The victory of Jeff Bell in the Republican primary in New Jersey sets up what could be one of the great Senate races of the generation. And let us be among the first to endorse the veteran of the long drive for political and economic liberty that came together in the 1970s and ignited what became the Reagan revolution. Mr. Bell will face Senator Booker, a Rhodes Scholar turned Democratic Party glad-hander who has been, since winning a special election last year, a disappointment even to his original backers.
Not that he’ll be easy to beat, as the New York Post pointed out; he’s running in a blue state where the seat that will be filled in November has long been held by a Democrat — indeed, since Mr. Bell defeated the moderate Republican, Clifford Case, in the Republican primary in 1978 only to lose the general election to Bill Bradley. The significance of that race was Mr. Bell’s role in crafting and honing the free market, supply-side arguments that would, two years later, later be brought to triumph by Ronald Reagan.
The electrifying thing about Mr. Bell’s candidacy is his nigh singular appreciation for the issue of monetary reform. Better than any candidate we can think of, he grasps the fact that fiat money — dollars that are pure scrip, backed with nothing and convertible by law into nothing but other dollars — is at the root of the long travail of recession or near-recession that has consumed the Obama presidency. Our politics needs a tribune for the idea of sound money, a tribune who can illuminate this issue for the voters.
Can Mr. Bell prevail in November? William Kristol, in a cable endorsing Mr. Bell within moments of the primary victory, noted that Mr. Booker starts out way ahead. But he noted that Mr. Bell is going to run as both an intelligent and aggressive “full-spectrum conservative” who emphasizes a “pro-growth, pro-Main Street agenda, with a focus on monetary policy, in particular a return to the gold standard” — a message sure to “bewilder the elites.” But not the middle class voters in New Jersey.
They understand that their dollars are not what they used to be. They understand the travail of the past six years. The fact is that the explosion in inequality everyone is talking about, this began to show up on the charts in the mid-1970s, when we were launched into the age of fiat money. So did the sharp rise in unemployment, which averaged 4.7% years between the end of World War II and 1970. Then, come fiat money, unemployment started soaring. So did bankruptcies.
The Great Recession that we’re still feeling saw the value of our fiat dollars collapse, to, at the moment, less than a 1,200th of an ounce of gold. We haven’t had a mainstream Republican politician take this issue to the hustings as the central campaign theme, though there are some far-sighted Republicans who plainly get it (Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Paul Ryan, among them). Governor Romney had a platform plank on monetary reform but failed to make it an issue. All the greater the importance of Mr. Bell’s candidacy in New Jersey. It has the potential to make history.