Skip to comments.Compassionate Conservatism Lost
Posted on 11/09/2006 7:25:30 AM PST by Small-L
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, likely new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the media will portray Tuesday's takeover as a repudiation of President Bush's leadership on the war in Iraq. The public's media-tinted perception of U.S. progress in Iraq, and its subsequent willingness to vote for Democratic House and Senate candidates does not, however, fully explain the switch in party control. No explanation of the Democrats' takeover is complete without laying partial blame on President Bush's so-called compassionate conservative agenda.
The term compassionate conservatism was coined by University of Texas professor and World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky in Olasky's 2000 book titled Compassionate Conservatism: What it is, What it Does, and How it Can Transform America. In an October 21, 2006 Wall Street Journal profile, Bush's former chief speechwriter Michael Gerson described the president's governing philosophy this way: "Compassionate conservatism is the theory that the government should encourage the effective provision of social services without providing the service itself."
Bush's big-government policies have certainly transformed America, but they are not even in the same neighborhood as true limited-government conservatism. Worse, the president, his advisors, the Republican National Committee and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have alienated the party's conservative base of activists and voters.
Compassionate conservatism first brought us the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. NCLB further consolidated federal oversight of education in an era when local control was the mantra of conservative voters and Republican congressional candidates.
Compassionate conservatism gave us the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. A Heritage Foundation report on the Medicare trustees' estimates finds that "Medicare's long-term debt, based on a 75-year actuarial projection, is now estimated to be $32.4 trillion. Of that amount, $8 trillion is directly attributable to the Medicare prescription drug entitlement." The prescription drug bill is one of the largest expansions of the entitlement state in our nation's history.
Bush has further abandoned fiscal conservatism on federal spending, one of the bedrock principles of conservative ideology. According to Richard Viguerie, author of Conservatives Betrayed, federal spending rose by 4.7 percent in President Clinton's first term, and 3.7 percent in his second term. Federal spending rose 19.2 percent in Bush's first term alone.
Too many Republicans in the House and Senate have enabled the compassionate conservative ruse by refusing to lead on true conservative solutions. The flawed structures of the Social Security and Medicare programs continue to consume a larger portion of federal tax receipts and will soon go bankrupt. The federal income tax code is an unfair burden on every taxpayer, yet few Republicans have joined the march to replace the code with a consumption tax. Our energy prices remain largely at the mercy of Middle East sheiks and South American madmen, yet our political leaders lack the will to authorize consumption of our own abundant oil and natural gas resources.
Now that Democrats have seized control of the House, and possibly the Senate, the president is poised to deliver the knockout blow to conservative voters, the conservative movement and the very Constitution itself. In a most bitter twist of irony, Democratic control of Congress would finally allow Bush to enact his amnesty scheme for the tens of millions of illegal aliens within our borders. Amnesty for illegal aliens is not compassionate, nor is it conservative. It is unconstitutional.
Compassionate conservatism failed America and cost Republicans control. Bush's guiding philosophy attempted to co-opt the liberal Democratic strategy of campaign to the right, and govern from the middle. To accomplish that feat one must pander to all interest groups, and hope the traditional base stays home on Election Day. If you recall, Bush's predecessor in the White House utilized the exact same strategy. He called it triangulation.
Conservative voters do not support moderate policy solutions, and they reject moderate Republicans who masquerade as conservative voices. Soon after Fox News declared Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. the victor over Republican Senator Rick Santorum, Fox election analysts called Santorum a "compassionate conservative" who looks for government solutions to issues. Republican In Name Only senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) were similarly ousted in the Tuesday Night Massacre. Moderate to conservative-leaning Democrats also replaced many Republican House members.
Republican candidates lose when the party apparatus, whose goal is to win elections, abandons the conservative base, whose goal is conservative policy solutions. Just two years ago Bush and Santorum unconscionably endorsed liberal Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who was in a primary race with conservative Congressman Pat Toomey. Specter won the primary, but Santorum ultimately paid the price. In this year's Rhode Island Republican Senate primary, the RNC openly supported liberal Senator Lincoln Chafee against his more conservative opponent, Steve Laffey. Sen. Chafee is one of the most liberal members of the Senate and refused to vote for President Bush in 2004, writing in the president's father instead, yet the RNC still paid for ads in his primary race. Rhode Island voters were not likely to nominate or elect a conservative, but the RNC's actions were heard across the fruited conservative plain. Tap the brakes, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman. You're not king makers.
Compassionate conservatism completely betrayed conservative voters and their decades of grassroots activism. Fortunately, all is not lost for the true conservative movement. Every House and Senate seat lost this year is an opportunity for conservatives to re-educate the public on true conservative policy solutions. The coming Republican presidential primary offers a similar chance for renewal and the possible emergence of a genuine successor to Ronald Reagan.
No voter turnout machine put in motion over a three-day pre-election period could have overcome this slap in the face to the Republican Party's base. Undoing compassionate conservatism's wreckage will take years, not 72 hours.
Conservatism IS Compassion!
But it won for the Democrats.
