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David Harsanyi
David Harsanyi
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In Denver, the End of Capitalism


DENVER — Well, it's no wonder that Democrats didn't want former President Bill Clinton to speak on the economy; some delegates might have had the temerity to ask: Hey, why did we experience all that prosperity in the '90s?

It certainly wasn't because of populism or isolationism or more government dependency or any of the hard-left economic policies being preached nightly by speakers at the Democratic National Convention.

No, it was capitalism — more of it, not less of it.

Naturally, every political convention features its share of demagoguery. But buried beneath the idealistic policy talk in Denver is an ugly detail: It's about coercion.

Those who had the inner fortitude to remain conscious through speeches by Bob Casey and Mark Warner surely were entertained by the theatrics of populist Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (a man who represents the possibility of America, a place where even a former cast member of "Hee-Haw" can become governor of Montana).

When Schweitzer claims "we must invest" in projects he likes, he means government will take it and invest it for you.

You see, you must .

Then Schweitzer claimed (in a half-truth) that Republican nominee John McCain voted "against" solar energy, biofuels and wind energy.

Which is weird because I could swear my neighbor has solar panels, so they must be legal. I've seen windmills. So I suppose that Schweitzer meant that McCain voted against some federal boondoggle for wind and/or solar energy.

And frankly, McCain hasn't voted against biofuels nearly enough. One need only look at the corn-based ethanol fiasco to understand how destructive it can be when politicians decide we "must" do something.

Sen. Hillary Clinton later chimed in that she would force energy companies to invest in the projects deemed worthy of the common good.

(Imagine if your business were told how it "must" invest its money.) She claimed Americans "give" windfall profits to oil companies. No, we don't "give" them anything; we pay them for a product.

But there were all the customary populist grievances. Corporations are "shipping" jobs out of the country. (Answer: Tax them more to ensure the entire corporation is shipped out.) China is stealing our money. (No trade with China?) We need to liberate ourselves from dependency on foreign energy. (Let's hope other nations do not wean themselves off their "dependence" to wheat, steel or Pixar movies.)

Democratic keynoters spoke of the economy as if it were a static pie that can be divided fairly. Profit, competition, growth, international trade and self-reliance are treated as corrupt thoughts. Financial success, well, it is a moral failing.

Take, if you will, Michelle Obama's speech. In relaying her life story, Obama conveniently failed to mention, in any detail, that she graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She also failed to mention her six-figure salary.

To do so would have undermined the contrived and condescending "Hey, we're losers, too!" mythology that's been cooked up in Denver. (I don't know about you, but I want someone far more successful than I am, or my neighbors are, running the country.)

Candidates, you see, are just like you. And with their munificent assistance, "we" — whether you want to be a part of "we" or not is irrelevant — can save the world. We can create jobs. Create new energy. We can guarantee fair wages. Health care. Child care.

Well, we can. But we could do it a lot better without Washington.

Bill Clinton once told us that the era of big government is over. This Democratic Party wants to make sure that era has its day once more.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of "Nanny State." Visit his Web site at To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




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