In recent times, there has been little for limited government conservatives, such as myself, to be happy about. If you will recall, back in 2000 Governor George W. Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative”, whatever that truly means. I always have assumed that conservatism, at its heart, is sufficiently compassionate as it promotes the ideals of personal reasonability and liberty, over reliance to a burdensome government that can give you anything you want, albeit inefficiently, but also take away everything you have. Unfortunately, as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration broke just about all of its supposed ties to limited government conservatism. It became a sort of conservative dark ages. As expected, the military budget increased to combat terrorism, however, George W. Bush supported many policies which ran counter to conservative ideals: immigration amnesty, greater federal involvement in education with the No Child Left Behind Act, attempting to nominate a person to the Supreme Court with little knowledge of Constitutional Law, laying the foundation for a police state through the Patriot Act, and starting a pre-emptive war in Iraq to name the biggest issues. Unfortunately, as George Bush was a Republican, far too few conservatives were willing to speak against his policies. I am certain that if a Democrat advocated legislation such that Bush advocated conservatives would have raised a big fuss. I recall wistfully remarking to one of my professors the hope that the Republican Party would offer a conservative alternative to Bush in the 2004 Presidential election.
The 2008 Republican presidential election didn’t provide a whole lot of hope for conservatives either. Early front runners like Rudy Giuliani, who was far from a social conservative, Mitt Romney, who supported state sponsored healthcare and has held both points of view on many political issues, and Mike Huckabee, who although a social conservative seemed to forget about limited government and fiscal restraint, filled me with considerable concern. As you know from reading this blog, I decided to rally behind the only Republican candidate who consistently spoke in favor of shrinking the national government, Representative Ron Paul. Unfortunately, too many conservatives scoffed at the idea of Paul being their nominee. Some firmly believed in Bush’s conflict in Iraq while others lumped Paul as being the same as some his more radical, conspiracy-minded followers. Nevertheless, John McCain became the Republican nominee. As I have stated in the past, although Senator McCain advocated a few conservative policies, he is not a conservative. This truth should have become painfully clear as a result of the McCain/Feingold muzzle on free speech, his support for amnesty, and his insistence during the debates of compelling the government to buy up and renegotiate bad mortgages. Yuck! Although many conservatives grudgingly voted for McCain, others either stayed home on election day, voted for Obama, or voted for a third party candidate. Still, I was still surprised by how badly McCain lost. Conservatism was further removed from the national stage.
For the first time in a long while, I’m beginning to gain a glimmer of hope. Now I believe that we are only a few years from a conservative renaissance. “How can that be?” You might ask. Under Obama and the series of bailouts the state has grown ever larger. What politician is willing to take a stand for my liberty…for my tax dollars? Just look at recent events. More and more states have passed resolutions reclaiming their sovereignty as protected by the 10th Amendment. We don’t know what sort of legal impact these resolutions will make, if any, but it is clearly an important step if we wish to reign in the federal government. And consider the tea parties. In hundreds of locations across the nation, thousands upon thousands of disenchanted citizens gathered to protest excessive government taxes and spending. Think back to last year at this time. If the protest occurred then, wouldn’t they have been labeled as radical or ignored completely by media outlets like FOX News? Have either spending or taxes risen so dramatically between Bush and Obama? Hardly. And yet now that a Democrat lives in the White House, conservatives and Republicans of many stripes can band together in opposition to Obama’s policies.
The present time harkens back to 1994 when the Democrats controlled the Presidency, the House, and the Senate. However, unlike that time, we must nominate and elect principled limited government Constitutional conservatives who will remain true to their values, not be corrupted with the temptations of power and kickbacks. Then, and only then, we will enjoy the fruits of a lasting conservative renaissance. Our goals are clear. Let us not waiver.