Victims or Visionaries?: Right Needs to Seize Upon Big Issues

Over at R Street, Andrew Moylan makes a fascinating comment regarding President Obama’s recent speech on climate change and his plan to reduce carbon emissions. To wit: doesn’t matter much what your personal opinion is on carbon emissions and their relationship (or lack of relationship) to the already-defined-as-fact (accurately or not) science of climate change, the issue will be addressed by the federal government:

Moylan concluded by saying, “Regardless of one’s views on climate change, the simple reality is that federal policy is going to address the matter. That can happen through ill-advised regulations, like those proposed by the President today, or it can happen through a vibrant market with clear price signals attached to all fuels. Conservatives should seize the opportunity to once again emphasize the superiority of free markets over central planning.”

On climate change and the President’s plan specifically, it’s hard to accept something that will cost the country hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and $1.47 trillion of lost national income by 2030, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation. And, to Moylan’s point, it’s a situation conservatives, libertarians, and those who lean center-right on economic issues should begin to get in front of by doing the work of presenting their own plans to address something people are convinced needs addressing.

Which brings us to the larger point: many of the pressing issues today — from gay marriage to climate change to the provision of health insurance — all seem to be efforts to fix problems that were either blown out of proportion or barely existed at all. The Affordable Care Act is a good example of this. There could conceivably be more people uninsured post ACA — which, remember, was sold as a way to ensure affordable healthcare existed for all — than before that Overton window shifted. If the solution to the problem is worse than the problem, there’s at least a rational argument to be made that, retroactively, the problem wasn’t much of a problem by comparison.

Which is why Moylan’s point is such a good and timely one. This administration deals in hyperbole about these issues — and there’s plenty of debate as to why they do that — while ignoring the issues they should be nearly panicked about (jobs, unsustainable illegal immigration, shrinking markets, deteriorating international relationships). But this is the administration we have and they WILL act on their pet projects, whether conservatives and libertarians agree that those are the pressing issues or not.

So, it’s best to get out in front of these things now and begin formulating plans that make rational economic sense, and electing leaders who are at least willing to put their reputations on the line to try to play on the ballfield created during the Obama administration. (Rubio takes a hit for capitulating but he seems to understand the general point here, agree with his tactics or not).

Otherwise we to the right of the push toward an overreaching nanny state become what we accuse liberals of celebrating for political gain: victims.

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