RUSH: A piece that ran yesterday in National Review by Alex Castellanos called ‘Quo Vadis, GOP?’ Castellanos is ‘a Republican media consultant who lives in Alexandria, Virginia,’ and he’s all over cable TV doing Republican strategist talk.
Have you noticed how many Republican and Democrat strategists these cable TV people come up with? I think they just grab good-looking people off the street and bring ’em in and say, ‘Do you know what the difference between a Republican and Democrat is?’
‘Okay. You’re a Democrat strategist on this next segment.’
Who are these people? You put something up there says ‘Democrat strategist,’ then they must work somewhere where they strategize for Democrats. They must work for a candidate. They must work. Where do they work? Who are these people? I never heard of half of them! Republican strategist? I’m not being partisan here. ‘Republican strategist,’ the same thing. Anyway, the subhead title of Mr. Castellanos’ piece is: ‘How a conservative can love government.’ Now, this begins the problem. One of the problems that I’ve always identified is that too many on our side accept the premise of any liberal argument and then try to tweak it around the edges and give it some sort of a conservative identity or flavor, which is defeat. It’s surrender! Happy surrender. Just accept their premise and then try to tweak it a little bit. Mr. Castellanos begins thus:
‘The Republican [P]arty is a having an identity crisis, a full-blown public meltdown, complete with teenage existential angst. Erik Erikson, the psychologist who coined the term, described an ‘identity crisis’ as the absence of a set of constant social, philosophical, or religious values to guide human action in a constantly changing environment. That pretty much describes today’s Republicans, who have no clue who they are, where they are going, or why — a serious impairment if you presume to lead a conga line, and much more so for the most powerful nation on earth,’ and then he has a couple paragraphs where he sort of takes to task, in a pretty good way, some of these pseudoconservative intellectual media. David Brooks, he singles out. He also singles out Tom Davis, member of Congress from Virginia, who’s a classic example of what I’m talking about, just a classic. ‘Tom Davis, a former leader of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, writes, ‘the Republican brand is in the trash can,” and he quotes Peggy Noonan, some of her latest hand-wringing, and he quotes the New Yorker and goes on and on and on and on and on and on.
He then says: ‘Conservatives do have something to say about this. Our British cohorts, as Brooks notes, are expressing it [this way]: ‘They want voters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control.’ But the ‘Conservative Revival’ that Brooks has discovered in the Anglo motherland is new only in expression, not in principle or practice. Conservatives have always believed in bottom-up self-government, not top-down, state-imposed administration. Conservatives do not hate government. We never have. We love life when it is well-governed. We respect the flag, our country, and traditional authority. We like a world where rules are observed and regulations are respected. We revere the order of the church. We respect the lines on the playing field and we stop at traffic lights. We want things to work. We want trains to run on time,’ and to stay on the rails. ‘We want our lives to be ordered. We want our lives to be governed — just not by others. We want our lives governed by the face we see in the mirror. We want our lives governed by ourselves.’
So far so good, right? You like this so far, Snerdley? Okay, sit tight, then.
Liberals ‘do not love government. What they love is power, especially when it is concentrated in the state and they have their hands on it. Whether that power actually governs anything is immaterial.’ Here. Now we’re starting to get into the little gray area. Now we’re going to start redefining government so that we can still use the term, but on our terms. So we’re going to accept the liberal term of government: government should do this, government should do that. This is where Mr. Castellanos is headed: ‘Yes, government should keep the trains on time — we, governing ourselves, should keep the trains on time.’ Bear with me on this, folks. This is actually rather simple to explain. Liberals ‘do not love government. What they love is power, especially when it is concentrated in the state and they have their hands on it. Whether that power actually governs anything is immaterial. Yes, they believe in a large and growing public sector. But liberalism’s antique, industrial-age imperative that all authority must be top-down and emanate from the public sector has established a colossal record of failure. The big old machine is broken. Liberalism doesn’t ‘govern’ anything these days,’ which is true.
