November 29, 2007

Small Government Conservatism in the U.S.

As a rule, I avoid delving into discussions and comments as regards to American Politics however I draw your attention to a weighty but very good piece posted on Monday over at American Power. Incidentally, the blog offers “commentary and analysis on American politics, culture, and national identity, U.S. foreign policy and international relations, and the state of education - from a neoconservative perspective.”

Donald Douglas considers the “diversity among Republicans of late on the question of which set of conservative values will prevail in the post-Bush era.” I pondered a related question this week following John Howard’s election loss after reading a post suggesting that one of Howard’s failures was in not building in conservative base during his 11-year rule. However, back to Donald’s piece, he wrote:

“The current ferment has got me thinking: Is Reagan the model, as he's often mentioned in the debate over the conservative future?”

There are many ideas, views and references throughout the article, I suggest you read the whole piece here.

He concludes:

“My neo-conservatism supports a muscular national security policy, and a large, well-funded defense bureaucracy to back it (and I deeply distrust the antiwar fringe libertarians backing the Paul campaign). I also see that with our international preponderance comes great responsibility. Perhaps we'll need more prudence in a post-Bush world, but we should not recoil from the robust use of power to achieve American interests.”

“Note, though, that some observers forget that neo-conservatism also offers a powerful domestic agenda of support for traditional values, personal responsibility, and the rejection of the social welfare paternalism of Great Society liberalism. Neoconservatives are especially upset by the descent of traditional morality as a guiding ethos for the new generations.

“In other words, government is not the problem, but is a possible solution to many policy dilemmas. The key, I would argue, is to move with intelligence and pragmatism. An ideological agenda along these lines - one that recognizes that government, i.e., the state - holds a promising avenue for a restoration of conservative ideology after the Bush presidency.”


As I said it is weighty and, one could argue, best left to the experts (as in political science gurus/pundits) to comment upon, to judge, decide rightly or justly. I do not constitute part of the latter and considerately, do not wish to pretend, but I did put in my bit:

“A nation as complex and powerful as America needs a measure of statehood and Governance to manage affairs and facilitate growth. One can argue all day about matters of size and scope, this representing a challenge for represented leaders. In this context, we need to differentiate between management and leadership for it is far preferable to have the state manage though, in accordance with the guiding principles of elected representatives – leaders – who embrace traditional conservative principles as opposed to populist conservatives who are merely at odds with conventional liberalism.”

“Without fear or favor, I am drawn to small, non-intrusive but intelligent Government idealism, a robust national security policy, adequately funded defense establishment, the advancement of time-honored values and morality and a check on the state and scope of social welfare programs. America must also need to confront islamification and related radical creeds, staunchly defend the constitution, and promote individual enterprise, liberty, and self-reliance for the welfare of capitalism; actions that will further American Interests both within, and outside your borders.”

My regular readers will note the incline toward a robust U.S. foreign policy, aside from this, very small Government ideology is a good idea however, to borrow Donald’s words, “utopian.”

Over to you...

22 comments:

heidianne jackson said...

i am for the smallest government possible, but am not necessarily certain what that looks like as i sit here today. i beleive we need to have a robust foreign policy wing that includes the military and reduction of almost everything else. our constitution is pretty clear as to what our founders thought should be covered.

great post, otto and it was a great post at don's too. you guys are two of my favorites!

Karen said...

Good insight, Otto! You are not alone in your opinion, either. A robust foreign policy is an absolute necessity in today's world and can easily be paid for with the elimination of so much of the waste in government today. So many programs are redundant, outdated, and have run their course.

Tapline said...

AI, Good Post and comments. I concur with the total article. Too bad others that can do something about it do not....Once they get to the beltway, they forget who sent them and why....stay well.....

Aunty Belle said...

Bravo--good post, Sugar Pie. Aunty done had a fella over to fix some electric troubles--this young man gave me hope--'cause he said gubmint oughta move aside an' let us do our jobs. This youngster said he believed in himself and din't need nuthin' from Uncle Same but safer borders and the strongest army to keep others off our necks if need be,,,,Now , truly Ottavio, it has been a long spell since I heard that from a tradesman- Sign of hope.

Incognito said...

Indeed, a strong foreign policy is extremely important.. that's probably the main issue that ties me to the conservative party. I also have a tendency to believe in smaller government.. there is plentiful waste.. however, as an artist, I see some things a little differently. The arts, for example, would not exist were it not for government and state funding. I'm writing a post about the N.E.A., which is an organization most conservatives would like to be rid of. But I think most conservatives don't realize all the essential arts programmes the NEA funds.

I think the government does need to caretake certain programmes because the people won't.

Aurora said...

Otto, that's a thoughtful intelligent post you've written. The quote was great. This part especially strikes a resonance with me:
Neoconservatives are especially upset by the descent of traditional morality as a guiding ethos for the new generations.

If we lose our moral center there's nothing left.
I totally agree with you about small government. It's time interfering government got out of our pockets and gave us back some of the freedoms they've robbed from us.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Dr Douglas' intellect is formidable.

American Interests said...

heidianne: exactly and thanks for the praise...


Karen: Thanx, there is must waste isn't there...plenty of scope for a bullet proof foreign policy agenda...

Tap: Politicians behave well, like politicians don't they...

aunty belle: Indeed impressive remarks from the trady, "safer borders and the strongest army to keep others off our necks"!

incog: Thannx incog, your comments don't surprise me for I have read your views before...You partake in the industry so are well informed and more than qualified to inform us. The arts are important and you have highlighted one area where governance has benifits..I agree...

American Interests said...

aurora: kudos and thank you. I enjoy my occasional stops at the midnight sun

http://www.themidnightsun.org/

great satan's...: Yep, he's the real McCoy! Thanks for stopping by...

troll said...

