Those of us who are conservative believe in government, we just believe government has limits. We want government to do what it does well and respect its limits so civil society and families can flourish on their own and do well and achieve their potential.Damn straight. But before he gets to the real point, he goes all Government 225 Western Political Thought Seminar on us:
Every now and then, he pierces the veil. He’s usually pretty coy about his ideology, but he lets the veil slip from time to time. … His straw man argument is this ridiculous caricature where he’s trying to say if you want any security in life, you stick with me. If you go with these Republicans, they’re going to feed you to the wolves because they believe in some Hobbesian state of nature, and it’s one or the other which is complete bunk, absolutely ridiculous. But it seems to be the only way he thinks he can make his case. He’s deluded himself into thinking that his so-called enemies are these crazy individualists who believe in some dog-eat-dog society when what he’s really doing is basically attacking people like entrepreneurs and stacking up a list of scapegoats to blame for his failures.Emphasis mine. Couldn't agree more, but let's be honest here -- if you were to ask 100 people on the street what a "Hobbesian state of nature" is, how many would know? I'd say the over/under is about 10. Although I would say sneaking the dog-eating reference in there was pretty clever.
His comments seem to derive from a naive vision of a government-centered society and a government-directed economy. It stems from an idea that the nucleus of society and the economy is government not the people. … It is antithetical to the American idea. We believe in free communities, and this is a statist attack on free communities. … As all of his big government spending programs fail to restore jobs and growth, he seems to be retreating into a statist vision of government direction and control of a free society that looks backward to the failed ideologies of the 20th century.
Knowing your audience matters. Now Ryan's remarks appear in a think-tank publication, so I think it's fair to assume that the audience reading James Pethokoukis will get the reference to Hobbes. I would also wager that most people who read this blog would understand the reference as well. But if Ryan is going to take on a larger role, he might want to tone things down a bit. What he's saying is important, but if you need footnotes to understand it, you're going to lose a lot of people. Just sayin'.