Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The President Is Conservatism's Best Argument

John Dickerson at Slate.com writes a column similar to (but much better than) the VP post titled What's Wrong with Big Government?

Dickerson explains how the recent ethical and policy debacles of the Obama administration are inadvertently making the case for the conservative (as distinct from the Republican) political philosophy. His essay is very good. Here are a few excerpts:
The Obama administration is doing a far better job making the case for conservatism than Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, or John Boehner ever did. Showing is always better than telling, and when the government overreaches in so many ways it gives support to the conservative argument about the inherently rapacious nature of government.

First let's get our terms straight. Conservatives are not the same as Republicans. The former believe in a philosophy which stays roughly fixed and the latter belong to a party that occasionally embraces the philosophy but deviates when necessary to win elections, pass legislation, and follow the selfish aims of those who are in office and want to remain there. Conservatives argue against the expansion of government, whereas Republicans sometimes enlarge it to please their constituents or themselves.

[E]conomist James Buchanan, who won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his work studying economic incentives in government [argued] that politicians are not benevolent agents of the common good but humans acting in their own self-interest or for a special interest. "If there is value to be gained through politics," Buchanan wrote, "persons will invest resources in efforts to capture this value." Since Democrats and Republicans alike are sinful, each side will find ways to work that is self-interested, rapacious, and boundary breaking. Keep the government small to limit the damage.

Whether these [recent] scandals are the result of base motives or a desire to act for the greater good, the eventual result is the destruction of individual liberties. Your IRS comes down on you because you have the wrong ideology or, in the name of protecting the citizenry, the Justice Department starts listening to your phone calls.
What effect does a general distrust of government have on policy? In order to capture public support for gun control, immigration reform, measures to mitigate global warming, etc. the government has to have the trust of the people but this administration has squandered that trust. Only the true believers still think that Mr. Obama is the sainted messiah he was portrayed to be by the media and his campaign in 2008. His administration is run by people, from the chief on down, who are either incompetent, corrupt, or who list toward tyranny. Or perhaps they are all three, but no administration so constituted is going to have the trust of the people, nor should it.

As Dickerson states in his concluding sentence, it looks like conservatives understand something (about government) that liberals do not. Indeed, what they understand that liberals do not is not so much about government as it is about human nature. They understand that human beings are corrupt, deceitful, and power-hungry. When this flawed condition is combined with a lack of relevant experience, personal narcissism, and left-wing ideological zealotry, the blend is very dangerous. When such people are placed in positions of power, whether in the Oval Office, the Department of Justice, the EPA, the SEC, or the IRS, then our freedoms are in serious jeopardy and our childrens' future is put at grave risk.