In what was clearly intended to be a snarky, hip rebuke of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Tea Party supporters, and other limited government advocates, the Washington Post's domesticated, in-house “conservative” Michael Gerson inadvertently exposed his true colors. By so doing, he articulated the gaping divide in the Republican ranks.
After a string of juvenile insults of various leaders of the limited government movement, Gerson bottom lined it, approvingly quoting from a recent National Affairs piece by Phillip Wallach and Justus Myers:
Tea Partiers and other limited government advocates "seek to break with the past in a very different manner – repudiating 80 years of institutional development and reinventing American as a nation that rejects the substantive role for regulation or a social safety net.”
And there you have it. Honesty from a liberal masquerading as a “conservative.” Yes, Mr. Gerson, millions of us do seek a break from the collectivist past built by your Bull Moose cronies.
The Regulatory State is killing our nation, destroying the very concept of private property and consigning us into a Kafkaesque world ruled by an army of Lois Lerner clones.
By defining the battle lines as those who oppose the leftist slide of government and those, like you, who want to make it more efficient and effective you have shown beyond all doubt that the Establishment GOP is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. In the Eisenhower era, this was called "Modern Republicanism."
Like Patty Hearst, you have been a captive of the intellectual thugs of the Left — your own personal Symbionese Liberation Army — so long that you now see their cause as your own.
They define the agenda, they decide what is relevant and what isn’t, they determine what speech and topics are allowed and which are “impolitic.”
In truth, this divide has been present for a long time. From the day Theodore Roosevelt split the GOP vote, thus enabling fellow “progressive” Woodrow Wilson to win the White House, the GOP has been split between those who remained loyal to the principles of individual liberty, federalism, and a truly limited and constrained federal government and those who embraced the collectivist, centralized all-powerful state. The battle ebbs and flows but until now it has not reached existential levels.
Defending the repugnant tactics and actions of Sen. Thad Cochran's re-election campaign -- whether ultimately found to be legal or not -- demonstrates for all to see that the only thing the establishment will fight for is holding on to power. There are no principles, no moral character, no integrity -- just a thirst for power that is unquenchable.
In his usual arrogant and elitist tone, Gerson admonishes all to understand that, while Obama’s “progressivism is exhausted and increasingly discredited,” the only hope Republicans have of winning is to embrace these very same progressive policies.
Of course, the GOP would be more effective and more sensitive. But at no time does Gerson suggest that the people be offered a true alternative to the tyrannical impulses of the modern state.
So, like the stopped clock twice a day, Gerson is correct. The Republican Party is tearing apart. But it is doing so over important things.
And, while his beloved Patty Hearst-clone Establishment may not survive the breakup, America will gain a meaningful choice on the direction of our nation.
I’m sure Gerson will be able to find a comfortable home in some Democrat think tank where he can end his days writing endless tomes of how right he always was.Richard Manning is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.