Campaigns/Elections

"Today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom"

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So sayeth Dick Armey, former Gingrich revolutionary and House majority leader from 1995-02. Armey, who now heads up Freedom Works, has uncharitable things to say about the last eight years of Republicanism:

Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. How else do we explain "compassionate conservatism," No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug benefit and the most dramatic growth in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society? […]

The response by Mr. McCain to the financial crisis on Wall Street was the defining moment of the campaign. In what looked like a tailor-made opportunity to "clean up Washington," the Republican nominee could have challenged the increasingly politicized nature of Federal Reserve policies, and the inherently corrupt relationships between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and various Democratic committee chairmen. Instead, his reaction was visceral and insecure: He "suspended" his campaign and promised "to put an end to the reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed that have caused a crisis on Wall Street." […]

Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 because voters no longer saw Republicans as the party of limited government. They have since rejected virtually every opportunity to recapture this identity. But their failure to do so must not be misconstrued as a rejection of principles of individual liberty by the American people. The evidence suggests we are still a nation of pocketbook conservatives most happy when government has enough respect to leave us alone and to mind its own business. The worrisome question is whether either political party understands this.

I don't know if Armey is right about the political calculus of it all, but I do know that if Republicans react to Tuesday's drubbing by embracing less individual freedom in the form enhanced cultural conservatism, they are flirting with the possibility of going extinct. Ask newspapers, for one, how that whole, don't-attract-customers-under-30 thing has worked out for them.

Some Dick Armey hits from the reason archives: Before the 2006 elections he explained why Republicans deserved to lose. A few weeks before that, he kicked social cons square in the be-hind. In 1997, he was interviewed by contributing editor Caroyln Lochhead. And earlier this year he was on reason tv, talking about immigration:

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  1. The Republican Party is never going to recover. And I will never vote for it again. It might as well die.

  2. Conservatives have never been for personal freedom. God, I hate conservatives. Always up in my grill, telling me to put on a suit and get a job.

  3. I don’t recall Armey being a shining beacon of freedomness in those days, but he makes some good points now.

  4. Plus, “Dick Armey” is an extremely awesome name.

  5. Plus, “Dick Armey” is an extremely awesome name.

    It doesn’t get much better than that.

    I don’t recall Armey being a shining beacon of freedomness in those days, but he makes some good points now.

    Te view is *always* different from the outside.

  6. “Plus, “Dick Armey” is an extremely awesome name.”

    Great name for the new “voluntary” Obama civilian police force.

  7. Not much to argue with there.

    Exit polling shows that we are a long way from a permanent “progressive” realignment, but without a legitimate and functional alternative (adjectives I do not apply to a Libertarian Party that insists on maintaining its fringe status), that realignment will happen by default.

  8. …the new “voluntary” Obama…

    Or a porno, but yeah, whatevs.

  9. But everything going to be different now that Obama is president. Change! Yes we can! I don’t have to have a job and take from my boss anymore. I’m going to go his office and tell him to go fuck himself right now! And then I’ll punch him.

    Celebrate good Obama, come on!

    O-bama, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mine, Hey Obama! Hey Obama!

  10. Well well, look who just woke up! Welcome to the twenty first century you fat fuck.

    Dick Army has been talking up the GOP as the libertarian’s only friend against the evil libruls, for the past… ever. Come the r3VOLution, he goes up against the wall.

  11. Ugh. Where are my pants? Hey, where’s my TV!? And why do I have an Obama-Biden sign sticking out of my rectum?

  12. YES WE CAN!
    YES WE CAN!
    YES WE CAN!
    YES WE CAN!
    YES WE CAN!
    YES WE CAN!
    YES WE CAN!YES WE CAN!

    YES WE CAN!

  13. “O-bama, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mine, Hey Obama! Hey Obama!”

    Ok, I totally lol’d.

  14. Dick Armey, I learned years ago that the Republican Party didn’t care about individual freedoms and they were really not much different than the Democrat Party. I ‘m surprised he still holds out hope for the Republican Party. He should do what Bob Barr did and join the Libertarian Party. Wonder if anyone has asked him?

  15. Lefiti got his meds mixed up again.

  16. Porgi,
    South Park reference.

  17. Shorter Dick Armey..

    Heck, if Bob Barr can con them into thinking he’s a Libertarian I wants me some of that action!

  18. I’m sure that would advance his career greatly….

  19. Xeones | November 7, 2008, 4:20pm | #

    Plus, “Dick Armey” is an extremely awesome name.

    It’s a good porn name.

  20. If I’m remembering correctly, in Scarborough’s book, Armey was part of the problem, not the solution, in the start of big govt Republicanism when Gingrich was pushed aside.

  21. Ask newspapers, for one, how that whole, don’t-attract-customers-under-30 thing has worked out for them.

    This sounds like a non sequitur to me. The struggles of printed newspapers — and magazines, ahem — aren’t about the neglect of any one demographic. It’s just that people now read news content online, where advertising revenue is much more elusive.

    The content may or may not be properly targeted to the “under-30” crowd, but that’s irrelevant to why people are buying less of the print product.

  22. “South Park reference.”

    Oh, well, I haven’t watched that show in a long, long time. But still, made me laugh, so maybe I should flip the channel over there again.

  23. Does anyone else have the feeling McCain lost on purpose? I mean his campaign was soooo bad I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He is such a terrible public speaker his only hope was to overcome that with a message of smaller government and more individual freedom. I’ve been wondering how much of his campaign came from him and how much was his doing what his advisers told him to do.

  24. So, it looks like the Republican party might end up going the way of the Whigs, which was the previous big-government mercantilist party.

    -jcr

  25. Rush Limbaugh was busy today rallying his fundie nut squad around Sarah Palin for a 2012 run by defending the “lies” of the McCain campaign concerning her rank ignorance.

    Its a fucking beautiful thing! – Watching the wingnuts plan their own obsolescence!

  26. “I’m Dick Armey… and you’re going to enlist, baby!”

    That’s the exciting cocktail party banter Reason sold its soul for.

    Meanwhile, the Dick Armey story Reason won’t tell you is at that link. It’s not that shocking, but then again following the money is a lot more than Reason could ever do.

  27. “Today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom”

    Eh, that’s always been true.

  28. And what exactly did Dick Armey, or any of the other Republicans who are suddenly going to find religion in the next months and years, do to limit government and expand individual freedoms during his time as one of the most powerful Republican politicians in Washington? He failed miserably even if he tried.

  29. The Republican brand is dead. They’ll never get into power again for the next 30 years, and the Republican leadership will be happy to accept some pork from the Democrats in exchange for congressional votes. Get used to it 🙁

  30. bill,
    Well, there is an idea that he was working with Obama on a diamond heist…

  31. “Today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom”

    Eh, that’s always been true.

    There was a brief moment, in the mid-1800’s. But otherwise, QFT.

  32. I’m not sure that the Republican party doing a Jesus and Marx buddy movie is the death knell you say it is, Matt.

    First of all, in an election where virtually nothing went right for Republicans, the social conservative set held its own quite nicely when it came to stuff like gay marriage, and otherwise lost big in an election where the “economy” was the landslide big issue. There seems to be an awful lot of common ground between social conservatives and a number of the votes they currently aren’t getting.

    The thing that scares me is not so much that a lurch to the social conservative wing of the party will happen, what scares me is I think they will have success doing so. I’m beginning to think that when it comes to economic policy choices in elections, we’re going to have a choice between both kinds: country AND western.

  33. Well, there is an idea that he was working with Obama on a diamond heist…

    One last job! And then I’ll retire from public service.

    On a humorous note, did anyone notice that Bob Novak is floating Newt Gingrich in 2012?

  34. Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms.

    He nailed it.

  35. Palin’s rank ignorance.

    What exactly was she ignorant on?

    Biden didn’t know which Article defined the Executive, and thought we had thrown Hezbollah out of Lebanon.

    You can’t get much bigger than our founding document and a military intervention that never happened.

  36. Err… TallDave… thinking the world is 6,000 years old is pretty ignorant. It doesn’t matter what percentage of the US may agree with her, it’s still ignorance. A large percentage of the US thinks the moon landing was faked and that the war on drugs is a great idea.

  37. And what exactly did Dick Armey, or any of the other Republicans who are suddenly going to find religion in the next months and years, do to limit government and expand individual freedoms during his time as one of the most powerful Republican politicians in Washington?

    Well, for one thing, Dick Armey was pretty much singlehandly responsible for the sunset clause on the original Patriot Act.

    I also have fond memories of his website pointing out how the DC stoplights that had gotten red-light cameras all also got shorter yellow times.

    Of course, Reasonoids should also realize that McCain didn’t exactly run on gay marriage or abortion this election either. In his often-confused mix of policy positions, he has some real libertarian ones (e.g., here’s the flight attendants’ union endorsing Obama because McCain is against the Fly America Act, and because McCain opposed banning scissors and small knives from planes, and the flight attendants wanted them banned again), but he certainly didn’t run on those either. I’m not sure people could say really what he ran on, other than “McCain has experience, and is so independent that you never know what he’ll do. And he doesn’t like the Weather Underground.” Of course, considering that every Obama ad I saw was completely anti-libertarian (with the exception of promising tax cuts), perhaps it has something to do with many libertarian positions not being that popular.

  38. And FWIW, there are lots of ways to break down the election. True, Obama did much better among the wealthy. But OTOH, the swing towards Obama among white evangelical voters also appears to be larger than the swing towards Obama in general.

    I don’t think McCain could have won, particularly after the financial crisis hit, in any way. Any attempt at outreach would have alienated as many people as it brought in.

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  40. If your own campaign is calling you ig’nant, that’s pretty bad.

  41. Exit polling shows that we are a long way from a permanent “progressive” realignment, but without a legitimate and functional alternative (adjectives I do not apply to a Libertarian Party that insists on maintaining its fringe status), that realignment will happen by default.

    How very true.

    Just like, in every country where communism has succeeded in taking over, and in Europe where socialism has taken over — they won only by default, because the opposition was corrupt, incoherent, had no principles and no direction, nothing to offer. They had no message other than to be “against”.

  42. John Thacker,

    Of course, considering that every Obama ad I saw was completely anti-libertarian (with the exception of promising tax cuts), perhaps it has something to do with many libertarian positions not being that popular.

    I’m not convinced we’re that far down the road yet. It hasn’t been that long since Reagan landslides rocked the world. And say what you want about Reagan rhetoric vs action, but the small government/individual liberty rhetoric got him in the White House.

    Of course, it could be done far, far better than Reagan did.

    I’m convinced liberty is not winning, because virtually nobody on the national stage is putting up an argument for it. The Libertarian Party comes across perhaps marginally more coherent than McCain did, and the Republicans have given up on it almost entirely.

    A resurgence of liberty in this nation is still possible. But it would take the right leadership.

    I believe, the people (to a large extent) are still willing. But the leadership to implement it do not exist. And lack of high caliber leadership, sadly enough, has been the demise of many a nation in the course of 5,000 years of recorded history.

  43. How quickly we forget that it was Dick Armey who eviscerated TIPS

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