Saturday, October 1


A young staff writer at the Weekly Standardwrites that since the 1994 Contract With America that ushered in the decade-long Republican Congressional majority, the GOP has spouted the "warts of power."

It's quite a fall, no doubt about it: from agile insurgency to bloated establishment in just over a decade.

So what went wrong?

The K Street Project was a means to an end. The means was harnessing the political energies of the private sector and its agents. The end was a lasting Republican majority that would limit government and increase individual freedom and responsibility. But, as tends to happen, the means became an end in itself.

Young conservatives in particular will react to the new, post-DeLay reality in different ways. I know I have. First, looking at your party's troubles, you see perverse confirmation of conservatism's animating idea: that as the sphere of public decision-making expands, so do the opportunities for graft and wrongdoing. Next you note, with sadness, that while political power helped bring about some achievements - welfare reform, pro-growth tax cuts, an assertive, moralistic foreign policy - it may have also exhausted conservatism's fighting spirit, lowered the movement's intellectual standards and replaced a healthy independence with partisan water-carrying.

But then you take solace in the idea that the Republican Party has once again bested the Democrats, who after all took 40 years to sprout the warts of power.

Personally, I take "solace" in the fact that it is the Democrats' own, more robust, proclivity for "healthy independence," our pro-individual and pro-human and civil rights positions, and our progressive agenda that makes us 75% more likely to avoid graft and corruption than the Republicans. Their unhealthy adulation of the fabulously wealthy and well-connected, their hunger to please that constituency and thus join the fraternity, and their fear and loathing of anyone outside their own circle of the like-minded, create a natural cesspool of their own making.


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