One of the oddest aspects of the last six months has been the degree to which the Republican base has embraced symbolic (9-9-9) over substantive (Paul Ryan) positions on entitlement reform from the GOP Presidential field. Why is this happening? Over at Redstate.com, bastion of populist conservatism, Dan McLaughlin thinks he has the answer. But in fact, his essay answers a different question: why it is that conservative voters remain woefully unprepared to tackle the fiscal challenges ahead.
“There’s been a lot of talk,” Dan opens, “about the struggle between the GOP ‘Establishment’ and ‘Outsiders,’ sometimes—but sometimes not—meaning the Tea Party…it’s time to clarify the core issue that has people…scratching their heads at their own constituents.” So what is it that divides conservatives? Is it social issues? Knowledge of French? “The answer is a simple one: it’s almost entirely about spending.”
According to Dan, the divide between the Establishment and the Outsiders is their commitment to reducing government spending. “There is general philosophical agreement among both Republicans and conservatives about [the need to reduce spending]. Where the fault line lies is in exactly how far we are willing to go to do something about it.” According to Dan, the establishmentarian candidates are “the two Northeasterners,” Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Rick Perry and Ron Paul as the outsiders and Newt Gingrich “in the middle.”