I count this as progress (although in fairness, Adam C. has always faithfully represented the libertarian flank at RS):
Analysis of these trends lead me to one conclusion: the Republicans must return to policies that unite conservative and moderates as Reagan did and the 1994 Revolution did. These are usually good governance, small government efforts that win over people who are suspect about the intentions of government. Republican leadership can show a commitment to those ideals by selecting Pence/Shadegg to leadership and by coming out with a bold reform agenda addressing the Congressional side of lobbying/K Street issues. Instead of attacking lobbyists, Republicans should be attacking Congressmen and limit their abilities to distribute money in shadowy earmarks. Republicans lost the mantle of good governance and they must win it back to win over centrist voters.
And not only will it win back centrist voters, but good governance also has the benefit of being, umm, the right thing to dol. I wonder how long it is before this Adam is smacked down and told the reason we lost is because we were not socially conservative enough?
We need to “return to good governance.” But the Democrats are still worse!
I agree. I think we need a benevolent king.
I think that going after corruption is a great idea. Republicans attacking Congressmen strikes me as a weak strategy, however; the amount of money poured into earmarks almost doubled in the ten years after Republicans took charge of Congress, and of course there’s a large disparity on average between money spent in Republican versus Democratic Congressional districts. Right now, I’d put the success of this kind of effort in the same class as Republican attacks on mistress strangling–a fine idea, but a bit late and coming from a less-than-credible source.
John: I think you need to fix the link. There’s an apostrophe at the end instead of a slash.
The Other Steve
How exactly are the Republicans going to reform themselves?
This reminds me of the Chevrolet commercials a few years ago when they said “Look, we admit for the past 20 years we’ve sucked. We didn’t understand that people wanted quality. But trust us, we’re better now. Buy Chevrolet!”
They sort of failed to convince.
It’s rather sad that *that* counts as progress for Redstate.
Still six years behind the rest of the world.
So, when he says “attacking Congress”, that just means attacking Democrats, right?
So, basically, he wants to attack the Dems while maintaining good relations with lobbyists.
Which doesn’t seem like progress to me.
Salty Party Snax
I always have to laugh when I read about some Republican knucklehead invoking their mythological connection to small government and fiscal responsibility. Because everytime these chumps get their hands on the public purse in the name of these fine ideals they end up borrowing and spending like there is no tomorrow.
Clue to the numbnuts at Red Ass – Reagan ran up the national bill to stratospheric levels, and 1994 led to Georgie Bush and the biggest headcount and debt explosion in Washington ever.
ACTUALLY! it’s to court Rightist bucchanen votes.
The modern right aren’t fans of isolationist assholes like PAT!
a “concervative” commentator is the LOSINGEST “republican” of all time?
What does tim think of Dick Morris being a “Liberal” commentator?
They are both LIES
“they aren’t centrists, so they are liars” but you each pick your own “centrist” to disagree with.
Thats just silly.
Why is there any need to attack them? Ending the practice of playing Drop Trou, Grab Ankles with them would be a great start.
Adam’s a good guy. He’s been there a long time, I doubt he’ll get hammered for this piece.
My question is this: why do conservatives equate good governance with less governance?
PJ O’Rourke answer: “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”
Libertarian answer: Because less governance means less taxes, which means more money for me, which is goooood.
Serious answer: Some conservatives think of it as a slippery slope towards too much government control over personal or business behavior. Some believe (Radley Balko is one) that it’s just “not the government’s job to protect you” (i.e. smoking bans).
I personally think it’s just because Republicans are just ideologically wedded to that idea as a way to distinguishe themselves from modern Democrats (not the caricature you see in the Republican campaign literature, but actual fiscally prudent pragmatic Democrats). It’s a good talking point.
If the government can successfully offer better solutions for some things (not even everything, just some things), then why support Republicans? Why not vote for the party that would offer the best solution to the problem – government, private sector, mixture?
Well, as usual, this meme dates back years: a refelexive oppostion to “activist” government has been, in America, anyway, a hallmarl of right-wing “philosophy” since the New Deal Era. And, like most right-wing ideas, it has a dual meaning/dual purpose: divided as is typical, into economic and social meanings. In a nutshell:
A) Economic: “Less government” = Less taxes=more money for me.
