According to Alan Wolfe Conservatives hate Government and therefore it logically follows they can’t run one. According to Jim Geraghty, Liberals are enraptured with government and therefore it runs them. If I step back from each man’s grandiose attempts at assumption without loss of generality, it is probable to me that they both have a point*.
If we really had to nominate someone similar to John McCain to represent the GOP and if the Dems were legally required to recognize the Imperial Ascension of Hillary Rodham Clinton and skew their primary process accordingly, Wolfe and Geraghty would have a fairly accurate read on how DC “works.” A more nuanced and workable view is to posit a limited government as a necessary utility that does not require a normative fetishism. Government, like a Chevy pick-up, is neither good nor evil. It is a machine that offers limited utility when reasonably used for purposes that other tools would fail to effectively serve. A subset of leaders within the modern GOP realizes this and could change the United States for the better if elected to The White House in 2016. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are two outstanding elements within this sample of new GOP leadership.
It isn’t for nothing that Senator Mitch McConnell considers The Tea Party a far more effective predator against his flock of cronies than the Democratic Party. To understand why McConnell demonizes the reformers within his own electoral coalition, one has to understand the extent to which he fits the chic, urban, SWPL criticism of Conservative in vogue among the Salon and Slate set. Alan Wolfe describes the role Mitch McConnell plays in Modern American governance below.
Unable to shrink government but unwilling to improve it, conservatives attempt to split the difference, expanding government for political gain, but always in ways that validate their disregard for the very thing they are expanding. The end result is not just bigger government, but more incompetent government.
This competes against the Progressives’ flawed reverence of the mailed governing fist that Jim Geraghty describes below.
Liberals’ belief in the inherent goodness of a far-reaching federal government drives them to avert their eyes from its wildest abuses, even when it’s occurring right in front of them. Waste and mismanagement are ignored, dismissed, downplayed, and excused, because confronting it too directly would undermine the central tenet of their worldview: That the federal government is an irreplaceable tool for making the world a better place.
What Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Bob Dole before them fell victim to is an affective death spiral fortified by their willingness to accept contradictory philosophical ideals without thinking long and hard about how to solve the inherent contradiction. This is what happens when somebody practices Aldous Huxley’s “Cynical Realism” as a governing philosophy. McCain, Dole and McConnell all came to understand the untenable contradiction of attempting to grow government in an era of contracting global growth. Yet they convinced themselves that the people would never buy this alternative. So they simply set out to manage the disaster and not say anything to damage their own personal sinecures. This made them more cynical about the good of their own institutions and less respectful of the people who elected them to serve there. Only a bunch of Hobbits would really expect Conservatives to actually practice Conservatism in a complicated world involving shades of grey.
The Progressives are the flip-side of the same worthless coin. They have fallen into their own perverse insanity of modernity. The Progressive happy death spiral is the hallmark of the false paladin throughout the ages. They believe they are good. They believe their opponents are not only misguided; but !E-VIL!** This converse to Cynical Realism has been described as Purificationism.
The past decade has seen the coalescence of a new ideology that envisions social movements in a cataclysmic struggle against global capitalist Empire. Controlled by U.S. militarism and multinational corporations, in cahoots with Zionism, Empire contaminates environments and destroys cultures. Its defeat will bring about a new era of social justice and sustainable development, in which the diverse cultures harmoniously share the earth. Is this a totalitarian ideology? From fascist and communist precedents, we learn that lovers of renewed humanity are not sufficiently motivated by abstract ideals. They must also identify humanity’s enemy, the cause of all suffering. Equipped with a scapegoat, diverse communities can achieve solidarity through shared execration.
Any good sci-fi fan knows that the Cynical Realists will not hold back the jihad of Paul Muad’Dib. What is needed is an improved sense of what government can and should do to better the lives of the American People. Government is not a sentient construct that can be assigned an alignment like a creature in a Dungeons and Dragons Game. It is a philosophical system that serves as an organizational tool. Government really shouldn’t be any more good or evil than the Oracle Logistics Database I’ve been sparring with the last few days. Senator Ted Cruz is intelligent enough to realize this fact and determined enough to fight the prevailing Zeitgeist that refuses to accept this reality. This is necessary to reforming America into a nation that will not drive itself into the ground; but not sufficient.
Rand Paul would compliment Ted Cruz’s practical restraint of governance with a Libertarian determination to actually make it less intrusive. In essence, Ted Cruz is smart enough to know how big government should be and how its resources could be allocated in a vastly more optimal fashion. Rand Paul is determined enough to make the unnecessary and abusive aspects of our governance get off our G—D— lawn! A fusion of small-government Conservatism and reform-minded Libertarianism would more sufficiently address the recurring weaknesses of Progressive governance than the cranky, dishonest managerial pragmatism of Mitch McConnell. Thus we must not allow Senator McConnel, Senator McCain or any other Cynical Realist within the GOP to exterminate our determination to enact reform.
*-Now if all Conservatives and all Liberals were unable to govern, we never would have managed the $T National Debt. Any decision that turns out to be that disastrously bad requires foresight and execution.
**-Anyone who could blog Chimpy Bush McHitlerBurton with a straight face will not be easily cured by Modern Psychiatry.