The Republican Embrace of the Welfare State

AndyMcCarthyby Andrew C. McCarthy
The establishment GOP has accepted progressivism’s central premise.  •  Charles Krauthammer has come to my rescue. You see, I’ve been on the receiving end of some spirited reaction since asserting in last weekend’s column that what we commonly call the Republican establishment — i.e., not all individual Republicans but GOP leadership — “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.” The statement may have been provocative in the sense of expressing a truth that people on the political Right prefer not to talk about. But it was not controversial because it is indisputably true.[pullquote]Government, to the contrary, is a poor delivery system for social welfare because redistributions of wealth determined by politicians using the compulsory force of law are inevitably made based on political considerations — buying votes — rather than need.[/pullquote]

This week, Dr. Krauthammer, Washington’s most influential expositor of mainstream GOP thought, obligingly spared me the need to prove my point. He gave as clear an account of the modern Republican conception of “conservatism” as you will find. Fittingly, he did it on the program of progressive commentator and comedian Jon Stewart. Today’s smartest Republicans, self-aware enough to know their core views deviate significantly from those of conservatives in the tradition of Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan, are more likely to say what they think to Jon Stewart. His audience is apt to be receptive, maybe even won over, by a mature progressivism portrayed as what conservatives really think. It is not likely to go over as well with, say, readers of National Review.

Stewart claimed that conservatives are anti-government. Initially, Krauthammer appeared to reject this caricature, replying, “The conservative idea is not that government has no role.” But, alas, when he got around to what the proper role of government is, Krauthammer sounded more like Stewart than Buckley.

To begin with, he largely buys the caricature. It would have been credible, he told Stewart, to have argued that conservatives were anti-government “in the Thirties, when conservatives opposed the New Deal.” More » [external link] • (1036 views)

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4 Responses to The Republican Embrace of the Welfare State

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    What can I say? Andy McCarthy rocks. Those who are confused about what conservatism is should read this article. Remember it. Study it as a young Jedi wannabe would study under Master Yoda.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Krauthammer used to be a liberal, but learned better. He also operates within the Beltway, and thus imbibes its basic viewpoint People like that tend not to be very libertarian in their views. We should certainly accept them as allies, as long as we realize that if by some miracle we ever were able to start shifting the Overton window steadily rightward, they’d want to stop the shifting well before we would. But that doesn’t matter until we reach that point, and I don’t know if anyone here ever expects that to happen.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The problem is, Tim, Krauthammer is not an ally. He’s the exact opposite. And that’s what Andy is pointing out. That’s the point of his entire article.

      And here’s another great bit from that article. I know I’m stretching fair use, if only so that someone at NRO will contact me so that I can work out some way to repost some of this stuff. I don’t mind at all giving what little traffic I can to actual conservative columnists at NRO, as few as they are these days:

      The New Deal and its Great Society successor programs, by contrast, are frauds designed to create permanent dependency on government (and fealty to the party of government). They pretend to be insurance programs, not for the destitute but for all Americans, who pay “contributions” and “premiums” into “trust funds” and derive an “entitlement” to “benefits.” By loading everyone onto the gravy train, even if that meant the poor and middle class would subsidize the rich and near rich, progressives hoped to ensure that no one would object to the arrangement — people would just expect to get theirs in due course.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One more quote from Andy. And this one is just killer:

    And even if these worsening problems could be remedied, the federal welfare state’s central flaw is incorrigible: In the absence of any constitutional grounding, supporters contend that retirement insurance and health care are fundamental rights that the central government must guarantee, not commodities subject to the assumptions of ordinary commerce (i.e., individual choice, controlled by one’s personal resources and priorities). Inexorably, this results in the one-way political ratchet that plagues all redistributionist schemes: Our permanent political class’s sustaining itself by promising more benefits to ever more people and demagoguing all who resist or attempt even the slightest reforms.

    Ladies and gentleman, as I’ve been saying with other words (all truth tends to converge on the same point), socialism corrupts both government and the people. And Andy pretty much succinctly states how and why.

    Note that Jonah Goldberg denied this one-way ratchet and thus put himself outside of conservative thought. Where he is going to, who knows? But Andy remains a rock in a figurative storm of illogical, prevarication, caving, and outright intellectual dishonesty.

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