Sunday, March 07, 2021

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Michael Strain at National Review is correct here that conservatives should regain their focus on fiscal issues rather than the symbolic, often unimportant cultural ones like Dr. Seuss. It is entirely fair to point out that they have given this away in the last few years, and regaining credibility will not be easy.


james said...

Is the conservative project only about fiscal matters (which almost nobody in DC has cared about for decades)? If this is a "tribal war" there are lots of different aspects to the conflict.

But it is certainly true that debt will destroy us--first slowly, then suddenly.

Christopher B said...

I think it was Jonah Goldberg many years ago who pointed out that people who claim to be 'socially liberal, fiscally conservative' never vote based on their supposed fiscal conservativism. It is sufficient for them to keep the GOP chasing their 'fiscal conservative' vote because that restrains Democrat spending mildly and keeps their taxes as low without actually letting Republicans get control. The rest of the Republican coalition has figured this out, and is not going down that road again. While you can argue this isn't a good thing, as james points out, in electoral terms it's unlikely to change until it's a crisis.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Fair. There are many other issues, some of which might be even more important than the economic ones. Yet this has been one of the unifying, when-all-else-fails issues for the Right, which has pissed it away under Trump.

random observer said...

How well has it actually worked for the American right, whether in terms of building a winning coalition, or actually achieving something fiscally conservative, at least at the federal level?

It looks more like it pushed the right down a path in which it had a mantra that was solid, real, and vital to national health, but which was unattainable, alienated large segments of once reachable constituencies, and eventually seemed both niche and hypocritical.

I'm not unsympathetic, but it seems like fiscal-only is the creed the right should adopt only after it accepts that it no longer has anything else to say to the nation it still purports to connect to.

Canada's conservatives are already in this mindspace. I think they have no future.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

National Review has a long history of pointing out that all this stop-spending rhetoric only results in doing liberal things at a reduced cost.

Texan99 said...

I don't want to see the financial system go full Zimbabwe/Weimar, but I have to say that I'm never going to become indifferent to basic civil rights, such as freedom of speech. I'm not even sure that the misery that comes from economic derangement is greater than that of letting a government invade the properly personal or family sphere.

Cranberry said...

Freedom of speech is essential. Cancel culture is poisonous.

I would say that the cultural issues are more important than the fiscal issues. Cancel culture is creeping despotism by the unhinged.

It is innately conservative to speak up when something valuable is removed from the marketplace. I approve of fiscal restraint, but it's a negative restraint--don't sign up for lots of new spending. In comparison, if you don't speak up when Dr. Seuss is removed from the shelves, you give up the right to free speech.

It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Very interesting that my commenters here are pro cultural involvement, even over smaller things.

jaed said...

Mmm... spending like a drunken sailor is irresponsible and will end badly.

Censorship, like any forcing of the conscience, is an abomination.

You can probably tell from the way I frame that which I consider more important; in fact, I don't think they can reasonably be measured on the same scale. A party that concentrates on the first while saying "Pish tosh, so silly!" to the second is straining at gnats and swallowing camelsA

Cranberry said...

I agree with Jaed. Unrestrained spending is a Bad Idea; the consequences come to everyone in time. (This is a "God of the Copybook Headings" thing.)

Bush the younger was a big-government president, Trump as well. Which Republican presidents last shrank the federal budget? Is there any evidence of fiscal prudence on the part of the national party in the last 50 years? In action, that is, not in campaign promises.

On a state level, there are certainly differences, by state party, and it does seem that red states are more sensible about public spending. People are moving from profligate states to more sensible states (consequences), for one thing, the more sensible states have more appealing economies.

It is hilarious that David Hogg thought California too expensive to start a company.

I don't agree with tearing down the past. Raising children in ignorance ends badly. The French Revolution didn't manage to establish the month of Thermidore. Likewise, there are few children's books that can compare to Dr. Seuss's books.

Playing along with the Cancel Game is a Bad Idea, particularly on the part of people who own intellectual property. If the Seuss estate can't bear to publish certain books, fine...release their copyrights into the public realm.

The assertion that "conservatives" should care about fiscal prudence to the exclusion of intellectual concerns is hollow. "Oh, look, we cut the highway paving budget, therefore you can't complain if someone stole the family silver" doesn't wash.