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Opening Arguments

In the moment

The advocates of Big Government have pushed things too far, and it's started to scare people, which is what gave rise to the Tea Party movement. Those folks have managed to do in a year what my friends in the Libertarian Party haven't been able to do in two decades, which is to get the attention of those in power by changing the nature of the conversation. And that has brought us to this moment of clarity, when we can all see what the stakes are and choose sides for the battle.

Here is the Mount Vernon Statement, a call to "Constitutional Conservatism" endorsed by just about every conservative organization in the country:

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding.  Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

[. . .]

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government's powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America's safety and leadership role in the world.
That is conservatism with a strong dose of libertarianism, which seems to me the perfect mix for the times. And for those who haven't been paying attention, the Tea Party movement, though attracting people with a social-conservative agenda, has really focused most on restraining the federal government's power and reach.
I know, I know, political philosophies wax and wane, and I'm in danger of thinking something temporary is really a permanent electoral realignment and ending up looking as silly as Democrats who proclaimed a new liberal era with Obama's election. But let me stay in the bubble and enjoy the euphoria a little while.


Thu, 02/18/2010 - 11:05am

Permit me to be skeptical. They didn't get upset enough to get off their couches through 8 years of Bush-led deficit spending, expansion of Medicare, increased military adventurism, or warrantless wiretaps, to name a few.

So it doesn't seem to be "Big Government" that upsets them. It's Big Government *by Democrats* that really pisses them off. Witness the resurgence of the Black Helicopter/militia crowd that was largely silent during Republican dominance of the federal government. The John Birch Society seems to get stronger every time the Republicans have a down year electorally. And, while I don't think it's the primary reason, the fact that Obama is black can't be sitting well with everyone, particularly in GOP strongholds in the Old Confederacy.

Tim Zank
Thu, 02/18/2010 - 11:33am

Jebus, again with the "the fact that Obama is black can

Thu, 02/18/2010 - 1:06pm

It'll keep coming up as long as the base of his opposition seems to have its center among old, white southerners. When that demographic becomes incidental to the opposition, I suppose the meme will fade in proportion.