Monday, September 19, 2005


Conservatives Bemoan Ascent to Power

"Conservative" thinkers say the ruling party's grip on the reins of power corrupted their ideological purity. The government's response to Katrina, record setting budget deficits, inept conduct of the war in Iraq, and the current slew of corruption scandals involving lobbiests all are blamed on the ruinous success of actually getting to run the government.

Andrew Ferguson, writing in the Weekly Standard, said that as long as the conservatives were struggling to get power, they remained intellectually honest. But "... The Republican takeover -- which is to say, political success -- dealt the mortal blow." Men who came to Washington to do good stayed to do well. (Quoted in David Broder's column today.)

If I'm understanding the argument, it is that a political philosophy that celebrates the supremacy of the individual and equates moral worth with material success was somehow corrupted by the assumption of the reins of power. That a group of millionaires who made no bones about their values and their feelings towards government, taxes and social welfare somehow lost their altruism when they got control of the Congress in 1995. That men openly contemptuous of government and blindly worshipping private enterprise somehow lost their way, changing their mission once they got control.

So the effort to destroy Social Security, the cuts in Medicaid, the bloated energy bill and highway bill, the tax cut bonanza for the wealthiest while deficits threaten to destroy our children's legacy were all aberrations. They were all corruptions of a somehow pure conservative vision.

Mr. Ferguson, with all due respect, rereason that argument. They did, or tried to do, exactly what they said they would. Look a little deeper. Is not the conservative agenda an unsubtle plan to increase the wealth of those already holding vast fortunes?

What kind of man puts himself over all others? And what do you expect of him after you make him your ruler?

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