Skip to comments.The Promised Land( Op-Ed By DAVID BROOKS)
Posted on 11/29/2003 11:26:31 AM PST by luckydevi
The Promised Land By DAVID BROOKS
Published: November 29, 2003
The history of American conservatism is an exodus tale. It begins in the wilderness, in the early 1950's, with Russell Kirk, Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley Jr. writing tracts for small bands of true believers.
Conservatives crashed into the walls of power during the Goldwater debacle of 1964, and then breached those walls with Reagan's triumph 16 years later. But even with Reagan in the Oval Office, Republicans were not the majority party. Democrats controlled the House, and few Reaganites actually knew how to run a government.
In 1994, with the Gingrich revolution, the conservatives strode closer to the center of power. But even then, they were not quite there. For the rule of exodus tales is that the chiefs who lead in the wilderness and storm the citadels do not get to govern once their troops have occupied the city. Renegades are too combative to govern well.
It was only this week that we can truly say the exodus story is over, with the success of the Medicare reform bill. This week the G.O.P. behaved as a majority party in full. The Republicans used the powers of government to entrench their own dominance. They used their control of the federal budget to create a new entitlement, to woo new allies and service a key constituency group, the elderly.
From now on, as Tony Blankley observed in The Washington Times, if you work at an interest group and you want to know what's going on with your legislation, you have to go to the Republicans. The Democrats don't even know the state of play.
If you are the AARP, seeking a benefit, you have to go to the Republicans. If you are a centrist Democrat like John Breaux or Max Baucus seeking to pass legislation, you have to work with the Republicans.
Under the leadership of Bush, Frist, Hastert and DeLay, the Republicans have built a fully mature establishment of activist groups, think tanks and lobbyists, which is amazingly aloof from the older Washington establishment (not to mention the media establishment). Republicans now speak in that calm, and to their opponents infuriating, manner of those who believe they were born to rule.
The Democrats, meanwhile, behave just as the Republicans did when they were stuck in the minority. They complain about their outrageous mistreatment by the majority. They are right to complain. The treatment is outrageous. But the complaints only communicate weakness.
Democrats indulge in the joys of opposition. They get to sputter about fiscal irresponsibility, just as the green-eyeshade Republicans used to, as the majority party uses the power of the purse to buy votes. They get to make wild charges. They get to propose solutions that ignore inconvenient realities. They never have to betray their principles to get something done, and so they savor their own righteousness.
Minority parties are pure but defeated; governing parties are impure but victorious. The Republicans are now in the habit of winning, and are on permanent offense on all fronts. They offer tax cuts to stimulate the economy and please business. They nominate conservative judges to advance conservative social reform and satisfy religious conservatives. They fight a war on terror. They have even come to occupy the Democratic holy of the holies, the welfare state. In exchange for massive new spending, they demand competitive reforms.
The only drawback is that now, as the governing party, they have to betray some of the principles that first animated them. This week we saw dozens of conservatives, who once believed in limited government, vote for a new spending program that will cost over $2 trillion over the next 20 years.
In the past three years, federal education spending has increased by 65 percent. Unemployment benefit payments are up by 85 percent.
Many conservatives are dismayed over what has happened to their movement as it has grown fat and happy in the Promised Land. A significant rift has opened up between the conservative think tankers and journalists, who are loyal to ideas, and the K Street establishmentarians, who are loyal to groups.
The good news for Democrats is that the K Street establishment will slowly win this struggle. The majority will ossify. It will lose touch with its principles and eventually crumble under the weight of its own spoils. The bad news for Democrats is that, as Republicans can tell you, the ossification process is maddeningly slow. After the New Deal, it took 60 years.
An astute article.
Yes, very astute. But this is something that Common Tator has been saying for over a year now.
FR is so far ahead of the curve it's scary sometimes.
Be Seeing You,
Brooks does fail to see that the GOP has given in to eventual fiscal collapse when the boomers' retirement IOU's come in, just as the Democrats gave in fifteen years ago.
No, an apology for socialism. A real Republican working majority would devise a health care plan that relied on choice and market economics -- and they wouldn't be afraid to push it through, over the protests of the media. Instead, they've surrendered to the media's liberalism and given us LBJ-style "reform" There's nothing "astute" in claiming this is a victory for conservatism. It's a defeat for real governance by Republicans and another victory for socialism
Sorry, but he was a fake "conservative" even before he joined the Times. That's why they hired him!
