Supposed conservative reformer Avik Roy wrote an article over at the National Review on Monday trying to get in on all of discussion of the Republican apostates. What he’s trying to do is push back against the argument that many of us have made that these supposed reformers are doing nothing but tinkering around the edges of the dominant (and crazy) Republican center. But Roy claims we progressives are missing the big doings in the conservative pundit world, “Actually, there is something significant going on within conservative circles, something with potentially much longer-lasting effects than a shift on a few policies here and there.”
Ah, you see: we progressive getting all worked up about actual policy. There’s something more important than that! Can you wait to hear? I will torture you no more! “For many of today’s conservative reformers, equality of opportunity—especially for the poor—is the highest moral and political priority.” Ah, that explains it!
The problem here is that there is no such thing as “equality of opportunity”—at least not the way conservatives approach social policy. Last September I wrote:
Right now, our economic inequality makes equality of opportunity a joke. But what do Republicans want to do? They want to make it worse.
Another aspect of this that is ridiculous is that Roy’s argument would mean that Mitt Romney is one of those reformers. And that explains what Roy is really on about. “Equality of opportunity” is not a new philosophy. It is a new talking point. It is a new branding attempt. It is a way for conservatives to cloud their image as heartless villains.
The rest of his article is more or less a declaration of defeat. He says, yes, the reformers believe what the Republican Party believes in. But somehow their priorities are different. And this means that they really do care about the poor. It’s really something to behold. This is especially true if you see his article in the context of the whole Republican branding campaign of the last many months. We already know that the Republican establishment is not willing to do anything other than re-brand their old unpopular ideas. And now Avik Roy is explaining that the same goes for the reformers. Good job, guys!