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.
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...
No, but would you settle on Heartless Conservatismn?
No. 26: a keeper!
Please..Kerry was not the answer to these issues in 2004...
"This country could use a little less compassion and a whole lot more conservatism from this administration."
****POST OF THE DAY
Well, it may not be what you wanted, but almost every poll for months reflected that a majority of Americans wanted some type of comprehensive immigration reform that included a path to citizenship and/or a guest worker program similar to what the President wanted. The fact that both houses of Congress were comprised of a majority of Republicans, and both houses passed immigration bills, yet refused to come together to even attempt to settle differences tells much.
While a comprehensive bill under the Republicans may not have been perfect, what we are going to get now with a Democrat congress will be far worse.
Apparently, they were too busy trying to amend the Constitution to bother with immigration, budgets, and energy. Nor did I use the term troglodyte...you did.
Unfortunately they won't have the opportunity. This will be passed into law in the next six months unless I miss my guess....Thank you "W".
It's true. I'm a Libertarian at heart.
Well, it may not be what you wanted, but almost every poll for months reflected that a majority of Americans wanted some type of comprehensive immigration reform that included a path to citizenship and/or a guest worker program similar to what the President wanted
Too bad freedom isn't selling to the sheeple. They want to be taken care of. Many would vote for an out-of-the-tyrant-closet brutal dictator if he promised them free health care and continued Social(ist) Security payments.
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