declared victory in the ideological struggle between Left and
Right: "After decades of war, the Right (broadly defined) has
won (even more broadly defined)." It occurred to me that it would
be interesting to examine the nature of "our" victory, while we're
cleaning up the battlefield and putting away our guns and all.
neocon who can see "we" have won is David Frum. Writing in the
National Post of Canada, Frum explained his recent decision
to take a job in the Bush administration:
have never been anarchists. They have always believed government
was necessary and that, in its proper sphere, it was even a positive
good. But in reaction to the terrifying excesses of government
in the 1960s and 1970s, conservatives sometimes talked like anarchists.
As government ceased to look so terrifying, the conservative reaction
against it came to seem to many nearly as excessive as government
itself had once been.
you just got back to the United States from a 30-year trip during
which you were isolated in the remotest jungle, Frum's statement
would lead you to believe that the US government had become much
smaller during the intervening decades. After all, if the scope
of government interference with citizen's lives was "terrifying"
in the 60s and 70s, but now it is not, it follows that this must
have been cut back significantly.
since Frum professes to be a conservative, you would conclude
that, well, we at least went back to a pre-New-Deal level of government.
Perhaps even the "Progressive" era reforms had been repealed.
And since conservatives venerate the original meaning of the founders
when interpreting the Constitution, they really shouldn't be happy
until the Federal government has been cut back to its original,
your shock when you examined the years between when Frum found
the excesses of government were "terrifying" and today, and discovered
that the Federal government had merely continued to grow, becoming
ever more intrusive, taking on ever more tasks not listed in its
Constitutional powers, spending ever more money. By 1999, the
federal budget had grown to approximately 17 times its 1960 size.
Federal discretionary spending is now growing at the fastest pace
in over two decades.
new, "not so terrifying" government has decided it has the power
to seize your property for simply suspecting you of a crime. It
has roasted up some kids because it suspected they were being
abused. It has starved half a million Iraqi children to death,
and bombed such powerful, threatening countries as Serbia, Sudan,
why is it that Frum is so sanguine about the much larger Federal
government of today than the "terrifying" one of the 1960s? It
couldn't be because he's now part of it, could it?
Kurtz of the Hudson Institute blames
the "public" for the neocons' lack of interest in reducing the
size of government: "We can solve the problem [of government funding
of the left] by scaling back government and de-funding the Left.
But the public seems to have rejected that option. In fact, learning
that lesson is what made George Bush president."
fact, Mr. Kurtz, the one recent time when Republicans ran
on a platform of scaling back government 1994, with the Contract
for America they won an overwhelming victory. Of course, almost
immediately neocons like Bill Kristol moved in to advise them,
vis-à-vis that "scaling back" business, to do nothing of
the sort. Following the advice of the "Sage of Good Morning
America" has led to a loss of Republican congressional seats
in every subsequent election. The masses who had come out to vote
Republican in '94 became disgusted when they saw that the GOP
had no more intention of rolling back government than did the
Democrats, and they have since stayed home. Only the power of
incumbency and the dollars in pork they are now in charge
of has maintained the slim Republican majority.
a similar vein,
William F. Buckley chastises conservatives for their lack of realism:
aren't thoughtlessly enthusiastic about the Bush program inasmuch
as, once again, we have the instrument of government engaged in
activity that is best supervised by a) non-government; and b)
a smaller unit of government. What conservatives are going to
have to get used to is that certain fights we have waged are,
quite simply, lost. It is fine, in our little seminars, to make
the case against a federal Social Security program, but it pays
to remind ourselves that nobody outside the walls of that classroom
is going to pay much attention to our Platonic exercises.
suggests a new motto for National Review: "Standing athwart
history, yelling, 'We surrender!'" Certainly, if everyone who
believes that Social Security is an egregious program is persuaded
to stop making a fuss about it, it is likely to remain around
for a long time. Buckley's admonition is not essentially different
than someone who advised a Soviet dissident, in 1985, that there
was no sense in fighting communism that battle was long since
lost. Best to just see if you can get an extra pair of shoes each
these people are supposedly opinion leaders, swaying other people
with their words. And they supposedly adhere to an ideology that
features constitutionally limited government as one of its central
tenets. If they are advising everyone that the battle for
such government is lost, then it is any wonder that the public
begins to think so?
Goldberg inadvertently explains this phenomenon in the article
Lord, how many former Leftists, socialists, Marxists, Trotskyists,
and Democrats have moved right? Literally hundreds. If you count
normal, non-pointy headed people, millions. Generation after generation
of the Left's best minds have decided they like things over here
problem, of course, is that many of them have "gone Right" only
skin deep. In their hearts, they are still socialists. They can't
quite stand the idea that people should really be left
alone. While paying lip service to "the market," they add "but
the market must be tempered with [our] government policies, to
protect the weak, guard morality, defend our interests abroad,
eliminate illegal drug use, discourage pre-marital sex, uplift
the public, provide nice parks, build roads, fund
scientific research, promote great art... Oh, and as long
as we need all of these policies, you know, we'd be willing to
come in and give you a tip or two on running them." Well, Jeez,
next thing you know that old Federal budget has gone and growed
the neocons themselves need a motto. I'll suggest one:
giving up the fight, but just a little bit at a time!"