Monday, January 09, 2006

Well Said

From Occam's Carbuncle, a Canadian blog:
Wilfrid Laurier[*] once said that the 20th century would belong to Canada. As it turned out, the times were driven by all things American, both good and bad. I don't propose that we should try to take on another whole century as our very own. Rather, I think that what Canada should aim for is simply to become freest nation on earth. Let liberty be our great project. The field is open. . . . We can make personal liberty, autonomy and responsibility the building blocks of our society, our true values. I think they are the strongest and least discussed values of the majority of Canadians. Of course, if you ask ten people what liberty means, you'll get ten different answers. Let's argue about it. Debating the meaning of liberty can't possibly be a waste of time. Making liberty the cornerstone of a country strikes me as a great enterprise.
As "Occam" rightly points out, "America has often been described as the leader of the free world. I don't think they've done much to earn that title in the last few years, with their explosive growth of government at all levels." This has happened, in large part, because the GOP -- which rose to power on the promise of smaller government -- has lost its bearings. OpinionJournal puts it this way:
The real House GOP problem isn't about lobbyists so much as it is the atrophying of its principles. As their years in power have stretched on, House Republicans have become more passionate about retaining power than in using that power to change or limit the federal government. Gathering votes for serious policy is difficult and tends to divide a majority. Re-election unites them, however, so the leadership has gradually settled for raising money on K Street and satisfying Beltway interest groups to sustain their incumbency.

This strategy has maintained a narrow majority, but at the cost of doing anything substantial. The last year in particular was an historic lost opportunity. House Republicans were also the main culprit in watering down Medicare reform, while Ohio's Mike Oxley has run the Financial Services Committee more or less as liberal Barney Frank would. Beyond welfare reform and tax cuts (and perhaps health-savings accounts), the GOP has achieved little in the last decade that will outlast the next Democratic majority.
We Americans may have much to learn from the debate in Canada. We should be paying attention to it.
* From Wikipedia:

The Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier, PC, KC, GCMG, BCL, DCL, LLD, LittD (November 20, 1841February 17, 1919) was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada from July 11, 1896, to October 7, 1911. . . .

Laurier led Canada during a period of rapid growth, industrialization, and immigration. His long career straddles a period of major political and economic change. As Prime Minister he was instrumental in ushering Canada into the 20th century and in gaining greater autonomy from Britain for his country.