The Dernogalizer

April 11, 2009

A Warning to Conservatives: Don’t Emulate the Brits

Filed under: National Politics — Eugene Huskey @ 10:50 pm
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British conservatives are once again on the rise. American conservatives: Don’t be fooled.

Since last year’s electoral wipeout, the Republican Party has been in a debate over how to remake itself. Some have pointed to Britain’s Conservative Party, which is today poised — after 12 long years — to regain power.

David Cameron

Conservative Party leader David Cameron, some say, has crafted a “modern conservatism” which is well past all that talk of free markets, tax cuts and individual freedom. This conservatism is caring and recognizes the role of government; it connects with citizens and worries about day care and global warming. If only the GOP would emulate its British cousins, so the argument goes, it might forge that lasting conservative majority.

It’s true the British Conservatives are on track to win next year’s general election. It is also true that this has little to do with the non-philosophy the Conservatives have been spinning to the public. The next election will instead be a referendum on a worn-out Labour movement. If Conservatives win, it will be because the party has made itself less offensive to the electorate than those currently in charge. And that, American friends, is no way to rebuild a party.

It’s not that they don’t offer lessons, in particular what not to do after a big defeat. The Conservatives were bounced in 1997 after the British public wearied of a party more redolent of corruption than the Thatcher revolution. (Sound familiar?) It chose a young, charismatic politician named Tony Blair who promised change and argued the nation could have it all — a strong, free-market economy and a big, caring government. (Also sound familiar?)

The initial conservative response was to try to “reconnect” with the British people, though not via serious policy discussions. Leader William Hague appeared at a theme park wearing a baseball cap, hoping to appeal to younger voters.

To the extent the party did engage in policy debates, it was in the context of factions warring with each other over issues such as support for the European Union. It failed to take a hard line on the corruption that hurt the party. As it floundered, it increasingly stoked populist passions, in particular anti-immigration fervor or opposition to the Iraq War.

Mr. Cameron came to power in 2005, promising to transform the party. What he did was indulge a particular British paranoia that the Conservatives are viewed as the party that doesn’t care.

Much of the  “modern conservatism” consists of reassuring voters about what they won’t do. It won’t dismantle a failing national health-care system. It won’t disavow failing public schools. It won’t resist higher tax rates on the “rich.” Beyond this bold agreement with the status quo, the party has refused to articulate its own agenda, lest any part go down badly with voters.

Mr. Cameron has been at this revamp for years, but only recently did Conservatives start to gain traction. This coincided closely with growing public anger with the Labour Party and its new leader, Gordon Brown.

Polls show the public is furious with Labour’s handling of the financial crisis, which also helped expose a dozen years of unrestrained Labor spending. The party has been hit with an embarrassing scandal tied to parliamentarians’ perks. Mr. Brown, in his nearly two years as prime minister, has enraged voters with tax hikes and by reneging on a promise to hold early elections. Mr. Cameron has carefully avoided giving them a reason to dislike the alternative.

Many Conservatives here fear Mr. Cameron will become prime minister, only to be quickly exposed as a poll-driven “heir to Blair” who treads water a few years and then loses. What every American should understand is that this is not a test of “modern conservatism.” It’s a test only of whether an opposition that voices no coherent ideology can succeed when the ruling party stumbles.

Caution! The Huskey Is Here.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eugene Huskey @ 9:29 pm
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Gene Huskey

Hey, everyone!

My name is Eugene Huskey, but I go by Gene. I am friend of Matt, and he invited me to start posting  here. I am honest and forthright, so i will go ahead and mention that I am a conservative. There I said it. What makes me different than most conservatives is I realise that not all aspects of the conservative ideology are good. I am fairly progressive in that I agree with alot of the views that Matt has expressed in his posts on here. While I Matt and I agree on many things, there are many others we do not agree on. Which is the reason behind me posting on here and provide a fresh perspective on many topics ranging from environmental to budgetary and foreign policy issues. I look forward to sharing my opinions and also look forward to hearing yours.