B) Social: “Less government”= less restriction on who I can discriminate against.
A) “I got mine, so screw you!”
B) “White is right”
I would also add “less regulations” to what less government means. Less regulations = less restrictions on what I can do to make money. Environmental restrictions, labor laws, zoning regulations, OSHA, the SEC (part of the new deal, for those that don’t remember) – all opposed to some degree by conservatives.
I would add that the supposed stance “less restrictions, less intrusion” sounds good, but never applies to areas where “conservatives” have come to stand for “more restrictions and more intrusion” (like your bedroom, or drug laws, or end-of-life decisions). I also personally think “less intrusion”, while a worthy goal, needs to be balanced because there’s a point where if no one can “intrude”, you’re free to hurt others in a way that we as a society have decided aren’t acceptable (i.e. we can intrude when you are abusing your children, or building a bomb-making facility on your property).
I will be fair and say that conservatives, in a healthy political climate, act as a “solid counterweight” against people who reflexively think businesses are evil or automatically want to grant more power to the government. Usually on the left, but a “proper” conservative or Libertarian would equally oppose power grabs like those we’re seeing from Bush or socially-rightward moralistic laws from those on the right.
You could call a conservative like John Cole a “government skeptic” – which is a position I respect. Government is a 800-lb. gorilla, and before it goes trudging off, we should have considered all the pros and cons carefully.
Since I’m pragmatic about government and a bit of a skeptic (in general) myself, I’m happy to have an honest debate about which “things” the government should start/stop/continue doing. But it seems conservatives these days (even libertarians) always start from “government is the problem” or some sort of platonic ideal of what the “government’s job” is. So it’s pretty hard to have that debate honestly.
The healthcare debate is a classic example of this. Conservatives violently oppose nationalized healthcare, despite all the evidence that it’s better in just about every way and solves nearly all the problems we have with our current system – for far less money (who couldn’t love that) than we spend now. An honest debate would admit these facts or present reasons why it wouldn’t work here (you’d have to overcome the examples of the VA and Medicare). But it appears many conservatives are no longer interested in honest debate.
It’s just “government bad, private sector good”, “more government bad, less government good”, “more taxes bad, less taxes good”.
And of course the sentiment goes back to American origins: “That government is best which governs least.” I’m terrible with history, but I imagine Paine was thinking of a society in which the excesses of the 18th century governments he was familiar with would be eliminated. Consider the Bill of Rights, which we now take for granted.
The Other Steve
You guys don’t get “less government”.
I had a conservative jackass argue with me for an hour back in 2004 that banning gay marriage meant less government.
When the republicans say “less government” they mean something entirely different than what they say.
Right; I was forgetting that East German-level immigration control is also a part of less government.
I’m fully aware of this, which is why I called it a talking point. I think of the Republican phrases “less government”, “states rights” and “judicial activism” as different prongs in their rhetorical jihad on language. All three mean exactly whatever they want them to mean, and can be discarded whenever necessary. I’d add phrases like “originalism”, “property rights”, “sound science” (as used by Republicans) as rhetorical tricks used to avoid discussing their real agenda.
This is precisely why I think the word “conservative”, having been so closely linked to “Republican” for the last 50 years, either means “whatever Republicans do” or is so malleable as to have no useful form at all. If literally everything that results after Republicans get elected can be discarded as “not real conservativism”, then there are no conservatives. If elected Libertarians and pundits chronically support restrictions on social issues, then libertarianism isn’t what it claims it is.
This is also why I think of Democrats as the more “honest” party. At least fundamentally Democrats don’t claim to stand for empty notions like this. Sure, Democrats don’t like it if a judge rules against some initiative, but they don’t call it “activism” – they say “bad ruling” or something else that acknowledges the system works. Even the Republican slams against Democrats are telling. For example “tax and spend” is at least a fiscally coherent policy, and better than “borrow and spend” or “cut taxes and spend”.
Reagan talked a good game about good governance, etc. As I recall, and perhaps I’m biased, there were quite a few indictments and a few convictions of Reagan admin. officials. I also recall that during his second term, Reagan wasn’t really fully engaged in the work of the presidency, perhaps due to an onset of some age-related disease.
… not to mention the profligate deficit spending that sent us into s serious near-crisis with national debt.