This is a great piece. Those of you who have read my novel know that the concept express here is my central thesis.
This is the President of Hillsdale College:
One obvious theme to strike is that people didn’t vote for, and don’t support, higher taxes and bigger government. But conservative statesmen have to get better. Calvin Coolidge once said that great statesmen are “ambassadors of providence, sent to reveal to us our unknown selves.” What that means is that great statesmen are not going to be around very often. I’d say that the standard of conservative statesmanship today is improving, but too few prominent conservatives are skillful at explaining the problem of the modern bureaucratic state. This form of government proceeds by rules, and rules upon rules, and compliance with those rules becomes a key activity of the entire nation. That results in bureaucracy, and in the inefficiencies of bureaucracy. Constitutional government, on the other hand, proceeds by clearly stated laws.
Not grasping this is an important failure of conservative statesmen today. During the first presidential debate I stood up and slapped my leg, and my wife said to sit down and be quiet, when Mitt Romney said that business and prosperity require regulation. What he should have said instead was that of course we require laws in order to be productive and to live safely, but that laws are different than regulations. Laws are passed by elected (and thus accountable) representatives, they cover everybody equally, and we can all participate in their enforcement because they are easy to understand. Not one of those three things is true of the regulations imposed by independent boards such as those established under Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. Romney was not able to make that distinction, and yet that distinction is at the heart of the choice Americans must make about how they will be governed.