Looking back, it's hard to believe that in 1994, the newly elected GOP Congress, actually, for a brief time, contemplated DISMANTLING the Dept of Education....just eliminating it...6 years later...
find a snitch to explain how the dims programmed the votes to have them victors would be a better idea.
We can hope, but we need a leader.
Will the Dems tie it to elimination of some Bush tax cuts, causing GWB to repeat GHWB's blunder??
Can we bring back Dispassionate Conservatism now?
Seems to me what really allowed the Democrats to win (at least in the Senate) was that the candidates they put up against the Republican incumbent claimed to be "conservative"...i.e. pro-life, pro-gun, like Casey in PA.
Whether or not those elected Senators stick to their
stated ideals once in Congress (which is something I doubt), will be another story.
Those kind of Republicans (i.e. the Republicans that could win in Democratic strongholds because they're so liberal) have always proved a bane to the Republican majorities.
Will the same thing happen with the newly elected "conservative" Dems...will they be a "thorn" in the side of Pelosi? Time will tell.
This country could use a little less compassion and a whole lot more conservatism from this administration.
And .. not soon enough to suit me.
Compassion has it's place - but it's NOT IN POLITICS. If you're not in it to WIN - then get the hell out. This constant cow-towing to the other side is what caused the base to stay home.
To hell with compassion. This is war.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." -Manuel II Paleologus
We need a real spiritual revival. Otherwise, no point to life. I mean if you live for a few years, than your dead forever, what was your purpose in living, just struggling with all the evil in this world. America needs Christ back in everything, so we can all rejoice together in our eternal future. We must keep praying until God answers our prayers, and literally changes the atmosphere from depression and despair to love, joy, and REAL peace.
Dang....the piling on is pitiful.
All of the things in this article was KNOWN in 2003...Bush was reelected in 2004.
NO! AMERICA LOST!
"Compassionate conservatism is the theory that the government should encourage the effective provision of social services without providing the service itself."
And THAT is exactly what America was.....until LBJ and the other "Great Society" socialists took over the role of charity from churches and other charitable agencies to make providing these goods, funds, and services a responsibility of the gummint and the taxpayer.
110% correct. Think i will copy and paste this and send to a few Republican groups.
"Conservatism IS Compassion!"
If you want to be that way, fund it with your money, not mine!
Compasonate Conservative is just a fancy way of saying i'm a socialist!
And his majority was?
Even in 2003, staunch conservatives were complaining to the Republican PTB, and warning what would happen. Apparently in their "compassionate arrogance," they didn't listen. Unlike Dummies, the Republican base won't just vote for anyone with an R after his name. They expect their representative to vote like Republicans, not Demo-lites.
Did you forget that he ran against John Kerry? Hell, even Clinton won when he was offered up Bob Dole.
A conservative meets a homeless alcholic on the street who asks him for a dollar; he yells a few obsentities at the man for being a bum and a drunk then passes him by, ignoring the principles of the Christianity he wears on his sleeve.
A liberal meets the same man, grabs him against his will, stuffs him in his vehicle and takes him to a AA shelter which is supported by tax dollars (none of which the drunk wants) then forgets about him and tells himself he's done a good deed. Suffering from the DTs, the drunk later dies.
A libertarian meets the man and gives him a dollar to help buy a bottle of Thunderbird.
And that's why people like me did not vote for Bush in '04. I figured he'd be a sell-out. I voted straight R this time because I can't stand Granholm and Stabenow and wanted the MI legislature to remain Republican. They actually passed a CCW law, castle doctrine and partial-birth abortion ban (the Canadian Bitch vetoed he last one there).
We need more than that we need concrete positions on the messy issues...not just platitudes. Sure we agree that lower taxes are important and reduced Gov't spending...What about Iraq & the War on Terror? Social Security? Health care costs? This mythic LEADER must vocalize positions on these issues that make people want to vote for conservatives - not simply against the socialistic practices of the Democrats.
The Republicans in the House and Senate didn't HAVE to be a 'compassionate' Conservative.
They could have sent bills with less spending...they could have voted down some of the bills...
But, they didn't, did they??
Maybe THEY have something to do with their own downfall...right?
We have no one to blame but ourselves. We had a great opportunity to formulate a reasonable immigration reform package, but the House stood firm in the face of dozens of polls showing Americans wanted comprehensive immigration reform...and wanted some type of path to citizenship for those already here. We blew it!
Instead we concentrated on pathetic attempts to amend the Constitution for social issues, arguing against evolution across the country, and refusing any compromise on stem cell research. Add to that the ridiculous display by Congress to step into state business during the Terri Schiavo fiasco, while forgetting entirely what a Republican congress should be doing to hold back the growth of government while ignoring comprehensive energy legislation, and it's no wonder some ask where the leadership was.
On a side note, I'm still waiting to hear from Michael Moore. (Not that I look forward to it.)
Okay...then you can complain...you didn't vote for him
Those that did, KNEW that he was for a comprehensive immigration policy...and yet haven't quit griping that he wants one, for over 2 years!!! DUH!!
