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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

 A 24 year record of conservatism

Nice analysis from Richard at Dispatches:

Here is an interesting statement from Thomas Oliphant. The op-ed piece is about the Specter controversy going on, but within it he makes this statement that really jumped out at me:
It's important to see all this through the right's lens. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980; since then, conservatives have been president 16 of 24 years; the party has held the Senate for 16 different years and directly controlled the House for 10 and had effective control of the floor for two more (1981-82).

From one Christian conservative perspective, during this period there have been more than 25 million abortions, gay rights have advanced rapidly, family structures have come under cultural assault, pornography has become an industry, and Hollywood continues to undermine parents' authority.

Other conservatives note that the federal government has expanded instead of shrunk, its spending has not been restrained, its direct influence over public schools has increased, and entitlement programs have been added. Many conservatives see the Republican Party as successful at running campaigns and winning elections, but they wonder if their standard-bearers and strategists (right now that means George Bush and Karl Rove) have any interest in actually changing things.

One could easily add to this analysis that during the 8 years in this time period that the Republicans did not control the White House, they had a President in Clinton who signed several major pieces of legislation that had long been part of the Republican agenda and that were opposed primarily by Democrats - NAFTA, GATT, welfare reform, the Telecom bill, deregulation of the financial industry. The irony is that Clinton's agenda on these matters was more consistently conservative than Bush's agenda. Clinton was pro-free trade; Bush has imposed tarrifs in several industries. Clinton pushed through deregulation bills; Bush pushed through the first major new entitlement program, to the tune of some $500 billion, since the Great Society of the 1960s. Clinton made it a major priority to balance the budget and did so; Bush brought back record deficits.

The irony of all this is that in controlling government for most of the last 24 years, the alleged party of 'smaller government' has overseen a spectacular growth in government on virtually every front. And despite their heated rhetoric on issues like abortion, pornography and gay rights, their followers have more to hate in our culture today than they did in 1980. Their rhetoric clearly does not match reality, and I suspect that rank and file social conservatives have to be getting a little frustrated over it. How long can this charade continue?


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