So, yesterday, Instapundit linked a piece entitled "Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism." The phrase (by Randy Barnett, who led the fight against Obamacare all the way to the Supreme Court) struck me because I've heard it several times lately from others. One of those others has been asked to join the new administration.
I'd like to propose that you take stock of some of your recent reactions, to see how much of them entail a defensive crouch. Do you find yourself thinking or saying things like these?
* There's no point in working with the left, because they always change the rules.
* No part of government can be trusted.
* We can't afford to compromise or we'll get rolled.
Those are defensive reactions, which are understandable given eight years out of power. What you have in front of you is the opportunity to change these things.
* You won't have to work with the left, because Republicans will control the whole government. They have to decide whether to work with you. Are there things they want that you also want? Those things can now be used to your advantage, as reasons to get them to go along with your larger program.
* The broken parts of the government can be fixed -- or better yet, insofar as they conflict with the 10th Amendment, reduced or eliminated. The government will work a lot better if it is a lot smaller, for the reasons we've so often discussed regarding Schumpeter and ossification. It also happens to be the Constitutional thing to do.
* Don't get rolled, get involved. This is your chance -- and it may be the last chance -- to change the course of the American nation for something healthier and better.
Trump can't do it alone, and frankly he may not be up to the task. He lacks the experience we'd have looked for by preference, he does have some conflicts of interest that will dog him, and he may not have the proper temperament or mindset for the job he's undertaking. But all of you have something to offer to the things you care about most. Each of you has a certain expertise that could help in the monumental task of reform that stands ahead of us. It won't happen if we don't find ways to help make it happen.
I'm not suggesting that you should all rush off to join the Trump administration. It may be that more important things exist to be done at the state or local level, or that your own expertise better fits something closer to home. Nor am I suggesting that we should all pull together to support Trump, right or wrong. I think he'll be wrong a lot of the time, and one of the most important things we should be doing is pulling in the right direction when he tries to go in the wrong one.
I am suggesting it's time to stop thinking defensively about the government, and start thinking offensively. It's time to start hitting, making reforms, devising strategies and then implementing them. Do it wherever you can, wherever you are. This is a chance, but it's only a chance, it's no more than a chance, and it'll likely come to little good without you. Find a place to push.