h1

R.I.P. Compassionate Conservatism and Good Riddance

November 7, 2008

Dick Armey (one of the finest names in politics ever) writes in the WSJ:

The liberal pundits who embraced the candidacy of Barack Obama are also eager to issue a death certificate for free market capitalism. They’re wrong, and they remind me of what the great Willie Nelson once said: “I’m ragged but I’m right.”

To be sure, the American people have handed power over to the Democrats. But today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom. Parties are all about getting people elected to political office; and the practice of politics too often takes the form of professional juvenile delinquency: short-sighted and self-centered.

This was certainly true of the Bush presidency. Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. How else do we explain “compassionate conservatism,” No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug benefit and the most dramatic growth in federal spending since LBJ’s Great Society?

Fundamentally, while we do have core principles that differentiate us from the opposition, the base question should be our belief in federalism and the intentions of the Founders to vest powers in the states that were not enumerated in the Consitution. A government that can help the most people is a government that serves the fewest people. All across America, we have mayors, city councils, school boards, and governors that have the ear of the people in their district. They are in the best position to serve their constituencies.  A bigger national government is one that becomes blind to the individual. But hey, PE-BHO said that we are not a nation of individuals. We are the party of limited government, but President Bush, God bless him, dealt away his cards for Iraq. Barring a Obamabump in the road, Iraq will be a thriving country in ten years with Basra possibly ascending to become the new Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

What will be the fate of free market capitalism in America? Will the 2008 election look more like 1932 — or 1992?

On both occasions, Republican presidents had abandoned their party’s principles for bigger government policies that exacerbated difficult economic times. On both occasions, Democrats took control, largely hijacking the small-government, fiscally responsible rhetoric of their opponents. Of course, FDR’s election ushered in the New Deal, the most dramatic expansion of government power in American history, together with policy changes and economic uncertainty that inhibited investment and growth and locked in massive unemployment for nearly a generation.

The official agenda of the incoming administration is not so different from FDR’s. Whatever doubts remain about Mr. Obama’s governing principles can be cleared up by looking at the governing philosophy of the Democrats in Congress he will be crafting legislation with or the liberal constituencies he is indebted to support. Democrats will not be ambiguous. They have every right to be energized, and will attempt sweeping changes to our economy and the very nature of the relationship between individual American citizens and the federal government.

Their wish list is long. Charlie Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has said he would like to redistribute a trillion dollars through the tax code, including massive tax hikes on capital accumulation and individual entrepreneurship. Labor unions want to take away the right of a worker to a secret ballot in organizing elections. Radical environmentalists demand strict curbs on energy production and use. Hillary Clinton may have lost the primary, but expect Democrats to push her favorite idea: government-run heath care.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: