24 December 2008

Glenn Grothman: wrong on campaign reform.

Hi everyone,

Not a lot of news of Glenn lately after his big win. Here's something from Sheyboygan:

An excerpt from Editorial: Pass much-needed reform bills

"Pay-for-play" has also come up recently involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who stands accused of a host of sins, including a brazen attempt to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

The case against Blagojevich is far from over, but just hearing about another politician accused of corruption in one form or another is disturbing.

Like the recent scandals that rocked Madison, the accusations against congressmen in the last few years and now the Illinois governor, should be a clarion call for ethics and campaign reform.

Unfortunately, many reform proposals introduced in the Legislature in the last session failed to even get to the floor for a vote.

These reforms, including a simple one to ban campaign fundraising while the state budget is being debated, would help to restore public confidence in lawmakers and remove the influence of special interests.

Sadly, four of our local lawmakers were among the many who didn't support reform attempts. Reps. Steve Kestell and Dan LeMahieu and Sen. Glenn Grothman were listed as "public enemies" by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for voting for only one of seven reforms. Sen. Joe Leibham was listed as a "bystander" for supporting two. [my italics]

Glenn typically doesn't like reforms that keep big money from advertising their candidates into office since it violates big money's their freedom of speech. I'm not unsympathetic with that view, but frankly, being the good neo-con that he is, I'm only surprised that Glenn hasn't suggested we go the whole way: privatize government and let the market take care of elections, the way the Illinois governor has.



Publius said...

What exactly is a neo-con, anyway? I see liberals throw this term around frequently - usually as a perjorative - but yet few people use it in any similar or uniform fashion.

Does it have genuine significance or do liberals just use it to try to delegitimize conservatism?

Mpeterson said...

Interesting. My experience has been that the term 'neo-conservative' is used with infinitely greater precision by liberals and progressives than the term "liberal" is used by neo-conservatives.

"Neo-conservative" has a very precise provenance, in fact, in the underlying political praxis of the late Paul Weyrich... who, if I remember this correctly, after Goldwater's defeat in '64 went to the Library of Congress and hand copied out Goldwater's contributor list. That list was the beginning of a new resurgence of conservative thinking -- the version that showed up spectacularly in Ronald Reagan's bid for President.

The reason for adding "neo-" as a prefix was that these conservatives were distinct in many ways from Senator Goldwater (the best treatment of this distinction, to my mind, was in John Dean's book, Conservatives without Conscience. Dean, remember, was (shoot *is*) a Goldwater acolyte who wondered what happened to the conservatism of his mentor. I've wondered that same thing.

Neo-conservatism distinguished itself from traditional conservatives by adding a large dollop of fundamentalist Christianity and patriotic xenophobia to the mix of what had been largely a fiscal conservatism and created the, to my mind, toxic ideology we now see in Senator Grothman -- and in the angry Republicans who asked John McCain how they could possibly be behind in the polls.

We're also seeing this division in the blood letting the Republican Party is about to undergo as fiscal and social conservatives realize that their interests are not the same.

A simpler example of the difference, however, is in Senator Goldwater himself. He was opposed to abortion but was still pro-choice because he believed, as any good conservative should, that the government has no business interfering in the personal, spiritual, or medical, lives of We The People.

So, ironically, the term doesn't de-legitimize conservatism at all -- on the contrary, it's a way of calling attention to the fact that conservatism has simply been coopted by a selfish ideology that has appropriated religious themes and fears in order to get and keep power. For this, all one needs do is look at the way the Bush administration handled its office of Faith Based Initiatives. The Bush Administration never cared about the moral imperatives they'd used to get elected -- it was simply a sham to get people at the bottom of the economic ladder to vote against their own economic self-interests by appealing to their religious convictions.

That's probably a separate argument. :^)

In any case, no. The term neo-con is quite specific.