Unlike fellow University of Chicagoan David Brooks, I’ve never been a conservative, Burkean or otherwise. I’m a centrist, independent Democrat who believes that, for the most part, people make better collective decisions than the “government” does, and that, per Jefferson, centralized power never devolves back to the people who pay for all of it. Where the government needs to play a role is solving problems that only government can solve, namely, separating strong from weak claims on resources and securing justice. That requires a certain restraint by those in power, doesn’t it?
I voted for Barack Obama because I believed his conciliatory “post partisan” campaign rhetoric. I was tired of all the shouting and blaming. It’s clear now that that’s what Obama’s campaign position was- rhetoric. He is certainly not governing as a centrist. Whether that’s because there’s no-one for him to meet in the middle, or because making common cause with the Soviet wing of his own party is better politics, that Obama is no more.
I supported health reform because I found it morally intolerable that nearly 50 million people were uncovered. What we got (and I’ve read every page of the bill twice) was an astonishingly untransparent, paternalistic extension of the government’s regulatory power into every part of the health system. I feel the same about financial reform, if only because an untransparent financial system will create another financial panic that will carry away the rest of my retirement savings.
But what this all feels like to me is a further, permanent extension of government power into my life, and the ascendancy of yet another technocratic elite who, because largely of where they went to school, think they know better than I do what ought to happen in society. I hate the thinly disguised bigotry of the Tea Party right. I hate the elitism and anti-market populism of Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman’s Democratic party.
So what does that make me: a f@#*ing political orphan.
And it pisses me off.
Barack, who art thou?