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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Wolfe on Conservatism and Incompetence

As conservatives try to disassociate themselves from the ongoing disaster of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress, and progressives argue whether incompetence and corruption or ideology is the right target for their critique of the GOP, Alan Wolfe offers a typically brilliant analysis of the situation in the latest Washington Monthly. Today’s Republicans are authentically conservative, he says, and their ideology virtually guarantees incompetence and corruption. You really, really should read the entire essay, but here’s a sample:

Contemporary conservatism is a walking contradiction. Unable to shrink government but unwilling to improve it, conservatives attempt to split the difference, expanding government for political gain, but always in ways that validate their disregard for the very thing they are expanding. The end result is not just bigger government, but more incompetent government.

I’ve agreed with Wolfe’s point of view for a long time, having watched conservatives from the Reagan administration on, in Washington and in many states, turn government agencies they don’t have the guts to abolish into pork machines and jobs programs, precisely because it’s the only useful thing they can imagine using them for. When combined with tax-cutting mania and the opportunity to serve up vast corporate subsidies–another way to bribe voters and campaign contributors, while offering the illusion that government will someday have to shrink–it offers conservative politicians the equivalent of a bottomless crack pipe. But eventually, the chickens come home to roost with the consequences of misgovernment, and that’s what is happening right now.

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