The Right And The Clunkers

A reader writes:

You wrote:

"Given the lack of substantive alternatives to real communal problems, they strike me as simply a form of emotional reaction to the end of the far right's dominance of American discourse."

This one sentence describes what is happening in America today vis-a-vis the right-wing's completely disproportionate reaction to what are really mildly left-of-center proposals by the President and Congress better than any column or article I have read on the subject.

Here's another example. There's a groundswell of grousing on the right about the cash-for-clunkers program, because the feds were caught off-guard by its popularity. The argument is that if the government can't run cash-for-clunkers, how can it run healthcare?

To which one might respond: but cash-for-clunkers is one example of the government actually doing something right, helpful and popular. It's the kind of pragmatic experimentation that FDR tried repeatedly. So you have a practical, targeted measure that seems to have helped abate a deeper recession in the auto industry, and the right is obsessed with the ideological abstraction of "government."

What conservatives have to do, in my view, is not demonize government, but to champion limited government. If government can do tangible practical things that help everyone, while balancing its budget, it's doing what conservatives think it should. Smart, practical initiatives that address problems that the private sector has failed at: what else is government for? The rest is ideology - and it seems to be all the Republicans have left.