Victims Of Their Own Success

19 comments August 4th, 2008at 07:08am Posted by Eli

Greg Anrig explains why the Republican brand is falling apart:

McCain’s ongoing difficulties in exciting voters aren’t just a tactical problem; his woes stem largely from his long-standing adherence to a set of ideas that simply haven’t worked in practice. The belief system and finely crafted policy pitches that enabled the right to dominate the war of ideas for the past 30 years have produced a relentless succession of governing failures, from Iraq to Katrina to the economy to the environment.

(…)

The single theme that most animated the modern conservative movement was the conviction that government was the problem and market forces the solution. It was a simple, elegant, politically attractive idea, and the right applied it to virtually every major domestic challenge — retirement security, health care, education, jobs, the environment and so on. Whatever the issue, conservatives proposed substituting market forces for government — pushing the bureaucrats aside and letting private-sector competition work to everyone’s benefit.

So they advocated creating health savings accounts, handing out school vouchers, privatizing Social Security, shifting government functions to private contractors, and curtailing regulations on public health, safety, the environment and more. And, of course, they pushed to cut taxes to further weaken the public sector by “starving the beast.” President Bush has followed this playbook more closely than any previous president, including Reagan, notwithstanding today’s desperate efforts by the right to distance itself from the deeply unpopular chief executive.

But in practice, those ideas have all failed to deliver on the promises the conservatives made, and in many instances, the dogma has actually created new problems. Particularly after Hurricane Katrina, when Americans saw how hapless the Federal Emergency Management Agency was, the public has begun to realize that the right’s hostility toward government has produced only ineffective government.

One can see the results in recent headlines: a Justice Department where non-conservatives need not apply; tainted spinach, jalapeño peppers and pet food; dangerous imported toys; poorly enforced environmental laws and a warming planet; the regulatory failures that led to the subprime mortgage fiasco. Meanwhile, large tax cuts (as under Reagan) have weakened the country’s fiscal health without significantly improving the lot of the vast majority of citizens. And the right’s enthusiasm for Bush’s brand of “benevolent hegemony” in foreign policy, which insists on the U.S. right to wage preventive war and dismisses the United Nations as a band of meddlesome bureaucrats, has weakened our security — most notably through the unnecessary calamity in Iraq — by diluting our military capabilities and diverting their focus from genuine threats from al-Qaeda.

A lot of core conservative ideas sound pretty good in the abstract: Lower taxes, substitute dynamic, resourceful, efficient American entrepreneurial know-how for bureaucratic red-tape and waste, America as the baddest kid on the global block, and so on.  But once the Republicans successfully sold their Ponzi scheme to the American people, they proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that it doesn’t work worth a damn.

If I wrote a book about how to sculpt a perfect body without dieting or exercising, or about how to get rich without working, and I had hundreds or thousands of pundits singing its praises, I would sell millions of copies.  But it would very quickly become obvious that the books were a fraud, and everyone but the most gullible or desperate crackpots would stop buying them, and my credibility would be destroyed.

But I’d still make a lot of money.  And maybe one day, a new generation forgets what a scam my book was, and starts buying millions of copies again.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Politics,Republicans

19 Comments

  • 1. Cujo359  |  August 4th, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    everyone but the most gullible or desperate crackpots would stop buying them, and my credibility would be destroyed.

    There’d also be a bunch of folks who figured that since your wonderful plan for a better body was the one everyone praised, that it must be impossible to have such a thing. It won’t matter that some folks manage – it’s clearly impossible.

    I think that will be one of the results of all this. Some folks will simply assume that solving our problems is impossible.

    Hope I’m wrong, and I might be, but when you slag the only solution that has a chance and then fail miserably, you’ve pretty much taken away the hope of anyone foolish enough to believe you.

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