Excuse me. He seems to be confusing his parties. It's the dims who place judges who legislate from the bench.
He has chronicled the rise of the Republican Party and has identified that if you now want to play ball in Washington, you do so in the court of the Republicans.
He acknowledges the price that was paid.
The only drawback is that now, as the governing party, they have to betray some of the principles that first animated them.Now you and I and 95% of the posters to this board will argue that the price is too high and that more work is needed to roll back government.
But none of that makes the article less true.
60 years sounds pretty good to me. I'll take 60 years.
Both sides of the political spectrum live in a make believe world. The left thinks that if they just get the right people to run a socilistic government, or the right country to try it, or just the right amount of Socialism, it will work and produce utopia. Of course it will not.
The equally naieve people on the right think that if they just elect the right people the march to socialism will be stopped and the return to individual freedoms will prevail. What a CROCK.
What part of, This is a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people escapes the right? The answer is all of it.
The right constantly cries for principled leaders as if that were a good thing. What is a principled leader? He or she is a person who will do what their principles dictate no matter what the public want. Of course that is the definition of a dictatorship. The most principled men to govern in the last century were Hitler and Stalin. They did not listen to the public. They did what their principles told them to do.
You of course want a principled leader with whom you agree. That is how Hilters come to power. They always sound good until they get in power. Early on people agree with their principled leaders principles. Then the public learns to hate the implementation of those principles. Too late the public figures out they have no power under a principled leader. Remember he is guided by his principles not public opinion.
What is required to take this nation back to its basic form of government, is a change in the views of voters.
Then and only then will our public servants do what you want. Bush is doing the public will right now.. he is doing what the voters want. You don't like it because you are in the minority. If you were able to change public opinion so your views were in the majority every President would do your will.
But the right keeps looking for that principled leader. If you ever find one, he won't get any more votes than Barry Goldwater... and his very failed campaign will grant a huge victory to the other side. That will likely foster another great society.
I can't argue with your latest missive, but will add that the foundation has been laid.
This article shows the steady progress...Heritage Foundation, the utter triumph of Friedman economics, the emerging ascension of conservative media, and now peopling the "permanent" government with "our" folks.
The last hurdle is academia, and David Horowitz is working on that.
Good point. Factions and parties aspire to become "the Establishment," but this hardly matters to the public, even if they share the expressed ideology of the party or movement. The electorate only wants good, effective and honest officials. We certainly will try to vote out any entrenched, smug, or arrogant establishment, but if the new group shows signs of developing the same faults, the worst thing we can do is to let them take us for granted. Make any party, faction or establishment earn your vote or suffer the consequences of not getting it. Don't give your vote away too easily.
I can certainly admire the conservatives of the 1960s and 1970s setting out to change American politics. Once a movement has changed things and made a place for itself in the political system it's harder to get enthusiastic about it. All other things being equal I'll certainly vote for the more conservative candidate, but "we are the establishment now" doesn't resonate with those of us who never wanted to be part of a governing elite and aren't so crazy about political or journalistic careers. It has to be about something more than rank, office holding and hegemonic position for those of us outside the Beltway to get very interested about politics.
Journalism is "the establishment" in America.
What is happening is simple. So simple that Rush Limbaugh even sees it, yet doesn't like it. Remember when we won the Congress back in 1994? I remember Rush's radio show in the wake of Gingrich's acension. Rush was all filled with hope, optimism, and a sense of gleeful triumph. We were now going to be able to impose our diktat in Washington! Why, by God, we'd be able to use dynamic scoring as opposed to steady state scoring to write up budgets!
Today, Limbaugh is excoriating the Bush Administration because it is not restraining government spending in the middle of a war, and in the advent of an election cycle.
What an absolute crock of horshsh#t. It is manure now, just as it was in 1995. Not the overspending part. Rush is right about that. Nope, it's the political part about which he has a tin ear. Just as he did in 1995.
Rush didn't know it at the time. Clinton bided his time, figuring that Gingrich would either overreach or do something that would kill his popularity. Gingrich did both when the government shut down at the end of 1995. Clinton knew that the media, who hated Gingrich, would help him peddle the proposition that everything was the Republican's fault. Gingrich, like other members of the Stupid Party, believed that Americans would respond to a reasonable attempt by Gingrich to restrain government spending by agreeing with a government shutdown as a reasonable thing to do.
