Although I disagree with the way McGurn glosses over the problems with the Bush administration, I think he’s basically right in framing the argument between elites who think they know best for everyone else, and those who trust individuals to exercise liberty in a marketplace. It’s too bad Republicans have tarnished their brand by embracing some of the same elitism. We need government to be a fair referee, not a big brother or controlling nanny.
At a time when many claim to see no difference between the two political parties, President Obama and his Democratic allies are making one distinction paramount: their operating assumption that bigger government is better government.
Many of the people in the Obama administration, the president included, enjoy all the credentials we associate with the best and the brightest: the right schools, the good grades, the successful careers. Alas, whether it be allocating health care or defining the kind of jobs the economy ought to create, the policies they favor suggest a strong belief that they know what's best not just for themselves, but for everyone else too.
Of course, the kind of people who are apt to push for government-imposed solutions are those who are also apt to believe they will be the ones imposing decisions, not the ones who have to live with decisions imposed by others... Mostly, however, their trust in government reflects their confidence that they have all the answers and that it's government's job to enforce them.
What about conservatives? Don't we have confidence in our judgment and abilities? Of course we do. The difference is that we trust free citizens to make decisions about themselves—and are skeptical about government…. That's because conservatives believe that even our smartest friend is no match for the collective wisdom of the marketplace.