Interest-group Conservatives

Slate editor Jacob Wiesberg has an informative summation of the Republican's transition from being haters of "big government" to being "interest-group conservatives". Money quote:

A recent Cato Institute study points out that for the 101 biggest programs that the Contract With America Republicans proposed to eliminate as unnecessary in 1995, spending has now risen 27 percent under a continuously Republican Congress. Likewise, the conservative notion of deregulation has been supplanted by a demand for moralistic regulation, while the demand for judicial restraint has been replaced by pressure for right-wing judicial activism.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Good post and good article. The Republicans need to be raked over the coals for partaking in the same cynical practices that have become the downfall of the current democratic party. However the Belgravia Dispatch has a few bones to pick with some Mr. Weisburg's more ambitious arguments.
Interest-group liberalism hasn't gone anywhere. Those Democratic Presidential candidates in Iowa last year competing with one another to repeat interest group talking points about everything from education to race didn't think interest-group liberalism had declined. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee today certainly don't. Why can so few Democrats in politics demonstrate mastery of foreign policy and national security issues? Because none of their "groups" care about any of them, except for the ones who care about Israel, neither do they.

Weisberg is just spinning here, on behalf of a Clinton administration that adapted first to low approval ratings and later to a Republican Congress, but otherwise did little to break "the groups'" hold on the Democratic Party. I'll grant that Clinton had opportunities to do this, but after he made it through his reelection he had, ahem, other priorities, and his influence faded.