Saturday, July 01, 2006

Why Conservatives (Corporations) Can't Govern

Why Conservatives Can't Govern (or Report the News)
By Alan Wolfe

Search hard enough and you might find a pundit who believes what George W. Bush believes, which is that history will redeem his administration. But from just about everyone else, on the right as vehemently as on the left, the verdict has been rolling in: This administration, if not the worst in American history, will soon find itself in the final four. Even those who appeal to history's ultimate judgment halfheartedly acknowledge as much. One seeks tomorrow's vindication only in the context of today's dismal performance.

(indicted Delay - top, former leader of the RNC, Abramoff RNC money launderer, indicted and sentenced to six years with a further investigation ongoing relating to a mafia hit. Both men claim to be religous right, born- again men of God.)

About the only failure more pronounced than the president's has been the graft-filled plunder of GOP lawmakers--at least according to opinion polls, which in May gave the GOP-controlled Congress favorability ratings in the low 20s, about 10 points lower than the president's. This does not necessarily translate into electoral Armageddon; redistricting and other incumbency-protection devices help protect against that. But even if many commentators think that Republicans may retain control over Congress, very few think they should. ...

(Jeb Bush. I ran a search under "Bush Crime Family" yesterday: 38 million links, with detailed information ( National Archives) came up just like that. Which begs the question: WHY if America is a free country, has this family not been prosecuted?)

The United States, as the political scientist Louis Hartz argued in the 1950s, was born liberal. We fought for our independence against Great Britain and the conservatism that flourished there. In Europe, a conservative was someone who defended the traditions of the monarchy, justified the privileges of the nobility, and welcomed the intervention of a state-affiliated clergy in politics. But all those things would be tossed out by the revolutionaries who led the war for independence and then wrote the Constitution. We chose to have an elected president, not an anointed monarch. Our Constitution prohibited the granting of titles of nobility. We separated church and state.

If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government--indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government--is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.

Three examples--FEMA, Medicare, and Iraq-- should be sufficient to make this point. firms exploited workers. Their efforts are designed to help business and to build their party, and for those tasks, Congress, and the money at its disposal, is a weapon to use, not an institution to shrink. It took conservatives, who in the 18th and early 19th century supported quasi-feudal states and distrusted the instabilities of the market, a hundred years to become advocates of laissez faire. And under the imperatives of the K Street Project, it took them just five to abandon their belief in laissez faire to support a corrupt business-government partnership bearing striking resemblance to feudalism. ...

For a disillusioned idealist such as Matthew Continetti, Washington, D.C. is now filled with "people who mouth conservative principles while getting rich off conservative power." ... Southern-style, gentlemanly conservatism that emphasizes chivalry and honor. The cavaliers and Mugwumps are long-gone from conservatism, and the Duke Cunninghams have replaced them.
For Pat Buchanan to blame the neocons for the failure in Iraq ignores the fact that the man most responsible for the failure, Donald Rumsfeld, has more in common with Buchanan than he does with Bill Kristol. (One prominent neoconservative, however, Paul Wolfowitz, did sign on enthusiastically to Rumsfeld's agenda.)

Iraq failed for the same reasons that all conservative public policy efforts fail. Refusing to acknowledge the importance of government while relying on it to achieve your objectives causes the same kind of chaos in foreign policy that it does in matters closer to home. ...

But since contemporary conservatives get their political energy from angry voices of rage and revenge, they will always blame others for the failures built into their ideology. That is why conservatism so rarely makes for a good governance party. As far as conservatives are concerned, it is always someone else's government, one reason they can be so indifferent to their own mismanagement.

The text above is largely excerpted from the link below.
Alan Wolfe teaches political science at Boston College and is the author of Does American Democracy Still Work? (Yale University Press).

From 9/11 (advance warnings ignored), to Katrina and the criminal negligence in moving funds from New Orleans to Iraq, this administration has been harmful to both the world and the American people.


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