My letter to the Wall Street Journal in response to Thomas Frank’s recent column Deficit of Trust:

In Thomas Frank’s latest column, he sets up his entire discussion with the straw man premise that the right wing’s “single greatest idea” is “the villainy of government.” This is absurd in every sense of the word that conservatism is understood. Whether it’s the etymological sense of preservation of the state or the political sense of liberalism and freedom, there is no true conservative who seeks to vilify the state. The objection of modern conservatives today centers around the role of government.

He goes on to simplify the conservative position by arguing that the response to the many state failures over the past decades can be summed up with: “What do you expect?” as if the conservative position were that government will always fail at everything it attempts. The difficulty (and blessing) of democracy in general and American democracy in particular is the inefficiency with which government operates in areas where consensus does not exist and government’s role is not clearly defined. This is by design and it protects the liberty of both the individual and the minority. Any student of history will recognize that efficient government is tyranny.

Frank concludes that the problem with government is that it has been run by anti-government politicians. Wrong. The reason government has failed “so spectacularly in our time” is because it has overstepped the limits under which it was originally designed to function. For that matter, we are currently functioning under the most pro-government administration and Congress in the history of this country and strangely enough, they are failing perhaps more spectacularly than any government preceding them. How does Mr. Frank explain this curious circumstance? Why, blame conservatives of course!