Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reoccurring Themes 2: Governing Philosophy

Another thing I harp on constantly on this blog is that conservatives are inherently worse at governing because they don't believe in government. It's a pretty easy argument to make, but it seems like something I always feel the need to bring up again and again.

I also like it when others bring it up. While I was MIA, Timothy Noah did a piece on why Republicans are better than Democrats at obstructing the other party when they lose. It fits in nicely with my general philosophy, so here it is.

Democrats view elections as a means to an end, while Republicans view an election as an end in itself. This arises from their differing views about government. Democrats want to use government as a force for good in society, while Republicans want to diminish government's capacity to do harm. "In this present crisis," Ronald Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address, "government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem." These differing views of government's value cause Democrats to favor compromise (since they tend to view minimal action as preferable to no action at all) and Republicans to favor deadlock (second-best to active dismantlement of government). For the past 30-odd years, these respective positions have flipped somewhat when it comes to foreign policy—Republicans favor aggressive, unilateral action abroad, whereas Democrats prefer caution and diplomacy—but it's domestic policy that tends to drive politics and therefore to motivate politicians. With few aspirations to achieve much of anything except cut taxes, Republicans see the apparatus of the federal government mainly as a patronage vehicle, not as something they aspire to manipulate to positive ends while they're out of power. Why dirty their fingernails?
Note that this passage even uses my favorite Ronald Reagan quote that best expresses why conservatives should never be in charge of government. Well said.

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