Reagan Democrats, Perotistas and independents - will abandon them and search for a third-party alternative.
Middle American radicals want their country back - with or without the GOP. Republicans beware.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist for The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.
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