When I write “they just don’t know” I am referring to liberals’ knowledge of the American right. They create caricatures that bear little resemblance to the truth. The same is not true for me as regards them. I know liberals very well. Anyone who has attended high school or college in the last 60 years has learned the liberal catechism by heart. Those institutions are wholly owned subsidiaries of the political left, which includes the Democratic Party, labor unions, the main stream media, and for at least 50 years, mainline Protestant churches.
The first thing people should know about conservatives and/or libertarians is that they are not monolithic. What most liberals think of when the word conservative is mentioned is Fox News, talk radio, The Weekly Standard, or National Review, all of which are neo-conservative, like most Republican office holders on the national level. In fact, with few exceptions such as Ron Paul and his son Rand, most Republican office holders are not conservative at all and never have been, even the sainted Ronald Reagan, whose administration neocons invoke regularly as a time of great conservative leadership, which it wasn’t.
Promising to balance the budget and eliminate three cabinet departments (Commerce, Education, and Energy), Ronald Reagan eliminated little or nothing and spent like most of his predecessors in both parties, leaving huge deficits when he left office. During his tenure the percentage of GDP taken by government spending was very much like the Democrats. In fact in some instances it was more. I recommend David Stockman’s recently published book, The Great Deformation, which is full of facts and figures and supports the proposition that when it comes to government spending and government growth, there is not much difference between the parties.
Rhetoric aside, elected Republicans like big government as much as elected Democrats like Wall Street. Republicans rail against wasteful government spending and Democrats regularly excoriate Wall Street, but both are up to their necks in largesse from each. Goldman Sachs is well represented in Democratic administrations. Think Robert Rubin. Democrats John Corzine, Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner also come from Wall Street and the financial regulatory world.
Proof of that presents itself when one considers the number of Wall Street crooks who have been prosecuted by Eric Holder’s Justice Department in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Try none. The people packaging bad mortgages into derivatives and other questionable investment devices have skated, many with their big bonuses untouched. Again I recommend David Stockman’s book, which details the whole disgraceful mess.
On the other hand, right of center groups such as the Tea Party genuinely favor small government and limited government spending and for this are despised by the Republican establishment. Senator Rand Paul was elected to the US Senate from Kentucky in spite of opposition from Mitch McConnell and other Kentucky Republican establishment apparatchiks. As I write K Street Republican lobbyists, Republican campaign consultants, US Chamber of Commerce operatives, and other moderate (RINO) Republicans conspire to undermine the Tea Party.
Another liberal notion is that corporate leaders favor Republicans. In fact, they give to both parties, and many of them are just fine with big government, in some cases the bigger the better. Think of rent seekers and crony capitalists like GE’s Jeffrey Immelt. Also in this liberal big business corporate group are CEO’s from Starbucks, Apple, and Amazon. Multi-billionaire Bill Gates regularly contributes to liberal causes.
On the right, there is a segment of American political conservative thought about which the political left knows little. This is the paleoconservative right, more in tune with Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk than with the neocons who now dominate Republican politics. They are nothing like big government, pro intervention Republicans such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who never see a crisis that doesn’t require US troops. Right now both are giddy over the turmoil in Ukraine. They long for the Cold War. Their foreign and national security policy is like Democrat President Woodrow Wilson’s “make the world safe for democracy” neo imperialism.
Recommended reading for any liberal (or anyone else) who wishes to learn more about paleos and libertarians includes lewrockwell.com and the magazines The American Conservative, Chronicles, and Reason.
When liberals go on and on about Republican parsimony as regards government spending, I say to myself, “If it were only so.”
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Stumptalk is published weekly in the Crossville Chronicle. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. To contact Stumptalk, email coordinator Jim Sykes at firstname.lastname@example.org.