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October, 2000

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The Party of Stalin

Ahh, 1994. The smell of revolution was in the air. Newt Gingrich and his cronies were going to remake the world and the free market would be their guide. After all, government could do nothing right. And there was no greater revolutionary than Minnesota's new Senator, Rod Grams.

Fast forward to 2000. Newt is long gone, Republicans don't bring up his name or policies, and Grams (along with the GOP Presidential candidate G.W. Bush) argue that the Administration's biggest failure is the lack of an energy policy. They ask for, no, they DEMAND that the Administration begin regulating how the nation obtains, refines, and consumes oil.

These are reversals worthy of a gold medal in ideological gymnastics. From free-marketeers to Stalinist apparatchiks in one swift price shock. Anyone for a five year plan? Apparently, the benefits of regulation can only be confirmed when people feel the power of the dark side [cue Darth Vader breathing] of the free market. Ask Californians about market pricing for electricity and how their electric bills have changed.

So the next time you hear Bush or Grams claiming that Democrats "trust the government" more than people, remember that, like those balanced budget promises, Republicans in 2000 don't really mean it.



Michael Lewis
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