I will be one of many speakers at the House Republican Retreat this weekend. I will use the time to speak some about smart immigration reform and about the new media gap –which Scott brown closed, long may his example live– but will ask my audience today for their suggestions as well.
In fact, this country was built by anti-populists. It was built by people like Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln who rejected the idea that the national economy is fundamentally divided along class lines. They rejected the zero-sum mentality that is at the heart of populism, the belief that economics is a struggle over finite spoils. Instead, they believed in a united national economy -one interlocking system of labor, trade and investment.
Hamilton championed capital markets and Lincoln championed banks, not because they loved traders and bankers. They did it because they knew a vibrant capitalist economy would maximize opportunity for poor boys like themselves. They were willing to tolerate the excesses of traders because they understood that no institution is more likely to channel opportunity to new groups and new people than vigorous financial markets.
In their view, government’s role was not to side with one faction or to wage class war. It was to rouse the energy and industry of people at all levels. It was to enhance competition and make it fair -to make sure that no group, high or low, is able to erect barriers that would deprive Americans of an open field and a fair chance. Theirs was a philosophy that celebrated development, mobility and work, wherever those things might be generated.
Hamilton and Lincoln were men of vision and enthusiasm for the future, certain of the country’s ability to grow and take a rising population further and further towards greater and greater freedom and prosperity. Brooks is absolutely right to remind the modern GOP of these towering examples of robust central government, even as it must necessarily demand the immediate, significant downsizing of non-essential federal functions and the out-of-control spending that is threatening the future of the country. (Really, it is. It is a menace, but very few people seem to believe this.)
Suggestions on other message points can be sent to me via firstname.lastname@example.org.