Jon Favreau, actor and former speech writer for Barack Obama, is an expert at what is wrong with the conservative movement in America, or so he thinks. He writes an article in the Daily Beast today that deserves some type of retort. I'm sure many people will indeed retort. The point is that Favreau sees the supposed demise of conservatism through the lens of a liberal, and his points are therefore skewed at best. More accurately, they are venomous and erroneous demagoguery.
Paragraph by paragraph, let's attempt to deconstruct Favreau's inelegant attempt to explain what he views as the rise of destructive conservatism, in the equally liberal Daily Beast.
Nine months after a decisive loss in the 2012 elections, the battle for the soul of the Republican Party—or whatever’s left of it—has begun.I’m not talking about a battle between moderates and conservatives. The conservatives won that fight a long time ago. Our children may never believe that moderate Republicans once roamed the Earth, advocating policies that would limit carbon pollution and invest in scientific research, reform our schools and build new roads, promote national service, reduce the influence of money in politics, and require individuals who can afford health insurance to take responsibility for buying it. Soon enough, these politicians will exist only in the minds of ’90s-era pundits and Aaron Sorkin’s writing staff.
1. The loss of the presidency was indeed decisive. Not so the loss of a few seats in Congress or the stand still in the Senate.
2. The soul of the Republican party is not under siege. Nor is there a battle for its soul. There have always been moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans and libertarian-leaning Republicans in the party. That there is not a single, unquestioned viewpoint in the party is the one characteristic that differentiates it from the modern Democratic party. It is not a machine, nor is it intended to be. It is open for different viewpoints. Just because it has not been wholeheartedly embraced by some communities does not mean it is not open to them. The GOP is still a big tent party, despite what your pals in the media would tell you Jon.
3. Moderate Republicans do indeed exist. From Scott Brown to Susan Collins to many others, there are moderate Republicans to be found. Too many in fact. What you are describing however as your ideal moderate Republican Jon, is in fact a Democrat. As for your description of what constitutes a 'moderate Republican', it is full of flaws;
a) Carbon pollution is not a global crisis. Republicans are entirely in favor of clean air. They also happen to believe that the air is pretty clean and spending trillions to make it better in a negligible way is a waste of time and money.
b) Republicans believe in scientific research investment. We are not idiots. You don't go from typewriters to iPads without innovation. We embrace research and development. Here's the twist - they'd like it to be done privately and not by government or coerced through arcane tax regulation. Leave the money with those who earned it and in an effort to keep ahead of the competition they will do research. They will donate to universities to do research and they will come up with new learnings and inventions through them or on their own. It has to happen.
c) Republicans would love to reform schools. They just don't want to reform it in such a way that caters to unions, special interests and puts spending ahead of learning. They also believe that 50 states trying to manage to better education are more likely to come up with a winning solution among them than could be achieved through the dictates of an imperious central government. Russia tried that - it didn't work. China does it, and they still have 500 million people or more in poverty. See, they want school reform, just not the kind you are talking about. Decades of a liberal public education system has been a disaster. Don't come crying for more money and call it reform.
d) Building new roads? Wasn't there an $800 billion dollar stimulus for shovel ready projects a few years back? Next.
e) Promote national service? Who advocates for the military more than conservatives? Who donates more to charities Republicans or Democrats? Republicans my friend, Republicans. Just because these things are not what you deem national service does not mean they are not. Getting more people working for the government is not the goal of national service - at least for us. Other than that, who are you kidding? National service is small potatoes unless you mean it as a way to fill government agencies with 'employees' that can't find jobs because your boss has no grasp of economics and has stalled real recovery since he took office in 2009.
f) Speaking of donations - reducing the influence of money in politics is pretty hypocritical of Democrats to want. For Republicans who pushed for it John McCain was part of the byzantine McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. It was a mess. Then there was a realization by the Supreme Court that restricting money on political contributions by some groups and not others was unconstitutional and pretty obviously unfair. Liberals bleated about how unfair it was for the country to stop being unfair. I will explain it in simple terms for you Jon - either NO ONE can donate anything or else it is a distortion in some way. Someone will be disenfranchised. But clearly, treating unions differently than corporations is absurdly distorted and that wrong being righted, is indeed reform.
g) Requiring individuals who can afford health insurance to take responsibility for buying it is the cause of the month isn't it Jon? You are talking about the individual mandate and getting young people to opt into your ARRA (Obamacare) nightmare and they aren't, and that is causing funding problems for your vaunted healthcare scheme. That mention in the first paragraphs isn't clever, it is transparently self-serving. And there are so many things wrong with the Act itself that it would take an entire essay to enumerate and explain. But there is something intrinsically wrong with making people buy health insurance and fining them if they don't. There is something intrinsically wrong with a mandate that encourages companies not to exceed 50 employees for fear of being mandated into providing health care. By no means does that mean that conservatives are against health care reform. We are just against an ill conceived monstrosity of a piece of legislation that would have unintended consequences for decades to come. We are against waste and inefficiency and those problems being papered over with requests for more money to fix the problems.
Two paragraphs in and I can see this is going to take quite a bit more time to detail. For now I will leave this as a "To be continued" post and start digging into the rest of the Favreau doctrine soon.