Part I: The road to hell is paved with government intentions
Crisis in America
The current crisis did not begin with President Donald J. Trump, contrary to the vain repetitions of the #NeverTrump crowd. The Left’s woes didn’t begin with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The political turmoil on both the Left and Right started a couple election cycles back with Bill Clinton and Chuck Schumer.
What began with government good intentions and notions of correcting injustice caused one short-term fiscal calamity and continues as a rolling cultural catastrophe.
Twenty-five years ago, the premise was this: Minorities were being discriminated against when trying to buy homes. Black people, single women, and other marginalized folks were being blocked from access to credit to buy homes and therefore being deprived a piece of the American Dream.
Was this true? Maybe. But if it was true, the cure government invented to cure the disease was worse than the disease, a cure which very nearly killed the American body, soul and spirit.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) , the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and representing not only his state but also Wall Street, pushed rules onto lenders forcing them to liberalize their lending practices. He was joined in his folly by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).
Together, the Democrats, through threats and rules, encouraged bankers to start giving loans to anyone and everyone.
Bankers understood the consequences if they did not give loans to “red-lined areas” — places on the map that were poor minority and disadvantaged areas. Where Democrats saw racism, bankers saw high-risk loans that people wouldn’t be able to afford to pay back.
The bigger risk to bankers, though, was to be accused of being bigots and racists. So they gave loans to bad risks. Lots of them. Then they bundled these subprime loans and sold them. They built a financial house of cards. Low interest rates and loose lending standards encouraged middle-class folks to buy investment properties.
All these TV shows about flipping and making money off of rehabbed houses? That all started in the late 1990s, the result of hundreds of thousands of homeowner defaults and foreclosures.
The real estate bubble that burst late in George W. Bush’s tenure didn’t just happen. It was a creation of a highly questionable premise of racial injustice, followed by Democrat regulatory policy and rhetoric that encouraged irresponsible lending and the making of loans that people couldn’t afford to repay. Loans that the government backed and that put taxpayers on the hook were nearly all defaulted and went into foreclosure.
When this spun confection imploded, much like cotton candy on a hot day, America’s financial system nearly collapsed. Individuals and then the institutions that funded them defaulted on their loans. There was not enough money flowing through the system. Choked of capital, the entire engine very nearly seized.
The Big Bank Bailout
It all started with a false Democrat Party premise.
What does that have to do with America nearly 14 years after the crash and half a generation since this debacle started?
In a word: Everything.
Republicans were demoralized. George W. Bush’s tenure ended in crisis and disappointment. The Democrats in charge of Congress were running the country into the ground. Americans lost their homes.
As the housing market crashed, even responsible people found themselves upside down in houses they couldn’t sell and couldn’t afford as the resulting recession left them downsized. Their life savings were wiped out.
Big businesses like General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler and “too big to fail” banks like J.P. Morgan-Chase were bailed out with taxpayer money. Small businesses suddenly had no access to capital due to egregiously tightened lending requirements. They quickly failed.
In the wake of the mortgage mess, citizens groups started to gather. On the Republican side, the Rebuild the Party movement which began during Bush’s tenure morphed into the Tea Party Movement, catalyzed by a 2009 rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli. Their motto: Taxed Enough Already. Their gestalt? Leave us alone. Stop bailing out banks. Stop bailing out irresponsible home buyers.
About one-third of the Tea Party were libertarian types who just had all their suspicions about government incompetence confirmed. Their hero was Ron Paul. The rest were populist types who worried about their Social Security and jobs and hated the bailouts for big businesses, banks, and greedy home buyers while the average guy lost his job and/or had to pay for the bailouts.
Tea Partiers weren’t socially conservative necessarily. Rhetorical leaders like Andrew Breitbart introduced the concept that politics was downstream from culture — that political preferences and expectations of government come as a result lifestyles, values and morals come before.
Tea Party types started making the connection between the cultural ideas put forth in education and entertainment that created policy. Thus, many of these folks also became interested in school choice, as well as, unfortunately, stupid policies like No Child Left Behind.
On the Democrat side, Occupy Wall Street bloomed on the streets of New York. Unlike the Tea Party, which started out as an organic movement and slowly became organized and co-opted by more professional activist D.C.-based institutions, Occupy started as a Soros AstroTurf movement that drew in the dregs of society.
That movement, over time, radicalized into groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. All the snazzy, militaristic equipment of the Black Block members of these groups is funded. It didn’t “just happen.”
Occupy, though claiming to be a loving Marxist organization, suffered with crime against its own members. Women were raped in the encampment and didn’t want to report the crimes for fear of harming the causes. Andrew Breitbart famously yelled at a bunch of Occupy activists, “Stop raping women!”
Since 2007, this unrest has undergirded political reality. The Tea Party movement, far from being toothless, started putting up candidates. Barack Obama won in 2008. It was to be the last Democrat triumph for a while. In 2010, the first Tea Party wave crashed into Washington, D.C. Elites on both sides of the aisle were united in their loathing of these upstarts.
In 2012, Obama won, but so did a bunch of Tea Party senators, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, and Rand Paul. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the leadership did their best to marginalize them, depriving the Tea Party Movement of power and a place at the table.
In the intervening years, Republicans and the commentariat have sneered at the Tea Party’s lack of effectiveness even as the Tea Party gave Republicans leadership in both the House and Senate. They put the fiscally concerned and conservative Tea Party group in the House in a corner.
In response, these House members would rebel and tank legislation. The Republican Party leadership claimed to be for fiscal responsibility, but didn’t govern that way. Tea Party members sought to represent those who voted them into office.
It’s worth noting the media’s actions at the time. The Tea Party leaders were often women and, in many cases, minority women. These leaders were acutely aware of how the media would portray a bunch of people protesting Obama and the bank bailouts and then Obamacare, which they rightly identified as a huge tax increase on the middle class.
Tea Partiers were rigorous about booting the cranks and imposters with racist signs, violent demonstrations and other actions that distracted from the focus of lower taxes and less government. They meticulously cleaned up after themselves. They protested peacefully.
Despite that effort to be seen as clean, peaceful and reasonable, the media portrayed them as racist and evil. The Republican establishment didn’t mind as they didn’t much like the activists either.
Comes another presidential election, war hero and political moderate John McCain was portrayed as far-right. The McCain campaign, led by former Bushies who are almost all now Democrats, refused to let Sarah Palin campaign in Michigan. She rightly saw the frustration within union ranks.
She was sunny, populist, beautiful, and spoke the language the working class understood. She was and is one of the most naturally gifted politicians America has seen, and the McCain camp muzzled her. Her instincts were right, though.
Eight years before Donald Trump took Michigan and stunned Democrats, Sarah Palin knew the Rust Belt could be Republican.
Four years later, the Republican establishment crowned Mitt Romney king. He was the wrong man at the wrong time. As the economy stagnated, the last guy America wanted was The Boss as president. The middle and working class was decimated by investment capital guys like Romney.
Mitt Romney was — and still is — the caricature of the manager everyone hates. Another political moderate, the media treated him like he was a fascist. Big bird, binders full of women, and high school haircuts characterized the media portrayal of Mitt Romney, a loyal family man and decent guy.
Nonetheless, populist conservatives were not going to be denied. The presidential election made 2016 a halcyon year for their efforts.
Coming soon: Part II of "The road to hell is paved with government intentions"