Monday, September 20, 2010

The Yardstick And The Tea Parties

Yeah, it's old and Ace had it first but it's still serves as a good illustration on what the Tea Party is upset about.

As much as I want to get snarky with this (John McClane called to say, "Welcome to the party, pal!"), I shouldn't.

First, she's completely right about the yardstick theory. The first time I read it, Eric Cantor popped into my head holding the yardstick at the 28 inch mark saying, "You need to thank me for this."

Second, the former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan went googly eyed over Barack Obama in 08. Now, she might be coming around. It's important to remind her when she's right about something. Who knows, she might be right more often.

I see two central reasons for the tea party's rise. The first is the yardstick, and the second is the clock. First, the yardstick. Imagine that over at the 36-inch end you've got pure liberal thinking—more and larger government programs, a bigger government that costs more in the many ways that cost can be calculated. Over at the other end you've got conservative thinking—a government that is growing smaller and less demanding and is less expensive. You assume that when the two major parties are negotiating bills in Washington, they sort of lay down the yardstick and begin negotiations at the 18-inch line. Each party pulls in the direction it wants, and the dominant party moves the government a few inches in their direction.

But if you look at the past half century or so you have to think: How come even when Republicans are in charge, even when they're dominant, government has always gotten larger and more expensive? It's always grown! It's as if something inexorable in our political reality—with those who think in liberal terms dominating the establishment, the media, the academy—has always tilted the starting point in negotiations away from 18 inches, and always toward liberalism, toward the 36-inch point.

Democrats on the Hill or in the White House try to pull it up to 30, Republicans try to pull it back to 25. A deal is struck at 28. Washington Republicans call it victory: "Hey, it coulda been 29!" But regular conservative-minded or Republican voters see yet another loss. They could live with 18. They'd like eight. Instead it's 28.

No comments:

Post a Comment