A lot of Democrats have envied the united PR campaigns that Republicans have been able to maintain, with the same talking points faithfully repeated across blogs, talk radio, TV pundit shows, and newspaper columns. Mark Schmitt reminds us that such unity has its price, and the Republicans might be paying the price right now.
A command-control system like the White House-led Republican congressional system can be absolutely formidable for a certain period of time. But when it breaks down, it breaks down completely. The collapse is sudden, and total….
The irony of all this for conservatives is that if they actually read Hayek and got anything out of it other than “government sucks,” they would know this. Hayek’s libertarianism was very pragmatic. Centrally controlled systems are flawed above all because they have no mechanism to correct their own errors, unlike distributed, self-organized systems. The Democrats in the Clinton years always operated in chaos, no one followed the party line, and there was a cost to that, but in the chaos and improvisation they found ways to get out of the holes that they had dug for themselves. The Rove/DeLay/Frist system doesn’t have any means for correcting its mistakes—look at the blank, lost looks on the faces of Senators Lugar and Chafee yesterday when they just had no idea what to do with a nomination that had fallen apart and couldn’t fulfill their promises.
Schmitt calls his posting “What the Republicans Could Learn from Hayek”. But Democrats could learn something here, too.