Posts Tagged small government
I have a few things to say in response to Mickey Edwards’ LA Times hit piece entitled “Reagan wouldn’t recognize this GOP.” I will not rehash the entirety of the tripe, but I will highlight a few areas with which I take exception. First, I will agree to the title of his Op-Ed. He is right in saying that Reagan would not recognize this GOP, but for the wrong reasons. Reagan would not recognize it because once again, the Republican party has left him. The GOP is but a homogenized version of what he eventually brought the party back to being. There are very few other statements in which Mr. Edwards and I are in agreement. The vast majority of Mr. Edwards’ dribble is just that, dribble.
On the premise that simple is best, many Republicans have reduced their operating philosophy to two essentials: First, government is bad (it’s “the problem”); second, big government is the worst and small government is better (although because government itself is bad, it may be assumed that small government is only marginally preferable)
This statement is a misrepresentation of conservative ideology at best, and pure fallacy at worst. The fact of the matter is conservatives do NOT believe that all government is bad. We do believe that bureaucracy is inherently flawed, and we do believe that over-reaching government is bad. Over-reaching government (intrusive) is the polar opposite of liberty and independence. As conservatism is based on the premise that liberty and independence are the driving forces of our society, it is fair to say that intrusive government (not all government) is “the problem.” There is a tendency to use the terms “big” and “small” when describing government, the terms are not used literally, as Mr. Edwards ascribes here. The literal quantity or size of government does not accurately encapsulate the conservative stance on “big government.” The size of government, as described by conservatives, is relative to the scope and power of government. Big government is one of extended and over-reaching scope and excessive weight and power over the people (i.e. intrusive). Conversely, small government would be one of a more limited scope, as described by the Constitution. We are not anarchists.
Limited government is not no government. And limited government is not “small” government. Simply building roads, maintaining a military, operating courts, delivering the mail and doing other things specifically mandated by the Constitution for America’s 300 million people make it impossible to keep government “small.” It is boundaries that protect freedom. Small governments can be oppressive, and large ones can diminish freedoms. It is the boundaries, not the numbers, that matter.
This statement is largely correct, and describes precisely what we mean by the term “small government.” Again, it is not a literal use of the term “small.” All forms of government can be oppressive. This is precisely why conservatives fight the initiatives and policies of the Democrats. Their policies expand the scope of government beyond the limits set forth by the Constitution. I will, however, say that typically the number of bureacracies is directly proportional to the scope of government power.
“In the present crisis,” referring specifically to the high taxes and high levels of federal spending that had marked the Carter administration, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He then went on to say: “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work.” Government, he said, “must provide opportunity.” He was not rejecting government, he was calling — as Barack Obama did Tuesday — for better management of government, for wiser decisions.
First and foremost comparing the late great Ronald Reagan with Barack Obama is like comparing Thomas Jefferson with Karl Marx. Obama could not possibly be more different from Reagan. They stand for completely different ideas. I would bet dollars to donuts that when Mr. Edwards arrives at the pearly gates, Reagan will be waiting with a few choice words for him.
Secondly, Reagan was also the man who said “As government expands, liberty contracts.” Which, as Mr. Edwards has seemingly forgotten, is one of the primary ideological stances of conservatism. There are myriads of choice Reagan quotes on the matter of expansive government and its inherent infringement of personal liberty, but quoting them here is unnecessary. I’m sure that Mr. Edwards, a man who spent a great deal of time with Reagan, could take his Alzheimer’s medication (there could be no other explanation for such egregious and apparent utter lack of memory), delve deep into his clearly vacuous mind, and remember Reagan’s words.
It is also interesting to note that Mr. Edwards, a self-described “true” conservative and Reaganite, was and is an Obama supporter. (If I recall correctly Mr. Edwards stated in a radio interview that he voted for Obama —If this is incorrect, please let me know).
With the nation in financial collapse, nothing is more imprudent — more antithetical to true conservatism — than to do nothing.
I agree that to do nothing would be imprudent and antithetical. However, nationalizing industry and turning over to the Secretary of the Treasury, hundreds of billions of tax dollars, with no afforded protections, no reasonable or responsible oversight, and to do so without discretion or direction is far more antithetical. Perhaps Mr. Edwards was napping when conservatives proposed their own answer for the economic fallout. One that was indeed founded on conservative principles and would undoubtedly stimulate the economy. One that was much akin to Reagan’s plan that DID work. Perhaps Mr. Edwards was still napping when the Democrat controlled Congress refused the plan outright, and further refused to incorporate many of its elements into the bailout.
The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
Mr. Edwards, is again correct with his first sentence, but all wet with the rest of it. The party is not the party of Reagan – as previously mentioned. However, it is also not the party of the “Conservatives in Good Standing” mentioned by name here. The reason for this is because the party does NOT listen to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or Newt Gingrich. They instead listened to the McCains and W. Bush’s of the party. The fact that Mr. Edwards lumps George Bush in with Rush alone reeks of uninformed RINO-ism. While, I will defend George Bush as a good man and better President than portrayed, he is NOT a leader in the conservative movement. George Bush is a social conservative with a fiscal policy that is antithetical to actual conservatism. He is a Republican, and thus he is OF the party in disrepute.
I would suggest to Mr. Edwards that he stop conflating conservatives and Republicans. They are NOT one and the same.
Last year’s presidential campaign, on the other hand, saw the emergence of a Republican Party that was anti-intellectual, nativist, populist (in populism’s worst sense).
