Posted by | April 24, 2011 08:31 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter and ongoing conservative, wrote an important piece this week on the alienation between conservatives and the welfare state.

Speaking only personally, I cannot take seriously the idea that the worst thing that has happened in the past three years is that government got bigger. Or that money was borrowed. Or that the number of people on food stamps and unemployment insurance and Medicaid increased. The worst thing was that tens of millions of Americans – and not only Americans – were plunged into unemployment, foreclosure, poverty.

In part a voice like Frum’s is so refreshing because it has become so rare.  The views he expresses are the ones that used to be mainstream Republicanism.  As Steve Benen puts it:

As recent elections in Canada and England show, conservatives tend to go out of their way to make it clear they won’t dismantle the foundations of the welfare state. This existed the same way in the U.S. for much of the post-WWII era.

Of course, any hopes that modern conservatism might return to a worldview consistent with Frum’s vision is folly. The right has simply gone over a cliff — jumped, really — and has no interest in climbing back up.

But I can’t help but wonder how constructive our political process and public discourse would be if there were still conservative Republicans who were capable of perceiving reality as Frum does.

Unfortunately that is a false hope.  The Republican Party has been so fully taken over by the right wing that those with views like Frum have two choices:  Stay Republicans and help to destroy the country, or join the Democrats in a permanent majority.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.