Ding, ding, ding...we have a winner. In many cases I remember Bush having trouble because Conressional Republicans were too much with the Democrats (Gang of 14 anyone?)
Well in the words of Ronald Reagan..."there you go again". Lots of NEVERs in those statements. I think Ronald would have had a more positive and hopeful message.
I didn't write this, but I sure subscribe to it......I first learned from Mark Scott the term "cosmetic conservative" 15 yrs ago when he was on WXYT radio, and went searching for uses of the phrase when I read this thread.
"Our Republical leadership are becoming too closely tied with Corporate America and the rich and powerful. If historic additions to the national debt by the party in power are an indication of a partys conservatism, then both parties are liberal and the Republicans are by far the most liberal.
Many voters today are cosmetic conservatives (CosCons) because they have forgotten or are unaware of key points of history. They are asking the wrong questions and coming up with the wrong answers. Politics is the main stream of history. It follows that political judgments demand historical knowledge. The conservative leaders of this nation have fabricated their political position from two big lies.
In Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler said that plausible untruths were one of the best tools for obtaining political power. Enough repetition of a slogan would instill it as truth in common man to the point that, when confronted with incontrovertible disproof, the disproof would be doubted. Thus we have inalienable political fabrications.
The first of the two lies is that our conservative leadership wants a smaller, more efficient government. A politicians fiscal conservatism is unsustainable over time and becomes liberal because of career motivated public spending. Campaign contribution quid pro quo inevitably produces legislation specifically benefiting the rich and powerful to the detriment of the public interest.
The second lie is that the great burden of taxation on our middle class is the responsibility of the liberal governments of the past. The recent increases in this burden can be laid directly to the enactment of Reagans supply-side tax reforms. Those reforms shifted the tax burden down the social scale while adding income share to the top 20% of American households concurrently lowering the share of the lower 80%. This is a dangerous concentration of wealth. Many conservatives will continue to doubt that these are lies, in spite of the arguments above. They are inalienable political fabrications"
The White House support of Arlen Specter and Chaffee and refusing to support Kathraine Harris was WORSE than NCLB OR the Drug plan!! Just showed raw politics with NO integrity!! Good riddance to Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman and George Bush.
all we can offer is freedom. getting in a spending contest with democrats is like getting in a drinking contest with Ted Kennedy-you'll lose every time.
I remember Bush Sr being asked why it was he thought he lost his bid for a second term., his answer struck me as a little wierd.
Well I 'spose I could have used another quart or two of Ronald Reagan ....Paraphrased.
Where that's true of his Dad, it goes double for dubya.
While going in too soft in the "War on Terror", his credibility is completetly shot by the flood of crimaliens flooding our border.
Hows that Latino vote workin' for the Stupid Party ?
The Government was moving faster than was portrayed. They had a lot of past to shed off their backs and learn how a democracy works. Look how long it took for us to establish a sound democratic form of government and compare it to the Iraqi.
One thing about the left RATS, they spent all those Bush years learning how to enhance their spin mythology. We are in trouble in 2008 and beyond because of the third party sucking votes that could be ours and RATS taking credit where they have not earned anything. If that is not corruption at its finest then I don't know the ultimate corruption.
I was in Pittsburgh a week before the election. I don't recall seeing or hearing about Arlen Spector out campaigning for Santorum. I'm enjoying the delicious irony that Spector lost his chairmanship of the Judiciary committee due to Santorum's loss.
"We have no one to blame but ourselves. We had a great opportunity to formulate a reasonable immigration reform package, but the House stood firm in the face of dozens of polls showing Americans wanted comprehensive immigration reform...and wanted some type of path to citizenship for those already here. We blew it!"
That is absolutely false. The idea has always been, build a wall FIRST and prove sincerity about controlling borders, THEN work on dealing with those here. Don't try and pin the Troglodyte label on anti-ILLEGAL immigrant conservatives, it just doesn't fly.
Not true, the libertarian offers him a job. If he takes it, voluntarily works 80 hours/week when he gets paid for 40, asks for help getting into school, the libertarian helps; if he doesn't take the job, or doesn't care about himself, the libertarian lets him starve.
Ditto Mrs. Irey in PA.
And be able to explain to the voters why this position is the right course, economically and socially.
And as for Compassionate Conservatism, you are exactly right. That plus the Iraqi misinformation by the MSM and RATS did us in. Going to be a hard road to overcome in 2008, but if we get off our collective a@@es, just could be done. Remember, we have laid the ground work and the RATS will take credit by not doing much to upset it for the next 2 years.
Sorry for the Iraqi post on this topic. Forgot where I was.
So what are we doing to retain those votes or win them back? The core agenda of the Libertarians (constrained government both fiscally and socially), and the Constitution Party (constitutionally constrained government), both lobby for the same thing: smaller govenment, less spending, lower taxes, less federal intervention in issues of the states and local government(education).
The message is clear: If you want those votes, then act like the conservative Republicans that you claim to be!
Yup, don't disagree, the point is that he had the choice...