There is a reason why Gingrich is not Speaker today.
Gingrich, like a lot of other Republican true believers, made the mistake of believeing his own bulljohnson. Clinton's victory in the budget shutdown confrontation occured because he knew that Americans would perceive Gingrich to be the obstructionist, and that Clinton would be perceived as that lovable rogue who was trying to solve the People's Problems. This has nothing to do with substance. No matter how correct Gingrich was on substance, the folks in the precincts didn't care about how right the Republicans were on the budget. What they saw was that Gingrich was standing athwart the People's Business, yelling "stop"!
It was in those days that I learned to respect Bill Clinton as a politician.
Republicans had the majority, but were still throwing sand in the gears like they were in the minority. The infamous Daily News front page of Gingrich as a whining baby was far off the mark in reality, but in political terms, it resonated with the public.
But then things changed. The hard school of impeachment gave Republicans a chance to promote a new generation of leaders from the state governorships, men like Tommy Thompson, Spencer Abraham, and a scion of the Bush family, George W. Bush of Texas.
Bush was elected. Times have changed. With one exception, Republicans have held the two chambers since 1994.They are in a valuable strategic position to control the country politically for the next thirty years.
1. Republicans enjoy a commanding lead among white males.
2. Republicans are at parity with women. The gender gap has vanished.
3. With the sole exception of the black vote, Republicans are conducting a "long, hard slog" through the Democrats ethnic base.
We are becoming the natural majority party. People like Bush, Rove, and Frist understand that. People like Cal Thomas or Pat Buchanan don't want to accept the implications of majority status. When the people give you a majority, they expect you to do things for them. Productive things. They don't expect you to take free lunches away from little school chilluns, or turn the aged out on the street with not a prescription drug to be had. They don't care about State's Rights, or what Ayn Rand was trying to get across in John Galt's speech, or how we should return to the Original Intent of the Framers.
They care about the potholes being filled, the stray dogs being taken to the pound, and Grandma getting a new prescription drug benefit from President Bush, who seems to be such a nice man with a lovely wife.
They don't give a rat's a$$ about Tom Tancredo's position on immigration, nor do they care about how true conservatives are to our belief system, and they'd rather not discuss abortion.
You know why I don't go over to DU and get angry at the Current Wisdom circulating among the shahid? Because it's freaking pointless. They have no understanding of the fact that no one cares whether Prescott Bush served on the board of a bank that was a front for Fritz Thyssen's conglomerate in Germany in 1942. No one care's if Bush missed a few roll calls in the Alabama Air Guard (although I do hear that that has been debunked). No one gives a flaming rat's fingernail how much they hate Bush.
That crap doesn't put food on someone's table in Ohio or North Carolina.
Reagan understood this. That's why he hammered Mondale in 1984, who didn't get it. Clinton understood this, as well. He was able to keep his wild eyed lefties contained and pacified as he pursued and maintained his personal power. Clinton used the Democratic Activist crowd like a wet dishrag. When Bubba signed Welfare Reform in 1996, he did two things. He made a Republican proposal his own and he showed the People he was giving them what they wanted.
As a side deal, he made the True Believers his personal bi*ch, and made them like it.
Bush the Younger understands this, as well. So does Arnold. When you have the power, you are expected to do as the people wish with that power. Otherwise, it's your ass at Election Time. Bush remains popular in the middle of a war because he is doing what the people want, and no amount of rain dancing and anger from the head of the Cargo Cult, Howard Dean, can alter that salient fact.
I don't care what the dialectical materialists say. Here, the people hold their officials accountable. Republicans know this now, and are acting accordingly.
Be Seeing You,
You might not go over there, but THEY should come over here and read your post for insight.
On second thought.
Let them sit there....
rubbing their naughty bits...
"my precious...my precious..."
No, the theme of the article is just the opposite - - that the Republicans have decided to play on the Democrats' court - - in the sense that they're pushing Democratic-style big spending. My point is that if the Republicans were really acting like THEY'RE in charge - - instead of merely imitating the Democrats - - - then they would push through a market-oriented, voluntary choice program - and let the media and tha AARP howl. Instead, they adopted the philosophy and the policies of the AARP - ie, socialized medicine. Except for the fact that the Republicans have their names on the bill, this isn't being "in charge," this is capitulation to the other side. If you can't see the difference, then you're part of the problem.
What exactly does that mean in concrete policy terms?