There Is No Place

Watching the cataclysmic response to Governor Jindal’s rebuttal to President Obama reminds me of a concept that I think could not be more clear today.

One of my favorite weekly indulgences is NPR’s “The Jefferson Hour,” where Clay Jenkinson spends the first half of the hour portraying our third president, and the second half hour answering questions as a Jeffersonian scholar.

Clay tends not to get down into the weeds when it comes to contemporary politics, often times emanating an almost coy ideological make-up, but yesterday he said something that struck me as quite remarkable–that there is no place in today’s political world for Jefferson, that there is no room for strict libertarianism.

Now, I tend to disagree, more out of sentiment than out of any kind of rational context–when we look at the broad spectrum that fits under the term conservative, I tend to think of at least one or two factions of libertarians as being perhaps the only sane “conservatives” in existence.

However, I think it’s important to look at the rhetoric coming out of the Republican party right now, and how much of it is a firebrand populist type of conservatism that on many facets can be said to be masquerading as libertarianism; this general Reagan-esque concept that government is the problem.

At a time when most sane political observers believe that the Republican party needs to break from the past twenty or thirty years and let go of the dogma that has developed since, it has become clear through the rise of such stars as Palin, Jindal, and Wurzelbacher, that it is for the time being choosing to do the exact opposite, crystalizing the rhetoric of Reagan and attempting to carve out a winning political strategy by pitting the people against the government.

The problem with this is that that is not where the rest of America is. We are faced with problems that go far beyond any one private entity, and indeed it is important to note that the kinds of private enterprises that anti-government crusaders would look to as a proxy for government are themselves suffering and becoming the pariahs of public opinion. The sheer enormity of the economic collapse not to mention the foreign policy challenges that face us that have taken back stage for the moment are of the magnitude that should be dealt with by the government, and the American people know and believe this.

They don’t expect government to get out of the way so that private enterprise can fix the problem; they expect government to fix the problems caused by private enterprises. For as long as Republicans continue to adopt a message that is counter-intuitive to this truth of the here and now, they will continue to spend that time shouting their message from a much deserved wilderness.

2 Responses to “There Is No Place”

  1. radical_Moderate says:

    Jindal sucked, and Obama soared. The Repugs are already screaming “socialism” at the top of their lungs vis a vis Obama’s speeech, but the fact is that the Republican party has run out of ideas: MORE tax cuts to the rich? Been there, done that, and it didn’t help. LESS Government? Ditto. I am all for a strong opposition party, BUT the GOP keeps singing the same tired old tune, no matter the circumstances. Pity that there isn’t some strong third Political Party waiting in the wings….

  2. Yeah, I’m going to write on that in a few minutes, methinks.

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