Monday, April 03, 2006

"Mainstream conservatives", pt 3

Ok, then if we allow that the conservative grassroots are supposed to be mobilized for something, what exactly is it they should be mobilized for? Immigration is an obvious choice, but I suggest a revolt over the size and scope of government might be appropriate as well. In NFL draft terms, this is a "need" area. The GOP has lost almost all credibility not just with its own base but also with the public at large.

The recent furor over the "bridge to nowhere" illustrates that that the Congressional cultural proclivity towards wasteful spending is strong enough to withstand a fair bit of light. There ought to be a threefold challenge to it, consisting of: 1. A take no prisoners elimination of elimination of earmarks, bridges-to-nowhere, skateboard museums, etc. 2. Substantial cuts in one of the real money hogs, like NIH, Medicaid, student loans, etc. 3. Appropriations process reform, repealing parts of the Budget Act of 1974, leaving a much more conservative budget process.

The point being is that each front needs to be attacked simultaneously. #1 is exhilarating, (though surprisingly difficult to pull off) but doesn't save that much money. #2 does, but taken by itself only mobilizes the special interest whose ox is being gored. #3 is probably the most important going forward, but by itself is boring and tends to give the impression that the whole thing is just a bunch of paper-shuffling.

This would represent a phenomenal change in the culture of the Washington establishment if it were actually put into effect. But most importantly, we can see exactly how much the GOP establishment is willing to accept discipline by the base. If the answer is not very much, then the GOP majorities are probably not worth saving.

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