We’re in the midst of a great four-year national debate on the size and reach of government, the future of the welfare state, indeed, the nature of the social contract between citizen and state. The distinctive visions of the two parties — social-democratic vs. limited-government — have underlain every debate on every issue since Barack Obama’s inauguration: the stimulus, the auto bailouts, health-care reform, financial regulation, deficit spending. Everything. The debt ceiling is but the latest focus of this fundamental divide.
Yep. Opinionist Charles Krauthammer and journalistic analyst Gerald Seib see things exactly the same way. The current debate is about different notions of how economic and political life ought to be lived. And the issue can only be settled by an election.
To everything else they and we have said about this, we'll add one more element. Much depends on whether Americans will own up to their individual double-mindedness about such matters. To wit: most citizens are insistent that the government both (a) get off their back; and (b) give them increasing entitlements. Hence, both (a) Tea Party conservatives who want the budget balanced yesterday without touching Social Security and Medicare; (b) Subaru socialists who want the price to be paid by the rich, who happen to be just beyond the economic ambitions that they have for their offspring.
In our mind, we imagine a political Don Corleone who will do to Our Republic what that celebrated character did to Johnny Fontane: