As a follow up to my post regarding the ethos of the left, it's only fair to talk about the problems on the right. I agree with practically all the opposition to statism, and promote a limited government, but much of the protest on the right seems to miss some very salient points when it comes to classical liberal principles. The word "liberal" has been hi-jacked by the left who are anything but liberal, although there are still people on the left who have a good understanding of liberal democracy/republicanism as it developed from the Enlightenment, it's just that they have placed equality above liberty without searching for a synthesis -- it's easier to just gain political power and force a vision -- it just doesn't work, and ends up empowering the State and sacrificing liberty.
Still, the right has its problems with liberty and equality as well that haven't been worked out in a new vision and direction. For too long the right has allowed the modern narrative concerning the State's role in equality and safety nets to place to them in a defensive position. The right must develope its own ideas regarding the meaning of equality and provide a defense for the private sector's role in creating safety nets. The right has merely criticized the welfare state without addressing the underlying problems which have created the welfare state. The right has criticized affirmative action and regulations meant to achieve equality, while failing to address past injustices and to develope modern solutions.
The reason women and minorities have not supported the right in large numbers before now is that the right has left itself out of the moral arguments regarding security and equal rghts. Any issues this big require an intellectual response. The right has instead offered superficial criticisms of the left which make the right look anti-intellectual and hardened to the issues of equality. The good ideas on the right have not been gathered into a guiding political philosophy which addresses these concerns.
The left's narrative needs to be debunked, and it takes better ideas to debunk old, ingrained ideas. The political leadership on the right has failed to raise the conversation in America to a higher level, and, instead, has criticized the left for overspending, yet, when the right had power, they spent too much and didn't convince the American people that we need drastic limitations on government power. If we're ever going to take power away from government something has to replace that power, and the right has been weak and split when it comes to creating a new vision and role for the private sector. Limited government rhetoric on the right gives the impression they would leave a vacuum, so, naturally this scares people who've become dependent on government -- people need to understand how they'll be better off without government intervention, and if the right can't make this case, then the left will win the argument and statism will continue. To deal with this dilemma, it will take honest, intellectual work and clear articulation.
The right also needs to take the lead in moving past partisan politics. The Tea Party is making this move, but this needs to a wide American movement -- no groupthink, no partisan maneuvering, no exclusionary religious movement, no special interest grouping for social isssues to be pushed along through by political power -- just an American movement to limit government and empower the private sector -- diverse, open-minded, inclusionary, liberty-focused, sensitive to present injustices, intellectualy solid and visionary.
Slogans won't get it done -- personal attacks won't get it done -- political power alone won't get it done -- religious intolerance won't get it done -- the right needs to place principles before personalities, before politics and before limited social issues which need to worked out in the marketplace of ideas among free adults. The right needs to win the arguments with better ideas, period.