Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rauch & Reason

Perhaps I'm extraordinarily late to the party, but I became an instant fan of Jonathan Rauch over the weekend. He's been a writer for many years for publications like National Journal, Reason, and The Economist. He seems just the type of reasonable, self-aware centrist that I find so compelling.

I found him while reading my Reason RSS feed, where editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie interviews Rauch. The link is here. Some highlights:

"...it is clear that the average Republican member of Congress is to the right of the average Republican partisan, who is to the right of the average American. You have the same leaning in the opposite direction in the Democratic Party. Reflect on the fact that until fairly recently, the House Majority Leader was Tom Delay (R-Texas) and the House Minority Leader was Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Just think about how much of the country that leaves out. That is not a coincidence."


"I'm a radical incrementalist. I believe in fomenting revolutionary change on a geological timescale. Life is long. We don't have to do everything right away. I'm a little bit of a fatalist about solving problems and reforming things for the sake of it. I think we have to be careful that a lot of reform is just movement."


"When you get right down to it, there doesn't seem to be really much of a constituency in this country for reducing the size of government in painful or unpleasant ways. Even Barry Goldwater, when he ran for president, announced that he wouldn't cut any farm subsidies, for example.

Government is an enormous ecosystem. It is, in its way, as decentralized and unmanageable as the ecosystem out there in nature. You can change the input and you'll get some change in the output, but if I've learned one thing in 25 years in Washington, it's that there far too many interests and actors for any politician to do more than work the margins. But working the margins is very, very important."


I think Maureen Dowd is very good at what she does. But the problem is that lots of people who aren't any good at it think this is journalism."


reason: You have a favorite bit of advice to younger people, don't you?

Rauch: Don't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer.

There is also a link to an excellent article he wrote in early 1996 for Reason analyzing the early results on the reform battle between the Gingrich Congress and President Clinton. Much of it is as relevant today as then.

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