I tend to put too much time and effort into responding to provocative articles and FB posts. So I’m reclaiming my own detritus from the sea. This is response to a friend who wrote that “I suppose its a hard thing for Democrats to understand but Republicans aren’t just for cutting programs for austerity measures but rather desire government efficiency.”
I’d just argue slightly with you when you say Republicans “desire government efficiency.” That was true 40 years ago. It was true 20 years ago. There was a time that I can still remember that a Republican was always the smartest guy in the room. They were hardened by tough economic realities in the late 60s and 70s, and their vision wasn’t clouded by liberal dreams of some utopian peace planet. They wanted to limit, not destroy the government. They wanted to liberate, not decimate, the marketplace.
Even when they were wrong, they were hard to argue with. They supported import tariffs and farm subsidies, and they couldn’t stop themselves from seeing war as a shiny economic get out of jail free card.
But those guys are gone. I’m never going to be nostalgic about Reagan because I truly believe he was a dim and destructive fool, and his administration’s “trickle down theory” is still clogging the Republican toilet today. Clinton was just as bad in many ways, so don’t think I’m only attacking the right. Clinton succeeded because he basically co-opted the right’s economic focus and strategy when they weren’t looking.
But as bad as those guys were in many ways, they weren’t political extremists, the equivalent of a suicide bomber who just wants to make a mess and go out with a bang. I’m all for disruptive change, but it has to be change that is voted for by the electorate.
There are moderate, smart Republicans around today still, and I respect them and learn from them. But they are not in Congress. The Jeff Daniels character in The Newsroom (a network news anchor) gets in trouble for calling the tea party the American Taliban. But I don’t see how that’s wrong. They don’t desire government efficiency. They want government to dwindle and disappear, like an umbilical cord. They’re convinced that liberty and individual freedom are the only principles that define America. Not freedom to do something, but freedom from something, freedom from being asked to coöperate, to recognize that as individuals, we are weak, but as a country we can be not only strong, but efficient.