Are Conservatives Dissatisfied Because We Don't Have A Candidate Opposing the Administrative State?
As I read the many posts on Ricochet either for or against Mitt Romney, I have been asking myself how I could have enthusiastically supported Romney as a Conservative against John McCain in 2008 and have little enthusiasm for his candidacy this year. What has changed?
At least two significant things: the election of a president and Congress with a very Progressive agenda in 2008, and the implosion of the entitlement administrative State in the Euro zone. We now have real world data on the failure of the Progressive agenda based on Europe, and we have a political party in America that is trying to implement that same failed agenda here. In addition, they seem to have the political momentum. Over two years ago, Professor Paul Rahe said that the election of President Obama was a gift to the friends of liberty. He said that Obama had pulled off the covers of the tyrannical impulses that lie at the heart of the administrative state and made them visible with the legislation he passed and the way in which he governed. Our personal liberty was being sucked away with each new law and regulation.
As I listened to Peter Robinson’s latest interview with Professor Rahe on Uncommon Knowledge, I had several “aha” moments. Peter recently visited Hillsdale College and gave a speech on Ronald Reagan. Professor Rahe said the thing that struck him about Peter’s speech was that Reagan was always returning to first principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in making his points and that no one in the current Republican field was doing that. He also described Republicans as the “sober managers of the welfare administrative state” and the Democrats as the “crazy managers of the welfare administrative state”.
I listened to the podcast several times, and said to myself “That’s it!”. I’m not convinced that Romney wants to stop the advance of the entitlement administrative state, but that he will simply try to manage it better, and that isn’t really what we need at this time.
In William Voegeli’s excellent book Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State he makes the case that there is never “enough” to the Progressive’s agenda. Personally, I wanted a candidate who said “This is enough! This is not working, it cannot work, and it is not sustainable. We are going to start dismantling the welfare entitlement state in a cost effective and humane way. We will govern by returning government to the first principles of the Declaration and the Constitution.”
I realize that we did not get where we are overnight. It will take many years to reverse the path that we have been on. But I wanted a Republican candidate who would start this process and could eloquently make the case for it. We don't seem to have one. But if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee, I will support him enthusiastically. The alternative of a re-elected President Obama is too depressing to contemplate.
Does this explain anyone else’s dissatisfaction with Romney’s candidacy? Is it because he is trying simply to deal only with the symptoms of the disease rather than the cause? Is Professor Rahe correct that “the friends of liberty are not up to the job”? What do you think?