A few points:

1) A signicant small L libertarian wing remains a part of the Republican Coalition. Equating them with moonbats like Ron Paul is unfair. Bill Buckley and Steve Forbes are better examples. Ronald Reagan GOVERNED as a small L libertarian when he could. Especially as Governor of Cali.

2) They aren't "utopian" in their support of "small government conservatism". They are, first and foremost, FEDERALISTS. And their central idea is that the FEDERAL Government should be as small as possible. Not that Government at all levels shoud be weak. Their contention is that the FEWER things the FEDS do, the better they can do them. I agree. And think it's a system that uniquely fits America.

3) Neo-Cons think that inserting conservative-sounding buzzwords like "abstinence" and "personal accountability" into FED programs makes some difference.

4) We Paleo-Cons (and our libertarian brethren) hark back to the words of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

"People think this job is all-powerful. They'd be shocked to learn how often an Executive Order I've issued as been subverted or even reversed 2,3,4 levels down in the bureaucracy."


We contend that State, County and Local elected officials are in a better position to smoke-out entrenched bureaucrats hostile to the will-of-the-people. And, especially in the South, they don't have the same impossible-to-fire status as their Fed counterparts.

We're not "utopians", we're realists.

Regarding Point 3, last year an entrenched bureaucrat at the Federal Department of Education took it upon themselves to REMOVE the section on "abstinence" in documents mailed to some 8000 School Districts.

Somehow, by pure luck, he was actually caught and identified. His punishment?

A first "documented" verbal warning. The procedure for actually firing him would be:

1) First documented verbal warning.
2) Second verbal warning.
3) First written warning.
4) Second written warning.
5) Suspension (two weeks paid)
6) Suspension (one week unpaid)
7) Termination.

Each step can be appealed. The final step gets an automatic appeal.

Sorry, but Neo-Cons and Rinos who believe that they can work within that system are the real "utopians".

Debbie said...

Donald's articles always provoke thought and consideration. Your comments, Otto, especially the last paragraph, represent my feelings.

Small government is the only way to go, but like heidianne jackson said, that is hard to specifically define.

Our government is way too big at present, but how do we go backwards? Very difficult task.

Debbie
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

Jeff said...

Otto, please don't avoid American politics on your blog. How can American politics not affect your world, so please chim in.

Jeff said...

Otto, please don't avoid American politics on your blog. How can American politics not affect your world, so please chim in.

WomanHonorThyself said...

Neoconservatives are especially upset by the descent of traditional morality as a guiding ethos for the new generations...amen my friend..excellent stuff!

Paul Champagne said...

One place where the neo-conservatives and I diverge is in social policy. Where the neo-cons want to dictate a policy based on judeo-christian values, I want social policy to be dictated upon the values of the 50 states. I think that this is closer to what the founding fathers had in mind.

DD2 aka Debonair Dude said...

Happy Sunday everybody. I hope you have better weather where you are then we do here in New York where it’s snowing and windy and it’s the coldest day of the year so far...20 degrees. with a wind chill factor of 13 degrees.
Stay warm and pass the Hot Toddy. ...I like mine with Tequila, Kahlua, a bit of Tuaca, and coffee.

American Interests said...

troll: Interesting comments – thanks.

I guess that one problem with us non specialists is that we tend to wrongly lump all conservatives into one basket. The 2nd half of my post quite deliberately reflected my broad views; absent was any distinction between different conservative movements hence, Paleocons vs. Neocons. Which of the two represents legitimate or true conservatism? Whilst an answer is warranted this can amount to a lengthy response; one that would leave neither camp convinced.

I am more than comfortable with America’s constitutional principles (Federalists and State’s issue) thus I am warm to at least one feature of traditional conservatism.

You also appear to be addressing Donald’s viewpoints at American Power. I cannot speak for him in relation to your reasoning, thus you may wish to visit the source.

Once again thanks.

Debbie: I am glad my paragraph reflects your views. It's the same in Australia, way to much governance, even under supposedly conservative rule. Winding it back is a bit like unscrambling an egg...I am glad you visited!

Jeff: Thanks for the suggestion. I may chim in sporadically.

Though ultimately I fancy sticking to the sites central premise as an advocate for the continuance and preservation of global American dominance regardless of which, political party rules the White house.

womanhthyself: Thanks Angel, great to see your words here....

paul c: Yes, it may well be closer to what your founding fathers wanted, and if I am correct, more consistent with paleocons. Correct me if I am wrong...

DD2: Hey it's been a while, great to see you here...Stay warm and that "hot tuddy" sounds yummy. Once again, thanks for coming around!!!!

GrEaT sAtAn'S GiRlfRiEnD said...

Otto, you are absolutely correct - true - 'Straussian purists' '911 Neos' and 'Pentagon Vulcans' share more with Grand Dame Jeanne Kirkpatrick, than with social conservatives.

That thought is still around today - 'specially amoung younger Amreicans. Example: Social concerns - gays getting hitched, health care, pro choice, global warming, taxes are like Canadian Parliment TV or the Golf Channel - totally zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The dangers and opportunities in Foreign Policy are much more important - especially in an age of WMD crunk super villian caliphates, in deed - without America unbound - there are no other issues.

Is this not an accurate def of neo con?

American Interests said...

greatsgirlfriend: opportunities and threats ought place foreign policy at the heart of an administrations national/international agenda... That's a good observation. All other policies have importance even domestic one's, but generally they're second fiddle in this threatening day and age....

American Interests said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Goat said...

Good post, Don's a friend and is a Political Science prof. and we pretty much see eye to eye as a small "l" libertarian myself.

American Interests said...

Thanks goat...