Relaunching A Conservative Ship Of State
May 1 1992 by Edwin J. Feulner
With the party conventions and national elections just ahead, many business executives soon will find themselves in a quandary: Do they support candidate A, whose failings are well known to them, or candidate B, who could be worse?
Historically, the answer has been as follows: They support both, and after the election neither one pays much attention. And why should they? Once upon a time, business used to stand for something. At the very least it could be counted on to defend free-market competition. It was a serious and powerful player in
Today, too many businesses and their lawyers and lobbyists are more interested in cutting deals than in cutting taxes. They believe in free trade, except in their own industry. They know they’re being regulated to death by the federal nannies, but what the heck, they’ll just pass on the costs to the consumer anyway, so why fight it? They donate large sums of money to politicians and “public interest” groups, but frequently play both sides, or support the wrong people-the ones pushing the hardest for legislation that will make it difficult to make a profit.
And then they wonder why
The manufacturing sector is not alone. Some of
And the same trend can be seen in the political parties.
At one time, there was little need for think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Progressive Foundation. That’s because the Democratic and Republican parties, and their national candidates, stood for something. And the differences were clear. Now the best we can hope for is the the lesser of two evils.
Though there are spirited exceptions on both sides of the aisle, politics today is played by a professional class not unlike some shortsighted MBAs who run the corporations and the politically correct news business. The President-
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that most conservatives today disapprove of the Bush administration. It’s not because of his questionable conservative credentials. It’s because conservatives supported the low-tax, pro-growth policies George Bush claimed to support and got the Massachusetts Miracle of Michael Dukakis instead.
The campaign gives both parties a chance to focus attention on the policies they will pursue to undo the damage they helped create. Whether they will seize the moment is an open question.
The sad fact is that the
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT
Most of all,
Number One: We need less government interference in our lives, not a new onslaught of economic and social nannyism, as dished up in the Clean Air Act amendments, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Food and Drug Administration’s new assault on pharmaceutical-industry innovation, and the new “civil rights” quota bill.
Number Two: The best way to curb the gluttonous growth of big government is to limit its calorie intake; that means cutting taxes, not increasing them.
Number Three: Every dollar government lifts from the pockets of U.S. workers is one less dollar they have for saving, spending, or investing; and worse, denying them these funds limits their choices-in education, housing, health care, entertainment, you name it.
Number Four. Americans expect a president who has his eye on the future. An economy, like a nation, is profoundly affected by the “vision thing”-for good or for ill. The real “voodoo economics” in
CONSERVATISM’S BLACK EYE
While the administration’s problems primarily have resulted from the philosophical vacuum in which it lives, the damage has not been limited to its own backyard. By frequently talking conservative, and calling itself conservative-while pursuing or acquiescing to damaging policies that are anything but conservative-the administration has given conservatism a black eye.
As one Fortune 500 CEO-a long-time Republican loyalist-put it to me in a recent letter:
“I am loathe to admit that the long-term economic prospects of this nation may have been better served if Michael Dukakis had been elected in 1988. I doubt his policies would have differed much from those of George Bush on the domestic front, and the inevitable economic decline may have once-and-for-all killed the socialist bogeyman in this country as it has in virtually all other corners of the world.”
The great strength of conservative ideas is not the lip service they are paid by professional pols and corporate hacks, but their appeal to ordinary Americans. Despite the continuing drumbeat they hear from the statists who dominate politics, book publishing, filmmaking, the news business, the academic community, and much of organized religion, the American people still think conservative-even if they don’t identify themselves as conservatives. That’s because they share a critical conservative virtue: down-home common sense. Moreover, they know classical liberalism is a failure.
Conservatives must redefine the policy agenda, as we have done before. At the same time we must rebuild the institutional base needed to make this agenda a reality, in
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., is president of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy research institution. He also serves on the boards of several other foundations and research institutes. Dr. Feulner is the author of Conservatives Stalk The House.