Right on cue, Thomas Friedman, over at the New York Times, has written his most recent column on the need for a “real conservative party.” This idea sounds pretty good until you begin to understand what Friedman, centrist that he is, is actually talking about. To him, a real conservative is one who is not necessarily opposed to big government so long as it is serving what he calls “the four great issues of our day”: 1) budget and debt, 2) globalization and education, 3) energy and climate, and 4) illegal immigration.
Apparently Friedman, like most of his liberal colleagues at the Times, is worried that the “radicals” in the Tea Party movement are beginning to define the agenda and goals of the Republican Party. What Friedman refers to as “real conservatives” are nothing more than George W. Bush clones: somewhat right-leaning on social issues, but essentially left-leaning on the economy. When Friedman says “conservatives,” what he really means is career politicians who are willing to throw truckloads of cash at problems in the hope that something magical will happen. You know, “conservatives” that are essentially Obama with an “R” after their name and only slightly less generous with Federal Reserve printing presses. Was Friedman conscious during the Bush years, or was he blissfully asleep during that “conservative” paradise?
It is mindboggling how guys like Friedman can continue to make arguments and write articles like he does. As a token Republican at a predominantly Democrat-run paper, Friedman has convinced himself that the nebulous “right of center” is where the real conservative position lives. His “not quite huge” view of big government is the real problem. What he calls the “radical” view—Tea Party types who actually believe in constricting government rather than expanding it—is, in reality, the only way to move forward. If, as Friedman seems to be saying, the “real” conservative position means proposing smaller amounts for any and every government program dreamed up by liberals, then conservatives are really nothing more than fiscal regulators. Liberals get to define policy and conservatives get to debate the amounts. So, Republicans knock a few million off the latest federal entitlement program and they suddenly become conservatives? America still goes bankrupt, but at a slightly slower pace. Sounds like a liberal with a bow tie to me.
Near the end of his column, Friedman makes his real argument plain and clear: “We are not going to make any progress on our biggest problems without a compromise between the center-right and center-left. But, for that, we need the center-right conservatives, not the radicals, to be running the G.O.P., as well as the center-left in the Democratic Party.” There you have it. The only way forward is to compromise somewhere in the middle. Friedman has made up his mind that government should be involved in nearly every aspect of American life, the only question is: To what degree? Every Republican president (Bush One and Bush Two) since Reagan has adopted this philosophy and what exactly has it gotten us? More debt and less freedom.
If that is what Friedman means by “real conservatism,” he can keep it. This “right-leaning” centrism is nothing but restricted liberalism. It’s writers like Friedman who are perpetuating the cycle of governmental intrusion and financial enslavement. I am not interested in auctioning off my kids’ future at a lower interest rate. The cost is too high whatever the payments might be. The Tea Party “radicals” are the only ones making sense. As Thomas Sowell says it: “No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: ‘But what would you replace it with?’ When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?” Apparently Friedman has gotten so used to the fire that he can’t imagine life without it.