There are key historical convergences that the neo-conservative movement has with Blue Dog Reaganite. Namely, the fact they are not knee-jerk against the use of government in the domestic sphere, but want it used more creatively. In the years that followed, this would give rise to domestic proposals like the ones championed by the late Jack Kemp, a former House member, Cabinet secretary and vice-presidential nominee. Ideas like enterprise zone tax breaks to re-vitalize the inner cities and expanding freedom of choice in education. I am generally supportive of these efforts, and believe they represent a real desire to get to a healthy balance when it comes to government’s role in helping people get started on the way to prosperity.
But in the foreign policy realm, that same sense of balance has gone astray. The movement that knew government’s limits when it came to domestic policy, has given itself over to hubris when it comes to doing good abroad. Launching global crusades for democracy, even building an American Empire, are accepted models of thought. One prominent neo-conservative (Ken Adelman, former defense official in the Reagan Administration) went so far as to say the Iraq takeover would be a cakewalk.
Furthermore, neo-conservatives have become increasingly intolerant of anyone who doesn’t toe their line in this global push for democracy. They have hidden behind “the troops” in their rhetoric all too frequently in the attempt to cover over policy failures—or in the case of Iraq, gross misjudgments on how easy it would it be.
Neo-conservatism is an area where there’s potentially a lot of agreement. But only if they return to their roots, drop the crusading rhetoric, get an attitude adjustment and re-develop a cohesive approach to the problems and possibilities with government at home and abroad.