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GOP tossing aside 'Atlas' in favor of 'Das Kapital'

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This editorial by Eugene Robinson was out in the Washington Post today. Robinson says:

Can any Republican candidate claim with a straight face to represent the party of small government?

For that matter, can any Republican candidate plausibly explain what the party is supposed to stand for these days?

It's pathetic to hear right-wing talk radio blowhards try to associate Barack Obama with "radical" or "socialist" views when a Republican administration is tossing aside "Atlas Shrugged" and speed-reading "Das Kapital."

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  • 4 weeks later...
I defy anyone to give a coherent explanation of what today's Republican Party, under George Bush and now John McCain, wants to do except perpetuate itself in power.

Why is this a surprise to Eugene Robinson?

Also, Mr. Robinson's defense of the progressive tax system is fallacious in that it does not guarantee that the government will obtain enough revenues to support itself.

No tax system whose purpose is to support a welfare state can be construed as fair, anyhow.

My point of view differs from Mr. Robinson (duuuuuh) in that I never regarded any political party to have a philosophically justifiable purpose.

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  • 3 weeks later...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/opinion/...amp;ref=opinion

Small Isn’t Beautiful

President-elect Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress are about to serve up a supersized helping of big-government liberalism. Conservatives will be inclined to oppose much of what Obama and his party cook up. And, I believe, rightly so.

But conservatives should think twice before charging into battle against Obama under the banner of “small-government conservatism.” It’s a banner many Republicans and conservatives have rediscovered since the election and have been waving around energetically. Jeb Bush, now considering a Senate run in 2010, even went so far as to tell Politico last month, “There should not be such a thing as a big-government Republican.”

Really? Jeb Bush was a successful and popular conservative governor of Florida, with tax cuts, policy reforms and privatizations of government services to show for his time in office. Still, in his two terms state spending increased over 50 percent — a rate faster than inflation plus population growth. It turns out, in the real world of Republican governance, that there aren’t a whole lot of small-government Republicans.

Five Republicans have won the presidency since 1932: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes. Only Reagan was even close to being a small-government conservative. And he campaigned in 1980 more as a tax-cutter and national-defense-builder-upper, and less as a small-government enthusiast in the mold of the man he had supported — and who had lost — in 1964, Barry Goldwater. And Reagan’s record as governor and president wasn’t a particularly government-slashing one.

Even the G.O.P.’s 1994 Contract With America made only vague promises to eliminate the budget deficit, and proposed no specific cuts in government programs. It focused far more on crime, taxes, welfare reform and government reform. Indeed, the “Republican Revolution” of 1995 imploded primarily because of the Republican Congress’s one major small-government-type initiative — the attempt to “cut” (i.e., restrain the growth of) Medicare. George W. Bush seemed to learn the lesson. Prior to his re-election, he proposed and signed into law popular (and, it turned out, successful) legislation, opposed by small-government conservatives, adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

So talk of small government may be music to conservative ears, but it’s not to the public as a whole. This isn’t to say the public is fond of big-government liberalism. It’s just that what’s politically vulnerable about big-government liberalism is more the liberalism than the big government. (Besides, the public knows that government’s not going to shrink much no matter who’s in power.)

Now it’s true that the size of the government and the modern liberal agenda are connected. It’s also true that modern conservatism has to include a strong commitment to limited (though energetic) government and to constitutional (though not necessarily small or weak) government. Still, there’s a difference between a conservatism that is concerned with limited and constitutional government and one that focuses on simply opposing big government.

So: If you’re a small-government conservative, you’ll tend to oppose the bailouts, period. If you more or less accept big government, you’ll be open to the government’s stepping in to save the financial system, or the auto industry. But you’ll tend to favor those policies — universal tax cuts, offering everyone a chance to refinance his mortgage, relieving auto makers of burdensome regulations — that, consistent with conservative principles, don’t reward irresponsible behavior and don’t politicize markets.

Similarly, if you’re against big government, you’ll oppose a huge public works stimulus package. If you think some government action is inevitable, you might instead point out that the most unambiguous public good is national defense. You might then suggest spending a good chunk of the stimulus on national security — directing dollars to much-needed and underfunded defense procurement rather than to fanciful green technologies, making sure funds are available for the needed expansion of the Army and Marines before rushing to create make-work civilian jobs. Obama wants to spend much of the stimulus on transportation infrastructure and schools. Fine, but lots of schools and airports seem to me to have been refurbished more recently and more generously than military bases I’ve visited.

I can’t help but admire some of my fellow conservatives’ loyalty to the small-government cause. It reminds me of the nobility of Tennyson’s Light Brigade, as it charges into battle: “Theirs but to do and die.” Maybe it would be better, though, first to reason why.

Ahhh... no small government conservatives any more! As they say, straight from the horses mouth!

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That was William Kristol, BTW. (Next time you might give the author's name.... I had to follow the link to find it out, certainly I wasn't otherwise inclined to regard the New York Times as "the horse's mouth" when it comes to discussing conservatism.

It became absolutely undeniable that the Rs would not fight for principle even if you gave them all the power they would need to do it, when they folded like a cardboard cutout in a hurricane during the first budget "crisis" of 1995.

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