Monday, June 23, 2014

Activism As The Only Acceptable Position?

NOTE: These essays were reproduced from my now defunct blog "Random Notes" as I mentioned them in my essay "A Question of Perspective", but did not copy them. Now that they are available, I shall add links to that essay.

I have asked this before, but what precisely do nominal conservatives mean when they argue that the right cannot "just be against things" and must "be FOR something"? Or when they argue that "tax cuts are not enough"? Do they truly believe that the right is not "for" anything and that our whole agenda is tax cuts? Or are they instead proposing that the right must adopt a big government position?

I am afraid that last is the truth. As I worried before, it seems that the Obama victory, far from pushing the Republican party right as some predicted, has pushed a lot of the centrist Republicans even farther to the left, dragging a large part of the Republican party with them. Though many thought they would "send a message" by refusing to support McCain, it seems the victory of the left has convinced many that fighting for individual rights, autonomy and crusading against expansive government is "too negative" and the onyl way the Republicans can succeed is to develop their own big government agenda.

However this is utterly absurd, at least from a logical position. For example, suppose you called a roofer. He takes a look at your roof and says "No, I don't need to do anything here. Those leaks are from bad pipes, the roof is fine." Would you curse him for being "too negative" and demand he "do something"? Or if you had a physical and your doctor told you you were in fine health and could even discontinue your high blood pressure medication, would you become angry that he is not doing enough and demand he perform some surgery and prescribe some medicines?

That is the position of those demanding the Republicans and the right in general be "FOR something". Government is a good tool for some things, and not for others. The right argues that the government already does too much, meddles in fields in which it should not, sot hey want to see it restored to its proper purpose. Yet somehow that is seen as "too negative", and the supposed solution is to find other things the government can do, regardless of whether or not it is appropriate. That is exactly like demanding your doctor operate, even if he finds nothing wrong with you.

Then again, as a political strategy, it may be valid. For too long the Republicans have failed to give voice to their beliefs. Enamored of the ability to buy votes, and with a tent far too big for a consistent ideology, they have long forgotten their small government agenda, paying at best some vague lip service while growing government. So the public has come to really believe that government is the first solution for every problem. Just look at the anger Phil Gramm evoked when arguing that the government was not the ultimate solution for every problem. If someone were to honestly announce that the government was not supposed to cure swine flu, your doctors should, or that the government should not straighten out your financial situation, you are, that man would be voted out of office in a moment. We have managed to convince ourselves that the state is some sort of magic genie, which we can simply ask for our fondest wish, and it will dleiver without cost. Or maybe with the cost borne by those "evil rich men".

Well, we have what we want now. Obama is that magic genie, and we are about to learn how much all those free gifts really cost, in the form of economic slow downs, inflation, and massive intrusion by the state. Maybe then we can finally start to reeducate ourselves, teach us once again the lesson we learned in 1980 and 1994, that government is not a genie, more like a spendthirft check forger with a copy of your check book, full of promises but rarely delivering. Even when it does deliver, the cost is usually greater than it would be had you done it yourself. 

Maybe once we learn those lessons again the Republican party will too, and will once more offer candidates who offer real reform and not some big government answer.

Originally posted in Random Notes on 2009/05/11.

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