Beneath the Left’s Love of Government

by on December 22nd, 2007

Fissures and fault lines in political parties are attractive targets for our editorial cognoscenti, and one of our favorite writers in that regard is E.J. Dionne, who’s piece in today’s Washington Post, argues that Republicans face an internecine with potentially devastating implications.

He quotes a May 2005 study by the Pew Research Center, which indicated the growing presence of a group of “pro-government conservatives”:

“The report described them as ‘broadly religious and socially conservative, but they deviate from the party line in their backing for government involvement in a wide range of policy areas, such as government regulation and more generous assistance to the poor.'”

Although there does seem to be a tectonic movement to the center as the electorate expresses a nascent ‘fringe fatigue,’ the argument that we’re witnessing the genesis of a conservative bloc begging for higher regulation seems deluded. As for providing more generous assistance for the poor, conservatives, unlike their liberal counterparts, have been strong advocates of charity to the poor, but not through the wasteful conduit of government, which, as the Great Society so effortlessly demonstrated, produces a plethora of unintended downstream consequences.

It’s that distinction that is lost on most liberals who believe that their unique version of lese majeste is best translated into robust programs that redistribute income, because underlying that motivation is a profound distrust in the common man. Specifically, they are convinced that if the government doesn’t lighten our wallets we won’t give of our own free will; it’s a cynical and unflattering view of human nature, but it’s consistent with the left’s instinctive reliance on government as the best guarantor of happiness.

Dionne concludes with a highly illustrative comment concerning this group of pro-government conservatives:

“The faithful are restive, tired of being used, and no longer willing to do the bidding of a crowd that subordinates Main Street’s values to Wall Street’s interests [emphasis added].”

The transparent implication is that conservatives favor policies that ignore the middle class in favor of pandering to big business for self-serving reasons. However, this argument only achieves credibility if you believe that income earners are frozen in a Dickensian world where economic mobility is an oxymoron. As described in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, the Treasury Department’s recent study of income mobility unequivocally demonstrates that people in the lower income quintiles do, in fact, move into the upper quintiles, and in relatively short order.

From there we segue to the fact that 65 percent of Americans own stock mutual funds and are enjoying the benefits of investing, and Net Disposable Income is up as is productivity, and inflation is in check. All of that leads to the irrefutable conclusion that the middle class is economically vibrant, which means they are the proteges of the lower-upper-class, if you will, and, with hard work and sacrifice, one day proud members of the upper class.

That, of course, is something the Dionne’s of the world would lament because their arguments for income redistribution, high regulation, and taxing the ‘rich’ fail to find political traction if middle class income earners are achieving success on their own.

Not unlike the liberals chanting for defeat in Iraq, they disdain economic success because it deprives them of a ‘natural’ voting bloc.

Philip Mella