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Old Aug 30th, 2012, 02:47 AM   #1
Max E. Pad
 
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 7,905
Best Article I have read about this election in a long time.

George Will: Conservative voters, are you bluffing or for real?

WASHINGTON -- Now begins the final phase of this cognitive dissonance campaign. America’s 57th presidential election is the first devoted to calling the nation’s bluff. When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan, Republicans undertook the perilous but commendable project of forcing voters to face that they hold flatly incompatible beliefs.

Twice as many Americans identify themselves as conservative as liberal. Nov. 6 we will know if they mean it. This is the problem for uneasy Republicans. The Democrats’ problem is worse because they are not uneasy about their dissonance, being blissfully unaware of it.

In “Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic,” Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard says the party has succumbed to “clientelism,” the process of purchasing cohorts of voters with federal favors. This has turned the party into the servant of the strong.

Before Franklin Roosevelt, “liberal” described policies emphasizing liberty and individual rights. He pioneered the politics of collective rights — of group entitlements. And his liberalism developed policies not just to buy the allegiance of existing groups but to create groups that would be dependent on government.

Under FDR, liberalism became the politics of creating an electoral majority from a mosaic of client groups. Labor unions got special legal standing, farmers got crop supports, business people got tariff protection and other subsidies, the elderly got pensions, and so on and on.

Government no longer existed to protect natural rights but to confer special rights on favored cohorts. As Irving Kristol said, the New Deal preached not equal rights for all but equal privileges for all to become wards of the government.

In the 1960s, public-employee unions were expanded to feast from quantitative liberalism (favors measured in quantities of money). And qualitative liberalism was born as environmentalists, feminists and others got government to regulate behavior in the service of social “diversity,” “meaningful” work, etc. Cost notes that with the 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act, a few government-approved minorities were given an entitlement to public offices: About 40 “majority-minority” congressional districts would be guaranteed to elect minority members.

Walter Mondale, conceding to Ronald Reagan after the 1984 election, listed the groups he thought government should assist: “the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the handicapped, the helpless and the sad.” Yes, the sad.

Republicans also practice clientelism, but with a (sometimes) uneasy conscience. Both parties have narrowed their appeals as they have broadened their search for clients to cosset. Today’s Democratic Party does not understand what one of its saints understood — that big government is generally a patron of the privileged, a partner of rent-seekers.

When vetoing the 1832 bill to recharter the Second Bank of the United States, Andrew Jackson said, “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” As Cost rightly says, “With the exception of the tea party, there is no real faction out there making the Jacksonian case for an end to special privilege.”

Human beings, said one of the wisest of them — Aristotle — are political animals and language-using animals. Americans are complaining animals. They use language to complain about politics. Mitt Romney should remind them that one function of elections is to force most voters — the winning majorities — to forfeit the fun of complaining. For example, if the swing state of Nevada, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate (12 percent), votes for four more years of current policies, it must henceforth suffer in silence. Actually, all those who vote to continue Barack Obama’s distinctive brand of clientelism — crony capitalism — must, if he wins, become political Trappists, taking a vow to keep quiet.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/08/29...#storylink=cpy
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