Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It was real, and it was genuine

Roland Dodds offers up his advice for small government conservatives in the wake of Bill Kristol's recent column. Yes there is evidence that Roosevelt's New Deal may have done more harm than good, but that isn't necessarily the way Americans saw it at the time (and remember what they say about vision and hind-sight...)
What I can say however is that a majority of the citizenry believed Roosevelt was helping them during those dire years. A majority believed he was on their side, and that he was doing all he could to make their lives better. That perception matters, both in politics and in our assessment of history. When George Bush stood at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, and said we would do all in our power to bring the people responsible for the tragedy to justice, it struck a chord with many Americans. It took years of incompetence to squander that goodwill (with an equal share of hyper partisanship from the opposition), but it was real and it was genuine.
Now this is an interesting point, and plays back into the "politics is personality" thing somewhat. The abstraction inherent in small government conservatism is the problem, I think. Abstract ideology does not put food in your belly, nor money in your pocket. And ideology that focuses so far into the future that it sidesteps the immediate problems our country faces (i.e. job loss right now as opposed to theoretical lack of future job creation) is not going to look very good to people who are facing tough economic times.