Ross Douthat writes:
From Glenn Beck to the Tea Parties, much of the energy in the post-Bush G.O.P. is with people who have grasped, albeit sometimes in inchoate ways, that big government and big business are increasingly on one team, and the champions of free markets and limited government are on the other. But they don’t know what to do about it, and what they do seem to know — cutting taxes, and letting the rest take care of itself — is often non-responsive, not only to the problems the country faces, but to the problems they themselves have diagnosed.
As I pointed out in my recent Bloggingheads with Julian Sanchez, the populist right is bound to fail in its quest to oppose big government so long as its efforts are aimed at electing trustworthy politicians. There is this faith so many on the right have that Sarah Palin is different, or that Ron Paul is different, or that somewhere there is another Ronald Reagan who is different, trustworthy, and unwilling to sell out “regular Americans.” But the steady growth in government that’s proceeded apace since the New Deal isn’t driven by personality, or politicians who are unusually duplicitous. It is a structural phenomenon. It is driven by an electorate that wants a free lunch from its government, by lobbyists who successfully shape legislation that benefits special interests, by a lack of transparency when it comes to the cost of government programs, and by a dozen other factors.
If the populist right wants to change anything, it should stop imagining that the answer is a particularly trustworthy leader, and start pressuring every elected leader to adopt specific reforms.