I always find E. J. Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post, a thoughtful man. He has a new book out that critiques how the Republican Party in general have gotten themselves into such a hole today. Below is a conversation he had with James Fallows of The Atlantic on Kentucky Educational Television.
(UPDATE: I’m sorry, but KET seems to have taken down the video. So I substitute here a speech he gave about the book at the Harvard Book Store.)
Like him I have the same kinds of questions about whether the Republican Party can ever return to some semblance of a group that is interested in any new ideas or that has the will to govern our country with any hope and imagination. Simply shouting No, and simply claiming that “the government” is the root of all evil is untenable. As he says in the conversation, where are the conservative giants like Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and George H. W. Bush, who all used government in limited but powerful ways to build the infrastructure of the country to make the private economy flourish?
Almost every current Republican officeholder seems to have Andrew Jackson as their model – the man who’s policies of cutting the activities of the government (i.e., vetoing the Second National Bank renewal, the Specie Circular) plunged the country into a depression (Panic of 1837). And many of the current crop also seem to share Jackson’s antipathy for “the other”.