catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

The failure of the Republicans

with 8 comments

In light of the recent losses suffered by the Republican party, this interesting article written by former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey before the elections is worth a read (link via Abiola Lapite):

    Republican lawmakers forgot the party’s principles, became enamored with power and position, and began putting politics over policy. Now, the Democrats are reaping the rewards of our neglect — and we have no one to blame but ourselves …
    The leadership must remember that the modern conservative movement is a fusion of social and fiscal conservatives united in their belief in limited government. The party must keep both in the fold. Republicans also need to get back to being the party of big ideas.
    The likely Republican losses in next week’s elections will not constitute a repudiation of the conservative legacy that drove the Reagan presidency and created the Contract With America. To the contrary, it would represent a rejection of big government conservatism. When we get back to being the party of limited government, putting a national agenda ahead of parochial short-term politics, we will again be a party that the American voters will trust to deal with the serious challenges facing our nation.

All noble sentiments coming from a Republican, but as Abiola notes, keeping both ‘social and fiscal conservatives’ in the fold is a big ask:

Reagan squared this circle by paying mere lip service to the nanny-state moralists, and what Bush Jr. has done has been essentially to take the opposite approach, which is precisely why you have a situation in which two big-government parties are reduced to exchanging inane sexual innuendos in lieu of substantive arguments.

This tension will come to a head in all broad church right of centre parties in the years to come, not just the Republicans.

Also worth checking out is this old interview with Armey.


Written by Admin

November 11, 2006 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. we have the same situation…a choice between two big government parties…its just that federal labour is as incompetent as state liberal…


    November 12, 2006 at 5:51 am

  2. AL:
    >…which is precisely why you have a situation in which two big-government parties are reduced to exchanging inane sexual innuendos in lieu of substantive arguments.

    Actually, one thing I’m really tired of is this lame “they’re both as bad as each other” schtick. Regardless of the flaws of the Democrats, we have had over the past six years one of the worst US administrations of all time – more scandal ridden, more tragically inept, more nepotistic, more out of touch with reality, and radically more dependent on slime-as-political-discourse than any in living memory. Removing these unprecedented idiots, who happen to be Republicans, was job number one. That, at least, is Mission Accomplished, and now we can hopefully get back to more usual levels of government incompetence.

    Daniel Barnes

    November 12, 2006 at 6:38 am

  3. What Daniel said. But people, I can accept that the US electorate is (and probably always will be) much more socially conservative than me – why can’t you accept that the reason both parties are in favour of big government is because the electorate is? The difference is just that one party is honest enough to say it has to be paid for.

    And you might even ask yourselves why big government is perennially popular. Perhaps it’s because people mean what they say in surveys; that they want more services from government even if they have to pay for them. That is, the electorate’s interests differ from yours.

    derrida derider

    November 12, 2006 at 8:00 am

  4. They want more services from government even if OTHER people have to pay for them too. Only the most cheerful of social democrat ideologues doesn’t try to minimise their taxes.


    November 12, 2006 at 12:53 pm

  5. most of what Daniel and DD said.

    Of course there is as much tension on the other side as well.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    November 12, 2006 at 7:30 pm

  6. Agree with Daniel.

    Sacha Blumen

    November 12, 2006 at 7:37 pm

  7. There were three levels of failure in the Republican program.

    First, all those candidates who promised to serve six years and quit, and who then went back on that pledge, should have raised more alarms than they did. These alarms would have sounded over the period 1998-2000, but the Republicans were too busy hounding a politician they couldn’t beat and who couldn’t run again anyway.

    Second, they should have known that Bush II, Cheney et al couldn’t run a bath. It’s all very well for a politician to tick all the boxes but if they can’t deliver, why vote for them? The rewards for politicians who said what small-government advocates wanted to hear were too high.

    Third, you can’t whinge about the nanny state when you’re truckling to religious conservatives, who think they can outlaw evolution and homosexuality. Religious conservatives have an enormous base, but they’re dumb about how they mobilise it. In the 1980 Presidential election they mobilised against a lay preacher in favour of a divorced man who rarely went to church. The Ralph Reed sandal, where religious conservatives were mobilised against a casino in one place in order to benefit another casino elsewhere, which had hired Reed as a lobbyist, is beyond a mere scandal – it is a 21st century equivalent of the indulgences of Pope Julius II that pissed off Martin Luther. These people were never serious about small government.

    What does this mean for Australia?

    First, the Liberal Party in the leadup to 1996 did not actively seek to recruit politically engaged candidates with a commitment to small government. They sought out people who were prominent in their local community: stalwarts of the Lions Clubs, big wheels on the local councils, pillars of the church.

    It’s unfair to criticise someone for failing to do something that never occurred to them. John Newcombe is an Australian who has achieved many accolades, but nobody criticises him for failing to cure cancer or to develop an econometric model supporting a flat tax. Small-government advocates never made the case; had they done so, things might have been different.

    Second, John Howard’s credentials as a small-government man were always ropey, and so were those of people who were initially his senior ministers: John Moore, Ian McLachlan, etc. Even now, do you trust Tony Abbott to deliver small government? Mal Brough? Christopher Pyne, Julie Bishop or Greg Hunt?

    Third, while banging on about religion doesn’t play as well here as it does in the States, you’d be a fool to discount the increasing political savvy of churches in Australia – certainly compared to those of small government advocates. You don’t have to be the most cunning political operative around to be able to see Des Moore coming at you, and to sidestep him. Maybe you could point Des at Hillsong for a bit of entertainment.

    Andrew Elder

    November 13, 2006 at 8:31 am

  8. PS1: Grover Norquist must die.

    PS2: This article says it all about small government advocates and the Republicans, hopefully it’s available to non-subscribers.

    Andrew Elder

    November 13, 2006 at 9:44 am

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