Saturday, September 03, 2011

Exporting Exceptionalism

 Shelby Steele, author and thinker, wrote an excellent column for the Wall Street Journal published Sept 1 2011. It's hard to argue with anything Steele posits in this piece. The premise that the President's anti-exceptionalist demeanor summed up in this paragraph is that America comes about it's status illegitimately:

there is something more than inexperience or lack of character that defines this presidency: Mr. Obama came of age in a bubble of post-'60s liberalism that conditioned him to be an adversary of American exceptionalism. In this liberalism America's exceptional status in the world follows from a bargain with the devil—an indulgence in militarism, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and environmental disregard as the means to a broad economic, military, and even cultural supremacy in the world. And therefore America's greatness is as much the fruit of evil as of a devotion to freedom.

This passage as well as many others in Steele's article is dead on. But I think ultimately pinning the decline of the U.S. power and exceptionalism on this brand of liberalism is not the whole story. Capitalists and capitalism live by the tenet - grow or die. It was inevitable that the world so devastated by war and poverty would not remain so. Capitalists made sure of it

Expanding beyond our borders the market based system was instrumental in the demise of creeping communism. Specific laws helped American brands expand overseas because it was good for capitalism and for the West's battle against Soviet expansionism. Once the Cold War was over and bans on exporting American technology were lifted the race was on.

Some would say, and even I feel it sometimes that American based multi-nationals are disloyal and even treasonous in the way they export American jobs that literally shutter up entire towns across the country. Is it really their duty to maintain expensive operations just because they are American based? Not necessarily. What we find is that the very same laws (tax laws especially) used to great extent to promote market systems during the Cold War now stymie expansion and growth in America by our own companies. It makes it difficult for profits made overseas to be repatriated into the domestic economy. As well, free trade agreements pushed by the capitalists when coupled with intransigent labor unions also contribute to the outflow of jobs and wealth.

We can say that liberal legislatures create legislation that disfavors business domestically, true enough, but, Republicans have not once championed turning this around when they held the power. Can you say campaign contributions? In many respects multi-nationals like the rules the way they are. With business expanding in other countries they have yet to really feel the pinch of the loss of America's middle class. Until now that is.

I think it's imperative Obama be a one termer. His brand of Americanism is dangerous to the world, but Republicans and American mega corporations have failed in every way imaginable as well. It takes two to tango. It's time one party does what needs to be done to expand our own economy again. The debt and deficit at all levels of government will take care of itself when American economic power is asserted once again. We need leaders and statesmen who, one, believe in American exceptionalism (not today's Democrats, unfortunately) and two, will do what's best for America and not their own campaign war chests. Fat chance...