Retiring Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Davis has compared the Republican “brand” to a dog food that ought to be taken off the shelves. GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, writing in NRO, doesn’t seem to realize that the problem with the brand extends beyond the label — there’s something wrong with the product itself.
Catellanos, though, gets a fuzzy feeling thinking about the recent recovery of the British Tories:
Conservatives do have something to say about this. Our British cohorts, as [David] Brooks notes, are expressing it: “They want voters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control.” But the “Conservative Revival” that Brooks has discovered in the Anglo motherland is new only in expression, not in principle or practice. Conservatives have always believed in bottom-up self-government, not top-down, state-imposed administration.
Try squaring that with the Iraq War is one obvious retort. Another is that Britain has been suffering under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown even longer than American has suffered under Bush. Conservative leader David Cameron looks good by comparison to old New Labour for the same reason Barack Obama looks good next to McBush.
A bit more Castellanos:
What we believe in is people-driven, choice-filled, dynamic, flexible, equal-opportunity self-government. We should call it organic government. Want to know what your government is going to look like 20 years from now? Ask your children. They will say it will look a lot less like General Motors and a lot more like MySpace.
Good grief — has this guy ever seen MySpace? I’m not sure anyone who has would compare it favorably even to a corporate dinosaur like General Motors.
Castellanos ends on this note:
Fellow conservatives, let’s learn to say it: We need more government, lots of it, but we need the kind that actually works: Bottom-up self-government by a mature people. And we need that government in our hands — because it is not natural, efficient, or beneficial to leave something so powerful in the hands of anyone else.
Well, I take back what I say up above. Castellanos is not simply slapping a new label on the same old dogfood. This is the same old label on the same old dogfood, though normally it has the good sense not to declare that the ingredients include “more government.” He contends that government and the state are different — and actually, Nock said the same thing, albeit in coherent terms — but his idea of government is loopy to say the least: “The PTA governs. The Chamber of Commerce governs. Facebook governs. The Invisible Hand governs.” I’d rather not be governed by the PTA or Chamber of Commerce, thank you very much, and I don’t think Facebook or the invisible hand needs any help from the GOP to do whatever governing either one does. (What are the Republicans going to do, ban gambling on Facebook, too?) How is this pitch meant to make me want to buy brand GOP? I wouldn’t feed it to my dog.