Is E.J. Dionne shaking in his shoes? Via Legal Insurrection comes his essay titled The Right’s Stealthy Coup. Aren’t all coups stealthy? Anywho, Dionne takes a note of the rightward shift in the conservative discourse — from SCOTUS judges seemingly rejecting the individual mandate to the triumph of Paul Ryan’s budget in the House. As the columnist sees it, from the election of Eisenhower to the rise of the Tea Party, mainstream conservationism was far less ambitious than it is now. Dionne ends his essay with an appeal to moderates:
If our nation’s voters want to move government policy far to the right, they are entirely free to do so. But those who regard themselves as centrist have a moral obligation to make clear what the stakes are in the current debate. If supposed moderates refuse to call out the new conservatism for the radical creed it has become, their timidity will make them complicit in an intellectual coup they could have prevented.
I’m pretty sure that by “moderates” he doesn’t mean Blue Dog Democrats. Some people like to imagine themselves moderates because they believe that truth is something to be found in the middle, and sometimes it is. But if, for instance, one group of people holds freedom to be their highest value, and another chooses tyranny, does it mean that an objective observer should conclude that the right choice is something in between? Of course not.
Even if we assume that there is a golden middle of American political discourse, what is the state of the two poles? Conservatism is no doubt on the march, but liberalism is fumbling. Here a terrific essay by Walter Russel Mead (via Instie) about Obamacare and the failure of the blue technocratic model comes to mind:
But the health care law’s troubles shed some further light on the crisis of American progressivism and the blue social model it has built. Those who believe in the blue model and want to extend it have lost their touch; the dream machines of the blue social engineers don’t sail serenely across the azure sky anymore. Think of the various carbon exchanges and environmental planetary schemes; think of high speed rail proposals like California’s $100 billion train to bankruptcy; think of Obamacare. These days the experts, “social entrepreneurs” and smart young blue twenty somethings fresh out of the Ivy League whomp up social programs with as much verve and dedication as their New Deal and Great Society predecessors, but the new Dreamliners don’t take off. At most they roll around the runway, emitting clouds of noxious smoke; wings fall off, windows pop out, turbines misfire and the tires go flat.
Obamacare was supposed to be the capstone in the arch of a new progressive era. The Dems were going to show us all that government really does work. Smart government by smart people, using modern methods and the latest up to the minute research from carefully peer reviewed articles in well regarded social science journals can solve big social problems. Obamacare was going to be such a big hit that even the bitter clingers would have to put down their guns and their Bibles long enough to thank the Democrats for this wonderful new benefaction.
But even if the Supreme Court doesn’t pull the trigger and kill the law in June, the darn thing won’t fly. The public hates it, and the longer it’s on the books the less popular it gets. [cursive mine, --ed.]
What I think mainstream America has learned over the past three and a half years is that the government doesn’t work all that well, and that a bottom-up, competitive private enterprise is far superior in delivering goods and services than a byzantine federal bureaucracy, and that a government large enough to provide for our welfare is large enough to take away our liberties. At the very least mainstream America has to be disappointed with the liberal elites.
The federal budget battle is another illustration of the sorry state of Left ideas. The President’s budget was unanimously rejected by the House, and the Democratic congressmen didn’t even bother to submit their own. So how does one moderate between the muddled Left and the feisty, empowered Right?
An appeal to moderation in a war of ideas is something that the losing side is known to resort to. Censorship is another tactic. And so we see the Democratic establishment in the form of Media Matters trying to get Rush off the air — because they can not engage him in the war of words. Then there is smearing of opponents. Conservatives are racist and sexist — hence hyperventilating about free of charge contraception and trying to build a movement around the tragic shooting death of a Florida teen.
And how about our 44th President, technically (via Instapundit) a former Constitutional Law professor, declaring that it would be “unprecedented” for SCOTUS to overturn a law it deems unconstitutional? Can we assume that he issued that statement because the unpopular, poorly written law is named after him? How insecure!
The 2008 Democratic electoral victory was not exactly driven by political philosophy. Democrats owe their good luck to the September 08 financial meltdown — McCain/Palin were doing well prior to it. They can also credit the Obama glamour. To be sure, we conservatives, have our own glamorous figures and charismatic leaders, like Sarah Palin and the late Andrew Breitbart, but we like to pile on our presumptive Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. I love it because it shows confidence in our ideas.
And oh, on the subject of Romney. If Mittens does manage to lose the election, it is going to be on the “moderates”.