The basket of policies pushed by recent conservative politicians have done very poorly. And they're sort of the basket voters need to be evaluating when trying to judge conservatism and the candidates who pledge fealty to it. Any Marxist will tell you that "real" Marxism was never tried. That said, just about every time something called Marxism was tried, it traveled down much the same course, and failed in much the same way. Which is what you should be passing judgment on. Similarly, conservatism isn't ending up in this mess by accident. The constellation of interest groups and donors who fund the movement, when mixed with the preferences of the electorate (no, you can't take away my Medicare or cut my Social Security), tend to produce a fairly predictable and similar set of policies -- tax cuts without spending restraint, corporate welfare, weak energy policy, no health care program to speak of, etc, etc. In essence, that set of policies is what conservatism becomes in office. And so it's the set that should be evaluated.
Friday, October 19, 2007
You go to the polls with the ideas your party has, not the ones you wish it had. Ezra Klein makes this point eruditely with the myth of the "real" conservative positions: