July 5, 2004


Alan Sullivan writes:

Opinion Journal is worrying about how Republicans are spending like Democrats. Any party in power is the party of big government. The only curb is frequent change in rulership. But this is no time to be switching. The opposition has staked its policy ground: multilateralism abroad and discreet collectivism at home. As usual, the electorate is asked to choose between bad and worse.
Any party in power is the party of big government. I think he's about right. But, from my musings on the 70-Year Cycle, I would tend to say that the party in power is the party of active government. Active in solving problems.

Right now the Democrats are still the party of bigger gov. But they are pretty much stymied when it comes to solving problems. They've "shot their wad," they've solved the problems (or at least fussed with them endlessly) that they were brought into power to solve, and the ones most urgent now are precisely those they can't tackle, because doing so would harm part of their coalition.

And the Republicans are being pulled into majority status because they are free to come to grips with exactly those pressing matters.

And I'm coming to think active government is inevitable, that it's what the people want. That the philosophical position of "small government" will always be a critique coming from a minority. We Americans think of our government as us, and we are no more comfortable with leaving problems alone than we are with letting our front yards turn into weed-patches.

Which is why I think Bush's emphasis on choice is very important. Government isn't going to get out of things like medical care, education, retirement, and a lot of other social-safety-net stuff. It just isn't going to happen. My preference is for smaller government, but it just isn't on the menu. So the next-best thing is to take the decision-making in government programs out of the hands of bureaucrats, and give it to the people.

I hope and pray that, after November, when a mighty victory has replenished his reserves of political capital, the President brings out the really big guns to push his various choice-based proposals.

Posted by John Weidner at July 5, 2004 2:36 PM
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