Monday, March 02, 2009

Not Impressed With The Opposition

I was gonna post this last week, but never got around to finishing it and my lead in says it all. As bailouts and stimulus packages become the law of the land, I've been terribly unimpressed with the opposition to President's Obama economic agenda and more specifically, I've been unimpressed with the Republicans and the conservative media. At a point in history where Republicans have an opportunity to reclaim a powerful ideological banner, they've chosen instead to play politics. And where conservative media has had a chance to become beacons of freedom, they've instead chosen the role of liberal attacks dogs.

I didn't actually see Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's address, but in reading the transcript it seems clear to me that the response was merely Obama's talking points, met one-by-one by Republican talking points. And I don't want to hear that this is what politics is and always has been- Just go and read a Barry Goldwater or a Ronald Reagan speech and the difference between talking points and ideas should be a little more clear to you. Much like so much of what we see in the media today, these sorts of speeches have become echo chambers for same-thinking people, but unlike the Democrats who have a semblance of ideological cohesion, the Republicans don't have any sort of a record to stand on. You can't promise to return to decades old principles without clearly and confidently laying out what those principles actually are.

Bobby Jindal, at the very least, doesn't have the taint of being a Republican Congressmen in the Bush administration all over him. It's nice to see some Republicans finally standing up for their "principles" in opposing much President Obama's economic agenda, but where the hell have they been for 8 years. As I said, for my money, it reeks more of political opportunism than principled opposition.

Even more disappointing is what I've heard from conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh in particular. My relationship with talk radio strained over the past few years over the ramping up of illegal immigration rhetoric and the failure to deal with the war on terror on anything more than a superficial level, but this past month or so has been even worse. With the opportunity to provide real intellectual opposition to a President who's policies lack any ideological meat, talk radio has resorted to mere name-calling. When I should be hearing about the benefits of free markets and limited government, I'm still hearing about Obama's socialist past as a community organizer, Bill Ayers, and Jeremiah Wright.

The truth is, it doesn't matter whether President Obama is guided by a radical socialist ideology (as those on talk radio assert) or whether he's providing similar pragmatic big government solutions that we may have still seen if John McCain was elected (as I'd argue). What matters are the reasons why these policies should be opposed and despite the number of people who do oppose this agenda, I have a growing sense that those people have increasingly fewer people to speak for them. It shouldn't be difficult, but maybe it's just part and parcel of the dumbing down of politics, where pointing fingers at the Democrats is easier and makes for better ratings than real political discourse. What troubles me is that a non-ideological, non-intellectual approach can't possibly best the purveyors of big government and good feelings in the court of public opinion.


Anonymous rose said...

De-regulation and "laissez-faire capitalism" are so widely accepted as the cause of the crisis. McCain's complete inability to articulate the real root causes of the crisis allowed the democrats to win the argument so decisively. I like McCain as you know, but wow was he pathetic on the economy. The conversation is over. "The small-government ideologues allowed the greedy bankers to destroy the US."

That lie is so widely accepted and there is no possibility of re-starting the convo. McCain lost the argument. Its like the New Deal. If myth is repeated often enough and articulately enough, it is truth and you can't go back and convince people otherwise regardless of the evidence.

It makes it really hard (not impossible) to take the kind of stance you want w/ out sounding like the same old "failed" stuff.

I wonder if the blame-game convo would've ended the same way if Mitt Romney was the nominee debating Barack Obama.

1:50 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Rose, great point on the Great Depression. This is an argument that the left has won and you can't fight the common public perception just by saying that it isn't so.

In the midst of this economic crisis you can't take the intellectual low road to defend free market capitalism because that's going to win you exactly zero converts.

2:24 PM  

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