Michael Gerson on the Radicalism of Today’s “Conservatives”
I really can’t believe I’m writing this, but Michael Gerson hits the nail on the head this morning. Stopped clock, blind squirrel, etc., etc.
All those few, however, seemed to be in attendance at CPAC, determined to sharpen an ideological debate. In the name of constitutional purity, they propose a great undoing. Not just the undoing of Obamaism. Undo Medicare and Social Security. Undo the expansive American global commitments that proceeded from World War II and the Cold War. Undo progressive-era economic regulations. Undo the executive power grab that preserved the union. Undo it all — until America is left with a government appropriate to an isolated, 18th-century farming republic.
This is a proposal for time travel, not a policy agenda. The federal government could not shed these accumulated responsibilities without massive suffering and global instability — a decidedly radical, unconservative approach to governing.
Exactly. They are radicals. But this is exactly where the right is today — and not just the CPAC teabaggers.
Look at Paul Ryan’s plan to scrap Social Security and Medicare. Listen to Jim DeMint at CPAC, suggesting that the federal income tax is unconstitutional. Listen to Mike Huckabee, calling for the United States to withdraw from the UN. Look at Steve King’s efforts to repeal labor laws like Davis-Bacon. Consider the right’s decidedly unconstitutional zeal for torture. And remember, the John Birch Society was one of the sponsors of CPAC this year.
These aren’t fringe players in the Republican Party — they’re its leaders. And it’s a scandal that the national media still treat these people like they’re perfectly reasonable, responsible members of the opposition.