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October 09, 2005

David Brooks: As Parties Grow Weary, Time for an Insurrection.

David Brooks has absolutely the best phrase I’ve seen to describe Harriet Myers: The John Major of American jurisprudence.

After a while, you get sick of the DeLays of the right
and the Deans of the left. After a while, you tire of
the current Republicans, who lack a coherent governing
philosophy, and the current Democrats, who are
completely bereft of ideas. After a while you begin to
wonder: Did I really get engaged in politics so I
could spend months arguing about the confirmation of
Harriet Miers, the John Major of American

And when you begin thinking this way, you find
yourself emotionally disengaging from the exhausted
clans that dominate the present. You find yourself
going back to basics and considering the fundamental
questions: What visions originally excited me about
politics and government? If it were completely up to
me, where would I plant my flag?

Here's where I would plant mine.

I believe in the lost tradition of American politics,
the tradition of Hamilton, Lincoln and the Bull Moose.
In other words, I believe that social mobility is the
core of the American experience. I believe that
society should be structured so that as many boys and
girls as possible can work, and rise the way young
Hamilton and Lincoln did.

If something is going to make American society more
fluid and dynamic, then I am for that thing. That's
why I love globalization, even while I am aware of its
costs. I love the fact that American businesses are
going be improved via competition with Chinese and
Indian rivals. I love the fact that to compete we are
going to have to reform our lobbyist-written tax code
into something flatter and fairer. I love the fact
we'll have to make health insurance competitive and
portable, so workers can move and companies can

I can't believe people want to shield America behind
the walls of ''fair trade agreements.'' I can't
believe some people think we're going to be overrun by
those hustling Asians. Americans are the
hardest-working people on earth and the most mobile.
American manufacturing output is twice China's and
it's growing at 4 percent a year.

China isn't going to bury us. It's going to make us
better and richer; it's going to open more
opportunities than it closes.

Like Alexander Hamilton, I love the dynamism of
capitalism. And like Alexander Hamilton, that doesn't
mean I hate government. I love government when it
lifts people up to compete. I hate government only
when it stifles competition and coddles. I hated the
old welfare system, which pushed its victims away from
work. I love welfare reform, which encourages work. I
hate government that directs ever more money to the
affluent elderly, but I would love a government that
gave poor children savings accounts at birth, which
would encourage them to think about the future and
understand that their destiny is in their own hands.

I hate the forces of the education establishment,
which protects its system even though after years and
billions spent, African-American students still
graduate from high schools at academic levels four
years behind their white peers. But I love the charter
schools and the forces of reform.

I can't believe that over the past 10 years our
leaders have done nothing to reduce the growing costs
of entitlements. Our preparations for Katrina look
like models of efficiency compared to our preparations
for the hurricane of debt that is ineluctably
gathering force in front of us. I can't believe we
haven't learned from Western Europe's plight, as it
slowly stagnates under the weight of its own welfare

I know, as Theodore Roosevelt observed, that every new
social arrangement creates its own sin and
stratifications. I know that as the information age
matures we are dividing between the educated class and
noneducated class, between families at the top of the
cultural capital scale, which tend to be intact, and
families at the bottom, which are more likely to be

I know, having learned it from Lincoln and Roosevelt,
that individual initiative should always be tied to
national union. I know we need a national service
program to bind our segmented youth through
citizenship. I know we need to protect the natural
heritage that defines us. I know America has to
persevere in its exceptional mission to promote
freedom, and the effort to promote democracy in the
Arab world is one of the most difficult and noble
endeavors any great power has undertaken.

When I cut myself loose from the push and shove of
today's weary political titans, and go back to basics,
I find myself strangely invigorated.

It's time for an insurrection.

Well, that’s pretty much what us libertarians (classical liberals if you wish) think and want. Bags I get to force a few of The Cabinet into that tap dance on air from the lampost.

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Bags I get to force a few of The Cabinet into that tap dance on air from the lampost.

Oooh! Terroristic violence incitement alert! Doesn't take much encoragement before you thoughtful radicals start showing your true murderous colours, does it?

(I'm only joking, but you have to be careful what you say these days...)

Posted by: 01-811-8055 | Oct 10, 2005 3:46:26 AM