Rick Perry, Government Reform, & Moving The Conversation

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Governor Perry freaked out the political class this week by suggesting bold government reforms like these [it’s only 19 seconds long]:

Oh wait! That’s not Governor Perry! That’s Ronald Reagan and he was suggesting the same thing. He even talked specifically about getting rid of 75,000 government employees.

Doug Mataconis, resident cynic and Outside The Beltway (misnamed–should be Conventional Wisdom) blogger, says this:

In reality, though, much like Perry’s own chances to win the Republican nomination, there’s very little chance any of these ideas would ever see the light of day. To the extent Perry intended to propose a real plan, he failed here. Instead, all we’ve got are gimmicks.

Gimmicks, eh?

Rhetoric is not a gimmick. And a Ron Paulian purist like Doug Mataconis should feel slightly ashamed for attacking a candidate that has little chance of success. I would wager that Rick Perry’s chances are far greater than Ron Paul’s.

But back to the point.

America has been pushed leftward both rhetorically and policy-wise for years. Bush senior, Clinton, and then George W. Bush all believed in a sort of government care-taker state. Most damaging to the body rhetoric was “Compassionate Conservatism”–a phrase that ceded rhetorical ground to the mean ways of big government and socialism.

It’s frankly rather astonishing that a libertarian would complain about a plan to get rid of government departments, but then, that’s what libertarians do. They complain.

For too long, self-reliance, ingenuity, creativity, personal responsibility, American exceptionalism, optimism, and all those other plucky American values have given way to Obama’s maudlin mealy-mouthed malaise.

Words matter. Rhetoric matters.

No one wants empty words. Words and ideas push in the opposite direction, lead the mind and heart different ways and open the policy world to ideas that have been long maligned are NOT empty. They’re purposeful.

Just like Ronald Reagan knew what he was doing when facing Debbie Downer Jimmy Carter, Rick Perry knows what he’s doing facing Bob the Blamer Obama.

Politics is about deeds AND words. Rick Perry has the deeds covered. One only has to look at his Texas record of reform and conservative (and yes, libertarian) change to see that.

A leader, though, must also use words and push ideas. For those having trouble with Perry’s government reform plan, pretend you’re a teenager again. Perry’s plan is like a kid asking for a 2 am curfew when he really wants 1 am or even midnight. He’s still getting to stay out later than he wanted.

Rick Perry is pushing the envelope and he knows it. So did Reagan, though, and Reagan’s words and ideas pushed America into a couple decades of growth and prosperity.

Words and ideas matter. They are the precursor of policy. The libs know this, which is why they’re howling. What’s confusing is why a libertarian would be bothered by small government rhetoric and a plan to match it.