...Beck's believers and the tea party folks are raising hopes and expectations.The reality is that decades of profligate spending and borrowing to pay for unsustainable programs has finally left us in a situation where extrication will be extremely problematic.
But can they succeed?
"We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want," said Palin, in one of the direct challenges to Obama. "We must restore America."
But can we restore America, or is the old America gone forever?
Consider the issue that unites all on the Mall on Saturday -- the need for the U.S. government to cut spending, to balance its budget and not to shove an immense burden of debt on our children.
Like last year, we are running a deficit of $1.4 trillion, almost 10 percent of the entire economy. With housing starts and housing sales plunging, jobless claims rising, the stock market sinking and economic growth slowing to a crawl, we will face a new deficit equally large in the fiscal year beginning in October.
Where are the victorious tea party Republicans going to cut?
According to USA Today, 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, and perhaps an equal number on Medicare and Social Security. Which of these three will tea party Republicans cut, when Republicans are already denying Democratic charges that they plan to raise the retirement age for Social Security?
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has a 600-page plan to reform Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the tax code, the work of a conscientious conservative. But only one in 16 House Republicans has signed on as co-sponsor.
Are Republicans going to go after other entitlements -- veterans benefits, earned income tax credits, food stamps -- which now go to 41 million Americans, or unemployment benefits that run for 99 weeks?
With the racial achievement gap on test scores returning, will the GOP abolish No Child Left Behind or slash federal aid to education?
I don't give two hoots who's in charge, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid are coming. They have to. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Republicans are going to be able to rescue those programs by repealing Obamacare. Even if they are successful in repealing Obamacare, those programs are going to be cut. There is no choice. There is simply not enough money. Those of us who work with Medicare and Medicaid patients are already seeing the cuts. You would not believe some of what is happening if you didn't see it with your own eyes.
Personally, it wouldn't bother me if those two programs were phased out. They're grossly unconstitutional. But when the Republicans, in their turn, fail to rescue them, do you think a general public, grossly unaware of what the Constitution actually says, poorly educated in basic economics, and raised to expect superlative medical care in their old age, won't turn around and punish Republicans at the ballot box?
Barring a major revival, we are headed downhill on a bobsled. Big Republican wins in November aren't going to change that.