What is the proper role of government?
It really is an historic time
when the scope of Obama's ambitions are, rightly, compared with those of FDR, LBJ and Reagan. Though he clearly doesn't like what he sees, Charles Krauthammer
does a good job outlining the debate going forward. ... How are conservatives to respond to Obama's unabashed push toward European-style big government? John Derbyshire has a suggestion: Turn off the right-wing talk radio. OK, he doesn't quite say that. But he makes an excellent point that the low-brow talk meisters are dominating the debate -- and not enough is being heard from other quarters. ...
My suggestion would be for conservatives to start asking this question: What is the proper role of government? Please, no pithy but ultimately meaningless answers like 'small government.' They need to ask themselves variations of this question on an almost agency-by-agency, program-by-program basis: What is the proper role of government in regulating the financial markets? What is the proper role of government in responding to natural disasters? Etc. Then they'll need to drill down farther: When presented with running an agency conservatives don't like, do you: A.) Install hacks to run it, therefore guaranteeing money will be wasted or B.) Install competent managers to run it, in the hope waste can be minimized until its long-term future is determined? These are the type of questions not being asked. There's no 'paradoxical pragmaticism'
among conservatives these days because it's far easier for them to carp from the sidelines and pretend their utopian experiment in Ayn Rand economics didn't happen, on one hand, while they flinched from criticizing George Bush's vast expansion of government, on the other hand.
From my somewhat moderate perspective, all I can say is: I don't want conservatives back in office until they answer some of these questions. Their 'tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts' refrain just ain't cutting it.Update
-- Bert liked the post and adds:
As a liberal, I wouldn’t let our folks off the hook on this task, either. Is there anyone that wouldn’t argue that every policy and agency seems to have become an unreasonable binary proposition, with both options seeming to be a bit too tied to a generic philosophy designed to support a “big tent” party philosophy?
At some point, doesn’t an all encompassing party philosophy work as a detriment to honest policy discussion and debate? You’re always opening yourself up to a charge that you’re positions are contradictory.