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Senator Phil Gramm CREDIT Blaming the Symptom BY TODD BASCH DEAD RIGHT By David Flinn. 230 pp. New York: New Republic/Basic Books. $23.00 THE END OF THE 1994 midterm election campaign brings the beginning of the 1996 presidential race, and Phil Gramm’s starting gun just fired. Over the next two years, the story of Gramm’s run for the presidency will unfold, and as far as David Frum is concerned the tale will end happily if Gramm finishes in first place. Gramm is the “most articulate and impassioned promarket voice in the Senate,” and he has “a strong voting record for less government.” Free markets and small government are Frum’s fundamental political principles and Gramm fights for them, says Frum, more than any other presidential prospect. With Gramm at the top of the political pile, all the ills caused by the welfare state, which are at the root of almost all our social and economic problems, might be remedied. “Big government” invites people to avoid work and to self-indulge, it allows people “to engage in destructive behavior without immediately suffering the consequences.” “Without welfare and food stamps,” Frum tells us, “poor people would cling harder to working-class respectability….” Frum is an advocate of “risk,” which is the “overwhelming fact of a capitalist economy…”; risk “makes people circumspect, it disciplines them and teaches them selfcontrol.” The Welfare State takes the risk out of life. These beliefs drive Fnim’s critique of many of his fellow Republicans, who are supposed to harbor the same love of competitive capitalism that he does. Frum divides modern Republicans into three camps: “optimists, moralists, and nationalists,” represented, respectively, by Jack Kemp, former secretary of Housing and Todd Basch is working on a doctorate in Austin. Urban Development; William Bennett, former head of the Education Department and the nation’s first Drug Czar; and Pat Buchanan, Nixon speechwriter, pundit and Presidential candidate. Kemp is the supplyside standard bearer bent on lowering taxes, but willing to use government programs to address urban decay; Bennett sees the major ills of the United States residing in issues of character and culture, and hopes to make things right with a revolution in values, but he still retains faith in the “potentialities of government”; Buchanan is one of the most vocal and effective mouthpieces for social conservatism, but his willingness to pander to protectionism belies conservative economic principles. All three, in short, have streaks of the staunch conservative principles that inspire Frum, but because optimists, moralists and nationalists are willing to live with elements of big government, they ruin real conservatism. Such, as Frum sees it, is the sorry state of Republicanism. Dead Right proceeds with two basic assumptions. First, Frum assumes that there is abundant opportunity in the United States. He observes that there were 18 mil lion jobs created in the Reagan years and “work had been available for anyone who wanted it.” A second assumption is that the “majoritarian morality” is unfriendly to homosexuals, abortion, sexual license and “permissiveness” in general. Frum needs these assumptions to make his case that welfare is the root of all evil. If there were no jobs, joblessness could not be blamed on the jobless; if the majoritywho are not on welfarewere permissive, then welfare could not be blamed for permissiveness. Frum obviously shares with the Religious Right a yearning for social and cultural conservatism, but one of the more interesting aspects of Dead Right is its insistence that religious conservatives are not a threat to Republican unity. They are only a “Pseudo-Menace.” According to Frum, “there is no Religious Right.” The movement described as such by the press and lamented by moderate Republicans does not exist. The big rift in the Republican Party divides “libertarian Republicans,” like Governor William Weld of Massachusetts, who supports legal abortion and gay rights, and socially conservative Republicans like THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19