Another fissure has just opened up in the Republican Party, one I’m hoping Rob can help us understand.
GOP establishment commentator David Gerson fired a volley in a column I ran Saturday, arguing that the GOP moderates are ceding too much ideological ground to anti-government extremists. Gerson challenges the assumption that the Founders were tea party conservatives:
The Federalist founders did not view government as a necessary evil. They referred to the “imbecility” of a weak federal government (in the form of the Articles of Confederation) compared to a relatively strong central government, which is what the Constitution actually created. Though they feared the concentration of too much power in one branch of government, they believed that good government was essential to promote what they referred to as the “public good.”
And they assumed that the content of the public good would shift over time. “Constitutions of civil government,” argued Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 34, “are not to be framed upon a calculation of existing exigencies, but upon a combination of these with the probable exigencies of ages. … Nothing, therefore, can be more fallacious than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be lodged in the national government from an estimate of its immediate necessities. There ought to be a CAPACITY to provide for future contingencies as they may happen.”