Steny Hoyer

There is a great op-ed out today by my Congressman and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on the importance of a smart grid for energy conservation, energy savings, renewable energy, and fighting climate change. It’s a very good sign out of Hoyer’s office, and shows that Hoyer has the right mindset and ideas when it comes to these issues. I’m going to post the entire op-ed after I make a few comments about Hoyer.

I made a post a couple of weeks ago about how House Democrats had introduced a climate bill. I also stressed at the end the importance of pressuring House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on the climate bill, and how I was organizing a town hall meeting on May 11 to talk with him about it. Here is what I said:

“I also want to take this chance to put in a plug for an event occurring in Maryland. My Congressman is Steny Hoyer, who also happens to be the House Majority Leader, making him one of the most powerful politicians in the country. He is going to be responsible for rallying the conservative Democrats on that committee and on the House floor to support a strong climate bill. On Monday May 11th from 6:30 to 8 pm, Steny Hoyer will be attending the University of Maryland campus to participate in a Clean Energy Town Hall Meeting. The room location is to be determined shortly. This climate bill that Markey and Waxman have introduced is going to be marked up and written in the month of May. It’s Waxman’s goal to have the bill out of committee by Memorial Day. This is probably the best chance for all of us in Maryland and in Hoyer’s district to influence what this bill is going to look like. Contact me if you’re interested in going at mdernoga@umd.edu

Don’t miss it for the world.”

In case you want to register for the event, you can do it on the facebook group webpage, or you can go here

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Viewpoint: ‘Smart grid,’ big savings

It’s the principle behind every clearance sale: The less a product is in demand, the less it sells for. So why can’t we extend the same principle to one of the most basic commodities of all – electricity?

The demand for electricity fluctuates every day. It tends to be highest in the afternoon (when people are at work and when lights, computers and heating and cooling are running at full blast) and lowest at night. But most people can’t take full advantage of the lowest-demand hours, because homes can’t “talk back” to utilities. Your home and your utility still have a primitive way of communicating: a meter that can’t do more than spin faster or slower.

Imagine, though, that your home knew the cost of power from second to second. Imagine that it could tell you that power’s source, from a coal-fired plant to a wind farm. Imagine that you could sell electricity back to the grid. Those steps add up to one of the biggest energy innovations on the horizon: the “smart grid,” or what author Thomas L. Friedman calls the “Energy Internet.”

When energy is combined with real-time communication, you’ll be able to load your dryer and dishwasher before you go to sleep but program them to start only when electricity hits its lowest price. You’ll be able charge your car battery at night and then sell back excess power after work, or you could sell the energy you harvest from your own solar panel. During storms, the sources of power outages will be easier to pinpoint, and your lights will come back on faster. And by selecting the best times to use clean power sources, your utility will be able to shrink its carbon footprint.

These steps could save you hundreds of dollars a year and help us all use energy more efficiently, getting more output from fewer plants and expanding our use of renewable resources.

And these advances are coming sooner than you may think. President Barack Obama and Congress have designed an economic recovery plan that paves the way for future growth by investing in some of our country’s most important long-term priorities. Upgrading our grid is one of the most promising of those investments. That’s why the recovery plan sets aside $4.5 billion, in the form of cost-shared grants, to match smart grid investments by utilities. With many utilities already planning on upgrades, this federal support will reduce the costs they would pass on to consumers.

Creating a smart grid means updating everything from home meters and appliances to transmission and distribution lines and communication systems. It will be a piecemeal process, because America has many regional electric systems, some using the latest technology, and some getting by with infrastructure that dates back to the New Deal.

Parts of Maryland, such as Bethesda and Fort Washington, are ready to upgrade distribution and meters; other regions, such as parts of Southern and Western Maryland, may need line upgrades first. In that respect, we’re a microcosm of America, and we can’t afford to leave either kind of region behind. We can’t install smart meters in some homes while we leave others dependent on decades-old lines. Energy independence and climate change are national challenges, and we can only face them by improving efficiency everywhere.

We know that completing the smart grid will take a sustained commitment, but we also know that it will mean jobs for American workers today, and cheaper energy and a cleaner environment tomorrow.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland is the majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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