Republican ideology pitting 'makers' against 'takers' offers nothing

Michael Gerson

The Washington Post

Published: Friday, Sept. 21 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

A few libertarians have wanted this fight ever since they read "Atlas Shrugged" as pimply adolescents. Given Romney's background, record and faith, I don't believe he holds this view. I do believe that Republicans often parrot it, because they lack familiarity with other forms of conservatism that include a conception of the common good.

But there really is no excuse. Republican politicians could turn to Burkean conservatism, with its emphasis on the "little platoons" of civil society. They could reflect on the Catholic tradition of subsidiarity, and solidarity with the poor. They could draw inspiration from Tory evangelical social reformers such as William Wilberforce or Lord Shaftesbury. Or they could just read Abraham Lincoln, who stood for "an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life."

Instead they mouth libertarian nonsense, unable to even describe some of the largest challenges of our time.

Michael Gerson's email address is michaelgerson@washpost.com.

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