What? Anti-intellectual? Nativist? Populist? Apparently, Mr. Edwards spent entirely too much time viewing MSNBC. Conservatives are NOT anti-intellectual. Simply because we do not subscribe ourselves to the doctrine of beltway elitists and ivy-league intelligentsia, does not me that we are anti-intellectual. We just disagree with Mr. Edwards’ definition of the word. We do not consider the likes of William Ayers to be an intellectual. I assume that nativist is in reference to our penchant for obeying the law, as in not supporting ILLEGAL immigration. The key word is illegal, our reason for being unsupportive is self-explanatory. I fail to see how populism falls on the heads of conservatives. The only recollection of populism that I have, is the rhetoric of the Democrat that was running for office.
Over the last several years, conservatives have turned themselves inside out: They have come to worship small government and have turned their backs on limited government. They have turned to a politics of exclusion, division and nastiness.
Once again, Mr. Edwards has made the mistake of confusing Republicans and conservatives. Republicans have, by and large, turned inside out and about faced on limited government. Conservatives have done no such thing. If Mr. Edwards bothered to listen to true conservatives like Bobby Jindal, Rush Limbaugh, Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford, John Boehner, etc, then he would know this. Instead he has apparently contented himself with the common media narrative that all Republicans are conservatives. As for exclusion, division and nastiness… I wonder if Mr. Edwards has been comatose for the last eight years and even completely forgotten the Reagan years. The left has been spewing vitriol, hate, lies, and divisive bile towards any and all Republicans and conservatives for decades. The very notion that the politics of class warfare and nastiness are the sole onus of conservatives is an egregiously erroneous statement. Some Republicans may ascribe to those politics, but by far or near the primary offenders are on the Left. Conservatives, simply do not do that.
And, watching, I suspect Ronald Reagan is smacking himself on the forehead, rolling his eyes and wondering who in the world these clowns are who want so desperately to wrap themselves in his cloak.
I suspect that while President Reagan is undoubtedly directing such wonder at a healthy portion of Republicans, he is directing it at Mr. Edwards as well.
As most of you that have been paying attention know, the talking heads in the media (and even some in the blogosphere) have been trying to advise the Republican party on how to return from exile. One of the most prevalent themes seems to be that of “updating” our “message”. Not so much the Republican message, but the Conservative message. They’re saying that our ideals are out-dated and out of touch with reality. They say that small government is but a thing of the past. It is simply no longer feasible. They have been all too quick to suggest a major overhaul of the movement. Essentially, they have suggested that we cut off the “religious right”, start thinking “big government”, and forget about abortion. Seems to me that that would make us Democrats.
There are those within our own party suggesting much of the same. To them I say this – we just ran your candidate… and lost horribly. There are also those among us that think that the solution is “RINO” hunting. While I do not entirely disagree with weeding out the Dem. Lites in the Congress… it isn’t the path out of the woods.
When it comes to messaging the primary difference between liberals and conservatives is this: Liberals’ message always changes with the times as it relies on crises to carry weight, whereas; the conservative message never changes and never ages. The only thing that changes with the conservative message is the mode of delivery. This, my friends, is where we failed. We have not carried our message to the people. We fell behind the times with technology and the school systems. This is what has to change. If we change our methods of delivery we will again succeed. We need to embrace the newer technologies and forms of communication. We need to utilize the social networking sites. We need to get our message out in the only medium where we can reach the younger generations unfettered and unfiltered – the Internet. If we succeed at this, we will again be given the opportunity to prove ourselves by the voters. Prove ourselves we will. Because the conservative way has been proven effective time and time again. It works. You see, the message of small government, personal responsibility, independence, opportunity, strong national security, and the free market is ALWAYS relevant. It is always going to remain relevant. The ideals behind the conservative movement are as solid as the bedrock that this nation rests on. In fact those ideals ARE the bedrock that this nation was built upon.
I, do not, for one moment believe that more government will ever be the best solution. Over-regulation of a free market is fool-hardy and self-defeating. It also brings us the economic troubles that we face today. Individualism will always progress a society further than group-think. Group-think mentality leads to politically correctness, death of entrepreneurialism, and creates sheep. Sheep are direction-less w/o their shepherd… and who really wants Capitol Hill leading us out of the mountains? Personal responsibility means that your life is yours to make of it what you will. Success is there for the making, but so is failure. YOUR choices will decide which happens. It means that you are responsible for yourself and too yourself. Independence means that you don’t need a nanny micro-managing your life. You make your own choices and carve your own path to your success or detriment. Opportunity is the ONLY thing that we are guaranteed in this country. Equal opportunity. This doesn’t mean you get a hand out. It means that you have the chance to succeed or fail. You can turn failure into success and vice versa. All that you have to do is take the opportunity. Our national security is key to survival. Without that security our economy and freedoms mean nothing… because we won’t have them for long. Anyone who thinks that kind words will keep our enemies at bay needs to have their head examined. It is naive to think that those that hate us will love us if we just use the right words. Typically if you have all of these things: independence, free market, national security, personal responsibility, then you have a smaller government. Why is that? Because inevitably as you let the government grow… you loose those things! The smaller the government – the less intrusive the government is. This breeds more opportunity, a stronger economy, better standard of living, and greater freedoms with more independence.
I think that most people in this country feel the same way.. We just haven’t had a messenger connect to them yet. We haven’t had any great examples. We have instead had what the media keeps telling us we need more of: Dem Lites. Here’s the rub – those talking heads in the media ARE dems. Of course they want us to go Dem Lite. If you were a rabbit you wouldn’t seek the advice of the fox when it comes to prime hiding spots, would you? Then why should conservatives heed the advice of the liberal punditry?
Instead I suggest that the movement and leadership heed the advice of a young conservative. Invest in technology like the .com bubble never burst. Gather up the Beta-Males / Females and organise them… let them run wild on the Internet for you, spreading a consolidated and harmonious message. This is the age of the geek. Embrace it or fail to do so at your own peril.
Hey, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.