A few weeks ago at Next Right, Josh Kahn pointed to polling data showing that
. The public isn't buying what the Republicans are selling.
Take, for example, that old standby of conservatives: denouncing Big Government. Last week John McCain’s economic spokesman claimed that Barack Obama is President Bush’s true fiscal heir, because he’s “dedicated to the recent Bush tradition of spending money on everything.” ... the McCain campaign is deluding itself if it thinks this issue will resonate with the public.
For Americans have never disliked Big Government in general. In fact, they love Social Security and Medicare, and strongly approve of Medicaid — which means that the three big programs that dominate domestic spending have overwhelming public support.
This is an important, and painful, point for the Right. Americans, as the old saying goes, are philosophically conservative, but operationally liberal.
In part, Republicans haven't been able to get traction on enacting limited government ideas because Republicans have never come up with politically viable ways to limit government - and particularly to address the underlying public choice incentives that make the growth of government Reagan entered office in 1980 promising to eliminate the Department of Education. But there was never a politically viable way to do that...so the Department of Education grew.
Republicans need to step back a few paces from the big limited government goals and start thinking first about the underlying incentives - the structural, public choice problems that make limiting government such a hard sell. These may be difficult, but they are a much more practical way of rebuilding the Republican brand and making the Republican Party relevant to modern problems. Some initial opportunities...
- Ethics reform
- Government accounting reform
- Entitlement reform - safety nets, not massive redistribution programs
- Tax reform - reduce perverse incentives, rather than merely cutting taxes
- Regulatory reform - elimination of regulatory capture that produces monopolistic practices and government-created cartels
What are your suggestions?