Blogs, government and the GOP

(Updated)

I actually like reading the political blogs because they are a kind of crucible that reflect on some of the issues that Foucault raises, such as government.

The DailyKos for example postulates that the GOP can’t succeed in power, because they are the party that wants to abolish government.

But is this argument reasonable?

Foucault was well aware of course that government included the question of how much to govern. But this does not really include the anarchic tradition; government was there, even if made “lite.”

Kos says:

So if you take over, and you actually govern well, you have shown that government can be a solution. In short, you have completely discredited the ideology upon which your party is based.

Republican orthodoxy is a great way to get elected when in the minority. There’s always plenty of government waste, inefficiency, and corruption to campaign against, to paint government as a drain on the taxpayer’s wallet. The problem is, governing like a Republican just exacerbates those problems. If Republicans don’t care about government, they have even less incentive to make sure that the money is well spent and that government programs work. So they become even more inefficient, more wasteful, and more corrupt. Heck, it’s almost a moral imperative that they screw up. The past two decades have borne that out. (And what better examples than appointing a horse lawyer to run FEMA, or Bush’s incompetent and unqualified appointments to head the World Bank?)

The FEMA/Katrina example is a good one, but a neoliberal (as is Bush, presumably, contra a commentator elsewhere) could still point to the failure due to over-government or lack of liason between federal and state governments (so, thus, still a problem of government, not a problem of the GOP).

Therefore, if his party is to remain relevant, it must recreate itself not as the party of smaller government, but the party of modernized government.

Of course, isn’t that the Democratic schtick? Call it “smarter government”, or “responsive government”, or “modernized government”, the results is still the same — a realization that government can and should work for the benefit of its citizens. We can debate the extent of such government involvement (e.g. as a Libertarian Democrat, I think less is more), but at the bottom, there’s a fundamental trust for government to do right by its people.

It’s worth remembering too that the government (as in the Bush administration) is not the only governmentality around. Even absent self-government, the state is not the only government around.

Seems Kos was just playin’ anyway.

Update. If you’re interested in how this plays out with regard to economics, there’s going to be a TPMCafe Bookclub discussion of Christopher Hays’ Nation essay on “Hip Heterodoxy.”

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