December 13, 2003

Bush's Koolaid

Some people in the conservative and libertarian camps despair needlessly over George W. Bush. Donald Sensing's recent post predicting that he's the last generation of free american is a case in point. What they miss is that the Republicans have been brewing up a batch of small government Koolaid for decades and Bush is really the first President to get america to drink it down.

Let's take a look at the Department of Education. Reagan went in and there were noises about abolishing it. Well, it's still here though a lot of people politely pretended to imbibe. Was that progress? I say only in the most limited sense of clearing the field so the real work could get started.

Let's look at Social Security. Newt Gingrich went in and talked about privatization and the withering away of the old system. Did he actually get anything passed on the subject? With less charm than Reagan, people didn't even bother to pretend to drink as they poured the stuff into the nearest potted plant. Again, the answer is no real progress legislatively but the gradualist meme was introduced.

Now we have Bush who is not talking about ending things at all but instead is focusing on creating metrics for publicly measuring success and failure in education (no child left behind), health care (medicare reform), and, if reelected, pensions (pension choice). He's already got two down and will likely get the third in a new term.

If you have faith in your convictions as a small government conservative, you have to believe that all these success metrics will loudly proclaim, in a faux sort of market, the failure of the command and control government solution. This sets up two favorable dynamics for a future small government president:

1. People will be fleeing the command and control solutions as they figure out that it's a bad deal for them personally. This will be a majority of the voting public

2. The residue that remain will not need the universality of the current systems with their high overheads. You can restructure it into something that would strongly resemble a conventional charity and eventually spin it off into a charity equivalent of Fannie Mae. Give it an appropriate endowment so that 'the politicians can't rob from the poor to pay for other programs'.

To get to this point small government advocates had to get the Democrats to drink the Koolaid. Reagan couldn't do it, neither did Newt. Bush did. The main problem with Bush is that he's crab walking and that's confusing people as to whether he's really going forward or back. But it's that crab walk that has convinced enough Democrats into thinking that maybe they have a shot at winning the next round. Don't bet on it if Bush has anything to say about it. The truth is the best chance the Democrats have is disheartened conservatives and libertarians ceding the field and letting leftists win the crucial next round.

Buck up, gear up, and get ready for 2k5.

Posted by TMLutas at December 13, 2003 12:09 PM