A small tussle among liberal bloggers was engaged yesterday in responses to Matt Yglesias' claim that "conservatives" haven't really been all that successful in enacting their agenda since 1964. Kevin Drum chimed in with basic agreement ("Matt is right") and Brad DeLong seconded the motion ("It's twue! It's twue!").
Nathan Newman pointed out the big big hole in this liberal retort.
So arguably, the mainstream conservatives may have been defeated in some of their goals, but the corporate wing-- which funded Ronald Reagan's rise to power -- has been quite successful.What Newman is too polite or coy to point out is that liberals like Yglesias, Drum and DeLong reflect the interests and ideology of the new middle class. Thus it's no surprise that things like union-smashing, deregulation, capital mobility, lower real wages, shifting tax burden, privatization, imperialism and free trade are all ignored by them, because these are working class issues. To liberals, getting bigger government, birth control, working mothers, abortion rights and gay marriage is far more significant than anything going on at the bottom rungs of the class struggle.
It is the case that the Goldwater agenda of small government has been soundly turned back, but capital was never really on board this project in the first place. Capital likes a big state if that state can and will do capital's bidding, and that is more or less what Republicans have accomplished since the days of Reagan. The "conservatives" in the US House ranting about the "guvment" would never give up management of a floating dollar, corporate welfare or defense contractor largesse, after all.
In response to this liberal tussle, the General can only quote Floyd B. Olson, the great Farmer-Labor Governor of Minnesota, who once said,
I am frank to say that I am not a liberal. I enjoy working on a common basis with liberals for their platforms, etc., but I am not a liberal. I am what I want to be -- I am a radical.