If you’re having trouble with your PC and you call for help, one of the first suggestions you’re likely to hear is “reboot.”

Before I began my current life of leisure, I was a professional Computer Guy. I helped support big OpenVMS servers with hundreds of simultaneous users. When our systems were acting flakey, we couldn’t just reboot. Instead, we took a careful look at the status of the system. Memory low? Running out of disk space? Any processes hung up, or running wild? Network trouble?

Sometimes we could fix a problem with a quick command or two. Sometimes we discovered configuration tweaks or software patches to fix the root cause and prevent similar problems in the future. And sometimes we were forced to throw up our hands and simply reboot.

A simple reboot doesn’t actually fix anything. It wipes the current current state of things from your computer’s memory and tries to start fresh, but the fundamental defects that led to your troubles haven’t been fixed, and it’s usually only a matter of time before everything’s snarled up again.

At The Washington Monthly, a number of conservatives are saying it’s time to reboot the conservative movement — Time for us to go:

Christopher Buckley:

Six years of record deficits and profligate expansion of entitlement programs. Incompetent expansion, at that: The actual cost of the President’s Medicare drug benefit turned out, within months of being enacted, to be roughly one-third more than the stated price. Weren’t Republicans supposed to be the ones who were good at accounting?

Bruce Bartlett:

As a conservative who’s interested in the long-term health of both my country and the Republican Party, I have a suggestion for the GOP in 2006: lose. Handing over at least one house of Congress to the other side of the aisle for the next two years would probably be good for everyone. It will improve governance in the country, and it will increase the chances of GOP gains in 2008.

Joe Scarborough:

When The Washington Monthly reached me at my office recently, a voice on the other side of the line meekly asked if I would ever consider writing an article supporting the radical proposition that Republicans should get their brains beaten in this fall.

“Count me in!” was my chipper response. I also seem to remember muttering something about preferring an assortment of Bourbon Street hookers running the Southern Baptist Convention to having this lot of Republicans controlling America’s checkbook for the next two years.

William A. Niskanen:

Divided government is, curiously, less divisive. It’s also cheaper. The basic reason for this is simple: When one party proposes drastic or foolish measures, the other party can obstruct them. The United States prospers most when excesses are curbed, and, if the numbers from the past 50 years are any indication, divided government is what curbs them.

Bruce Fein:

The most conservative principle of the Founding Fathers was distrust of unchecked power. Centuries of experience substantiated that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men are not angels. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition to avert abuses or tyranny. The Constitution embraced a separation of powers to keep the legislative, executive, and judicial branches in equilibrium. As Edward Gibbon wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.”

But a Republican Congress has done nothing to thwart President George W. Bush’s alarming usurpations of legislative prerogatives. Instead, it has largely functioned as an echo chamber of the White House.

Jeffrey Hart:

Today, the standard-bearer of “conservatism” in the United States is George W. Bush, a man who has taken the positions of an unshakable ideologue: on supply-side economics, on privatization, on Social Security, on the Terri Schiavo case, and, most disastrously, on Iraq. Never before has a United States president consistently adhered to beliefs so disconnected from actuality.

Richard Viguerie:

If Big Government Republicans behave so irresponsibly and betray the people who elected them, while we blindly, slavishly continue backing them, we establish that there is no price to pay for violating conservative principles.

In the Washington Post, Scarborough suggests that Republicans should just blame George W. Bush: Save Yourself, Blame Bush

How exactly does one convince the teeming masses that Republicans deserve to stay in power despite botching a war, doubling the national debt, keeping company with Jack Abramoff, fumbling the response to Hurricane Katrina, expanding the government at record rates, raising cronyism to an art form, playing poker with Duke Cunningham, isolating America and repeatedly electing Tom DeLay as their House majority leader?

How does a God-fearing Reagan Republican explain all that away?

Easy. Blame George W. Bush.

I can’t help thinking that what these guys want most is, before the 2008 elections, to wipe from the voters’ memory the fact that Republicans got us into this mess.

A simple reboot doesn’t actually fix anything. It’s not enough to put the Democrats into a position to share blame for the deeply screwed-up state of the nation. We’ve got to root out the fundamentally defective ideas that have got us into this state.