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There’s Actually Some Things To Do

March 6, 2010

Frum recently had a piece at CNN arguing that the advent of C-SPAN and the increased exposure of Congress has led to the increased gridlock via the usage of the filibuster in the legislative body because:

Congress in the first period was controlled by a handful of committee chairmen, who owed their positions to seniority. The committees did their work in secret. Bills written in committee typically could not be amended on the floor of Congress. The institution was authoritarian, hierarchical, opaque. And stuff passed.

Over at RedState, Erick Erickson had this to say:

Maybe, just maybe there is a different reason Congress has done little since the seventies. Maybe, just maybe it could be because conservatives largely took over in the 80’s through Republican controlled White Houses or Congresses and conservatives tend to think we don’t need sweeping legislation to solve all the ills of the American people.

Isn’t this the quintessential vanity piece of liberal drivel? Those elites back in the 50s to the 70s could get great things done because they didn’t have to interact with the people. But once they were forced to interact with those C-SPAN cameras, they couldn’t solve all the problems the American people never knew they had.

Frum’s response:

If it were possible for two paragraphs to sum up everything that is wrong with the American conservative movement, these are them.

The total indifference to policy and governance – the glib equation of ideological activists with “the people” – the assumption that conservatives just needed to “take over” and then all problems would spontaneously disappear  ….  it’s all on display.

The suggestion that conservatives don’t need to legislate – or anyway don’t need to legislate anything much – is ignorant of history, ignorant of policy, ignorant of government.

He’s right.  Conservatives like to give a big “ha ha—that’s great!” when things like a snowstorm keep Congress from operating as it usually does because then those mean politicians can’t do anything wrong!  Well, the problem here is that there are certain infallible issues that have to be dealt with by Congress even though we all know the Feds couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a proverbial boat.  Don’t believe me?  What about the things that the government itself has screwed up so very royally in the past, like immigration and Medicare?  These issues need to be resolved for us to have any realistic economic future, and, unfortunately, legislation is the only means to that end.

It’s not change for the sake of change.  In fact, some of these necessary changes need to be made in the interest of preservation.  We won’t become Argentina if we don’t achieve universal health insurance or fail to cap our carbon emissions, but we will if we refuse to do anything about the deficit or allow the burden of unskilled immigration to continually inflict damage on our public schools and low-wage work force.  Conservatives shouldn’t want to regain power so they can sit on their hands and let the American people live their lives.  They should want to regain power so they can preserve the ability of the American people to live their lives the way want.  Unless, of course, you’re into pork-based aphrodisiacs.

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