The left often alleges that conservatives don't merely dislike government but deliberately undermine it for political or financial gain (and sometimes both). Daily Kos blogger Mark Sumner chimed in to that effect this past Sunday.
Sumner writes that conventional wisdom blames "rising incivility" and "simple intransigence" for Washington's failure to accomplish much of anything, but that in reality the central issue is "sabotage. 2013 Republicans are the 1919 Black Sox of politics, and the fix is in." This deliberate destabilization, Sumner argues, started more than three decades ago:
...[S]tarting in the 1980s, the GOP has set themselves up...as the party of anti-governance...Republicans have worked hard to build an identity as the party that's not out to reform Washington, but out to destroy it. By cementing this identification, they feel there's nothing to lose, and everything to gain, in making the system fail.
In setting themselves as the "government is bad" party, the GOP feels that every failure of government only confirms their message, only makes their position stronger. It's something like the pattern in which a pyromaniac starts fires so he can have an opportunity to become a hero...only the GOP lets the fires burn, because their goal is to prove that the fire department is useless. The Republican Party is hell-bent on a United States government that is weak, insolvent, and incompetent. And they’re getting what they want [emphasis added].
Sumner claims that these days, conservatism isn't based on ideas or policy, but rather on surly, mindless, rigid anti-statist attitude:
Being a modern conservative has little to do with positions on taxes, or abortion, or anything else. What's demanded is intransigence, an allegiance to the idea that all government is evil and an unwillingness to cooperate on any subject at any time...Why is Lindsey Graham at the top of every conservative hit list? Not because his positions have crept in one inch from the extreme right, but because he dares think there's still a role for action in the Senate. That kind of thinking no longer fits with the modern GOP. Conservatism is now measured on a scale of how willing the candidate is to kneecap America...
...When some complete idiot in either chamber (say Ted Cruz or Rand Paul) launches into a nonsensical tirade that only leaves everyone more certain that Congress is entirely populated by candidates chosen from under rocks...they cheer. When we see failure, stupidity, inaction and frustration...they know they've done their job. In the next round of elections, just as in the one before that, and the one before that, Republicans are planning to rush back to the voters with a message of “see, government is no good” and counting on the voters to reward them for making that statement true [emphasis added]...