The Mood on the Right

Roger Kimball expresses a pessimism with which I confess more than a little sympathy:

Tootling around Washington, I was struck by — well, not by its prosperity, exactly, but by what is clearly a lavish outlay of funds — your funds, in fact. Everywhere I turned there were huge building cranes. In one spot, I counted seven over the space of a few blocks. It looked a little like a third world country suddenly flush from newly discovered mineral reserves of some sort. Which I suppose describes the situation in Washington accurately enough, except that for “mineral reserves” you need to substitute “deficit spending.” I remember meeting my friend Edward Shils several years ago in Washington: “My, they live well on our money,” he said. What would he say today, I wonder, when Washington has come more and more to resemble Versailles circa 1780.

The cranes are markers of a “permanent political class,” Kimball goes on to say, living well off of government largess and the investments on inside information and special-interest gifts that flow their way. And what’s true for money is true for power — power over the smallest details of our lives.

Something’s happening — maybe it already has happened — to the republic conceived in liberty. The Tea Party sounded the alarm in 2010 and there was a rustle-bustle of acknowledgment. Their voices seem oddly, ominously silent now.

Part of that sense, I’m persuaded, comes from the (quite deliberate) allocation of newspaper column inches that might have gone to Tea Party–type stories that have instead been devoted to the antics of the Occupy movement. More broadly, and more hopefully, I think the Tea Party has gone from a movement to an organization, or rather organizations peppered throughout the civic sphere.
As an outside, grassroots movement, the Tea Party managed to sway some elections. Still, 2011 and its debt-ceiling debacle proved that the movement hadn’t broken the threshold beyond which the political class hesitates to govern by illusion. And so, we all await the next election, puzzling out how to get a real reaction from government.
Conservatives’ pessimism, then, may be the disquiet accompanying the sense that a lack of noise means a lack of action and momentum. We’ll see whether that’s the case. In the meantime, it’s worthwhile to continue pointing to the path that it would be disastrous to take.

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Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

Last summer, my family took a vacation to DC. In the early morning while they sleep, I like to just walk around and see things from the sidewalk point of view. The thing that really struck me was the size of buildings. We have departments in buildings that are five or six floors high, but seems take up a footprint at least four times what the Providence Place Mall does. That one building? The EPA. Why in the world does the EPA need a building of that size?
Add on to that, the Department of Energy, founded in in the 1970s to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil. How’s that working out for us. Department of Education? How’s that worked out? Are we smarter today? Or should that just be left to the states.
And now the government keeps on growing with new departments as Obama creates the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Department budgets are one place that we need to go after them with a chainsaw and not a scalpel.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

I have come to think of Washington, DC more as a living organism – a leviathan sequoia tree that has been slowly but steadily growing over thousands of years and now exclusively occupies the 60-100 square miles around which its seed was first planted with its massive roots stretching out in all directions for thousands of miles. All of the native flora and fauna have been choked out of existence or adapted to life underneath its shade or within the protection of its branches and trunk. You could cut off any one leaf, branch, or limb with a chainsaw – the tree would keep growing. You could drill into its side and begin carving out pulp – the tree would keep growing. My honest appraisal is that it has grown so long unchecked that there is essentially nothing left to this landscape except the tree and its symbiotic organisms and parasites, which at this point would desperately struggle to survive without it and will readily come to its defense, like an enraged mother bird protecting its carefully feathered nest and hatchlings hidden in the canopy. Even if you somehow managed to kill the world-tree, its 10-mile-tall husk would still loom there indefinitely into the future and continue to color everything that occured within its shadow.

ANTHONY
ANTHONY
9 years ago

The Tea Party now understands that the Republican “Party” has abandoned them for the cozy confines of Washinktopia where anything is possible when you legalize illegalities. Only in Washinktopia can you pass laws that don’t apply to you,vote yourself a pay raise and make insider trading legal for the elites (like Sheldon Whitehorse). The lesson of history? All empires fail and corrupt ones fail absolutely.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

A few observations on Washington.
As opposed to New York, or Boston’s financial district, when you see people on the street, they are “going suomeplace”. People on the street in Washington seem to be strolling.
A great many of Washington’s private office buildings are essentially empty. The offie space is rented by unions, and other “out of towners”. They rent it to have a “Washington Presence”, and only occupy it when they have reason to be in town. Reminds me of visiting the NYC offices of a large Boston law firm. It had an immense foyer, a large conference room, library, and an impressive staircase to the next floor. At the top of the staircase were two smallish offices.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

A few observations on Washington.
As opposed to New York, or Boston’s financial district, when you see people on the street, they are “going suomeplace”. People on the street in Washington seem to be strolling.
A great many of Washington’s private office buildings are essentially empty. The offie space is rented by unions, and other “out of towners”. They rent it to have a “Washington Presence”, and only occupy it when they have reason to be in town. Reminds me of visiting the NYC offices of a large Boston law firm. It had an immense foyer, a large conference room, library, and an impressive staircase to the next floor. At the top of the staircase were two smallish offices.

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