One normally expects to see paeans to one-party rule and dictatorships in fringe publications sponsored by International ANSWER or World Can’t Wait. Usually, the New York Times offers those sentiments in more subtle terms than it does in today’s Thomas Friedman column. Friedman extols the Chinese form of government while deriding the fact that political opposition keeps Obama from imposing the policies Friedman likes:
Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.
Oh, those enlightened Chinese government officials! When they’re not executing people to harvest their organs, and when they’re not forcing women to have abortions to satisfy their one-child policy, and when they’re not tossing people in prison for political dissent, they have a great energy policy … even though they reject Kyoto and any attempt to hamstring themselves on economically-suicidal cap-and-trade policies.
Actually, considering Friedman’s column, perhaps rounding up the opposition is a net plus for the Chinese in his eyes.
Even putting aside Friedman’s longing for fascism (as long as it supports his policies), Friedman’s entire premise is suspect. We haven’t enacted government-run health care precisely because we’re not a “one-party democracy.” Constituents have made their opposition plain to it across the nation, and Democrats understand that Republicans will replace many of their colleagues if they support ObamaCare. Obama’s approval numbers have dropped precipitously as well, because people dissent from the orthodoxy of the Democratic elites. That’s what has Friedman pining for Beijing.
Saying “no” to very bad ideas is a perfectly legitimate response, especially when the policies impose government control over private industry to the extent Barack Obama and his radical Congress desire. The opposition has no responsibility to engage on horrible ideas, although contra Friedman, the Republicans have already offered an alternative to ObamaCare, which Henry Waxman refuses to consider. Saying “no” to rapid expansion of government power is the rational response to radical policies.
What’s next for the New York Times? A tribute to Benito Mussolini and running the trains on time as a fair exchange for personal and political liberty? (via The Corner, which has been savaging Friedman all day)