Liberalism doesn’t. But when he says liberalism doesn’t govern anything, he says liberalism doesn’t make anything work. But they do govern. They use the power of the state to infringe individual freedom and liberty! ‘Liberalism doesn’t govern spending — it is out of control in Washington. Liberalism doesn’t govern education — our public schools are a painful wreck. Liberalism doesn’t govern health care… Liberalism doesn’t govern energy. Liberalism doesn’t govern drugs, crime, a decaying infrastructure, or a lackluster economy. Liberalism doesn’t govern our culture — it is unwinding. Liberalism doesn’t govern retirement… Pick anything, anything Washington has been tasked to govern — and Washington has proven unable to administer it. … What liberals believe governs nothing. What liberals believe does not work. What post-modern conservatives believe, however, does work. The evidence is all around us in the successful embrace of capitalism now lifting nations around the planet. In fact, the language of the Internet, the communications age, and the environmental and civil-rights movements describe post-modern conservatism with perfection and grace.
‘What we believe in is people-driven, choice-filled, dynamic, flexible, equal-opportunity self-government. We should call it organic government. Want to know what your government is going to look like 20 years from now? Ask your children. They will say it will look a lot less like General Motors and a lot more like MySpace. The Internet is an education for us all, a place where people self-organize and govern themselves with maximum freedom. In its reflection, we can see more than the future of technology and communications; we can see the promise of democracy.’ So there’s another page here, but you see where this is going. It’s really good in parts, but still: We conservatives, in order to persuade people that our ideas are better, still must do it within the confines of government because we’ve lost the argument. Liberals own the term ‘government.’ Government is good. Government is a great benefactor. Government’s the end-all, everything. We can’t get rid of that term, and we can’t say government’s bad, and we can’t say ‘Big Government’ ’cause people like it. So now we have ‘organic government,’ self-government.
RUSH: Let me just give you the last paragraph here from Mr. Castellanos’ piece from National Review Online from which I have just recently been reading: ‘Our theme, our brand, our identity? How about this: Republicans are the not the party of a decaying, old, static, industrial-age, top-down government in Washington. We are the communications-age party of genuinely democratic, dynamic government — of, for, and by real people. We want to get money and power out of Washington and into the hands of the people — not because we want no government, but because we believe people who live in liberty create the best government when they are trusted to govern themselves. … Fellow conservatives, let’s learn to say it: We need more government, lots of it, but we need the kind that actually works: Bottom-up self-government by a mature people. And we need that government in our hands — because it is not natural, efficient, or beneficial to leave something so powerful in the hands of anyone else.’
Now, look, folks, this is very seductive because who can disagree with this? But it’s using the word government here, he’s trying to give us a way to convince liberals to join us or to keep recalcitrant conservatives with us, but it’s sort of like our side’s way to proceed on global warming. Okay, let’s just accept the premise, there is global warming, manmade global warming, but we’ve got to come up with solutions here that don’t cost us as much money as what the liberals are going to do. Now, what’s happening is that, frankly, the lesser lights out there on our side are trying to rewrite natural law. That is, our principles. They are trying to become this modern equivalent of philosopher kings. Their agenda is very different from ours. We’re advocating the principles of our founding, which are the principles of human nature, natural law. That’s the brilliance of our founding, human nature as created by God. All these new philosopher kings on our side are not doing this. They’re not only using the language of the left, they are ceding the principles, too. I don’t know that they know that they’re doing this, but they are. We’re not against government, he says. Of course we are against government if the government doesn’t operate within its limits.
We don’t exist for government; it exists for us. And yet we got people on our side, government is this great thing. The government’s become the shining city on the hill. The government is not the country. It’s the people who make the country work. There are things we can like about the government, things we don’t like about it. It all depends on whether the government’s authority actually exists or whether it has been exercised improperly. Not a word about the Constitution from any of these people that are writing these theories and philosophies on how to win, which reveals the heart of the problem. They’ve given up on the Constitution or they ignore it, as the left usually does. Or they invoke it when it serves some political end. But this is just semantic BS. It’s like Mr. Castellanos is advocating conservatism but recommending we call it freedom and individual responsibility. Government, so we can fool the voters with a semantic ruse that we really favor government, too. He wants us, with this piece, to go out and tell liberals, ‘Hey no, no, no, we love government, too. We don’t hate government like you think. We love government.’ So you have to accept their premise, yes, we love government, but we think the government ought to be bottom up. Why don’t you just go out and say screw this brand search, let’s just get back to conservatism. It will solve most of this.