“I will work every day to make Washington, DC as inconsquential in your life as I can,” says Rick Perry as he announces for president. Well, there it is. The 2012 race in a nutshell—”America is not broken. Washington D.C. is broken,” as Perry said, in contrast to Barack Obama’s continuing insistence that government must somehow lead the way out of the economic doldrums with infrastructure banks and payroll tax cuts and extending unemployment insurance. If the dividing line between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats want, in some sense, to direct America from Washington, Republicans believe the United States should not be directed, and should instead be managed as close to the citizenry as possible.
Most people outside Texas know very little about Perry, but given his standing as a kind of amalgam of George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, he may soon occupy an unprecedented position in the imagination of liberals and the Left—perhaps the most frightening specter of anti-liberalism since Ronald Reagan precisely because he is electable. The conservative boogeyman is back.