In today’s installment of Cato Unbound, Cato’s executive vice president David Boaz argues that the Republicans have failed Reagan’s vision, offering their own brand of meddlesome statism as an alternative to the Democrats’. Boaz maintains that there is in the U.S. a constituency for limited government, but it is in need of a principled leader. So those who hold fast to limited government ideals
must translate that vision into policy proposals, organizations, and political movements. As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, advocates of liberty and limited government must make ready the ideas, the platform, the networks that could serve a political leader who wanted to take on the task of clearing away the late 20th century’s accumulated burden of bureaucratic systems, unfunded liabilities, overextended military commitments, and usurpations of the responsibilities of free citizens.
Writing in Friday’s edition, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam argue, less hopefully, that although a renewed push for smaller government isn’t in the cards, Republicans can realistically hope to win reforms that promote “freedom, self-reliance, and individual initiative”—values at the core of the limited-government movement. In the current climate, Douthat and Salam write, “simply calling for the rollback of government appeals only to those already in the winner’s circle of American life…” So, they argue, Republicans “need to accept that government will remain large in the short run … while pursuing long-range strategies that will produce a more opportunity-friendly, less statist America.”
Later this week, David Frum will kick off the informal blog conversation among this month’s contributors with a reply to their comment essays. Keep your feed readers tuned!