|They can get away with being against government because the citizens are well-enough governed by the existing government institutions that they can ignore what their legislators are doing and disengage from the process. Warnings about pending service cutoffs or park closings are seen as attention-seeking efforts to scare the public, politicians once again "crying wolf." This view is not without merit, because responsible Democratic legislators always cave at the last minute so the oxygen tanks can be delivered. This scare-and-retreat game has been going on for years and the public it tuned out. But just as with the economy, one day the consequences of the policies will hit with a vengeance.
To conservatives scorning one's responsibility to govern is a badge of honor. Actually governing once elected to office is not the point of running for office. Modern-day Republican Party politics is not about governing, not even a little bit. It is about being against governing.
Thinking about all of this - Palin, Bush and California - I wondered how it can develop that a political party can actually be against government and governing. How can they get away with it?
Some time ago I realized that the tax cut policies that started under Reagan depended entirely on the country living off the existing infrastructure built up during the years of good government. We had roads and bridges and courts and schools in place, so the tax-cutters could just defer needed maintenance and hand the "savings" to the rich as tax cuts. They could cut back on sending kids to college and the resulting societal damage would not show up for a decade or more. There were all kinds of things that could be deferred and deferred before the damage became apparent.
The conclusion has to be that it is the very same government they hate and vow to destroy that enables them to hold the positions they hold. If they were not sitting atop the product of decades of good government, built with high taxes, they could not gain an audience at all.
Imagine a rural farm community in 1800, meeting to determine how to get a road built so the farmers can deliver their yearly harvest to a nearby river-port. Imagine the conservatives arguing against taxing the townspeople and building the road. Imagine them arguing against public courts and schools. Imagine them arguing that the big farm upstream had the "right" to dump hog poop into or just shut off the water supply because they "own" the land it runs across.
Imagine an expanding city allowing conservatives to argue that it should be up to individuals to contract with private companies competing to bring water to their houses or pipe away their sewage.
Today we still see what happens when the public engages and examines conservative positions and their consequences. Every time conservative anti-government efforts reach a level that affects the public the voters react in horror and shoot them down. When Katrina exposed what conservative policies actually mean to real people in real life the public was horrified. When the economic collapse exposed what conservative policies actually mean to an economy, the public was horrified.
Conservatives depend on good government for their positions, and on trickery to hide the consequences of their positions from the public.