The internet is awash today with articles about the terrible state of the GOP. And no doubt, the GOP has been greatly damaged by scandals and public frustration with things like the war, runaway spending, and GOP scandals. Yet articles like this from Eugene Robinson misdiagnose what’s going on. He calls in the GOP’s “Ideas Deficit” and claims that what has really lost its appeal in the idea of limited government:
It turns out that Americans don’t want their leaders to simply shrug, as George Bush shrugs, at the fact that 47 million citizens do not have health insurance. It turns out that Americans don’t want their leaders to simply tsk-tsk, as George Bush tsk-tsks, at the wrenching economic dislocations that stem from globalization.
It turns out that if government declines to adequately regulate or even monitor the financial system, unfettered markets can make catastrophic blunders.
First, it seems a bit of hyperbole to call the current economic situation — slow growth, no doubt, but continued low unemployment and historically high sctock market — “catastrophic.” But more importantly, do Americans really now want an activist government, socialized medicine and protectionism? What are the Democrats great ideas that constitute an “idea deficit”?
As far I know, the Democrats continue to champion redistributionist tax policies, socialized medicine, protectionism, workplace regulations, higher spending without any reform in education, higher taxes as a means to prop up Social Security…. what is it that is so new and appealing?
The GOP may have done a terrible job implementing their policies for the most part, but the conservative vision of policy reform still resonates. Does anyone question that school choice is at the heart of real education reform? That we are better off moving toward a retirement system that resembles a 401k instead of a Ponzi scheme? That allowing goods to come from overseas is better for Americans because we then get both more diversity and higher quality goods, and get to sell our own products to consumers around the world? That government provision of healthcare would be a disaster and that the problem with today’s healthcare system is that it isn’t enough of a marketplace, not the other way around?
There is reason to be gloomy about GOP prospects, but it isn’t because the fundamental conservative ideas are faulty.