The conservative writer Steve Hayward says that both the Left and the Right have to reform. Here’s what he says is one of the problems with the GOP and its supporters:
By allowing their well-reasoned and often well-founded critiques of government action to metastasize into a categorical rejection of all prospective government action, while continuing to deny the basic political economy of the welfare state, conservatives increasingly find themselves in an ideological and practical straightjacket. Where conservatives have succeeded in cutting government, they have done so by taking an indiscriminate fire ax to non-defense discretionary spending. Meanwhile, they have had virtually no success at all in cutting middle-class entitlements, which represent the lion’s share of federal spending and continue their unrestrained growth. This kind of conservatism would be unrecognizable to, for example, Calvin Coolidge, a current sentimental conservative favorite who favored minimum wage laws and child labor regulations, or even to Reagan, who favored large-scale government science research beyond just missile defense.
In their current incarnations, both conservatism and liberalism are failing — not just because of poor strategies like starve-the-beast — but also because neither movement has properly adapted to the changing fabric of modern society. Given this, when there is bipartisan compromise between two outdated ideological camps it is usually unsatisfying to almost everyone. The lesson we should draw is that before the two camps can agree to an agenda truly in the national interest, liberals and conservatives must first reform themselves.
There’s too much good stuff in this essay to excerpt. I especially liked how Hayward said it’s past time for conservatives to understand that their strategy of reducing government spending through lowering revenues (via lower taxes) does not work. The American people would rather put what they want on the national credit card, resulting in a highly unconservative, and indeed immoral, offloading of the costs of government today on future generations. Hayward says if conservatives really want to reduce government spending, they should insist that the people pay for the government they want. Because most people won’t accept taxes at the levels needed to afford the size of government they want, they’ll support cutting spending.