A Conservative Renaissance

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.

Final Reflections on President Bush

I’m sure you know that, as a conservative Republican, I have been extremely disappointed with the Bush Presidency.  Not only has he failed to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, he instead vastly increased it.  Unfortunately many Republicans, although privately critical of Bush, still continued to enthusiastically support him publicly.  Both fiscal and social conservatives have been marginalized and their votes and support taken for granted.  After all, whom else would they turn to?  The Democrats, awash in liberalism?  I should think not.

The Obama presidency with all its rhetoric of hope and change will likely just continue or even accelerate the rampant growth of the government making the Bush administration “good” by comparison.  Fortunately, this time no conservatives will hide their principles for the sake of the party in power.  The greatest hope Obama gives me is a strong resurgence of conservative principles in the midterm 2010 elections like was done in 1994.

Along this line of thought, I want to draw your attention to today’s post of the conservative Charlestonian commentator, Jack Hunter, a.k.a. The Southern Avenger.

All of you who still fervently back George W. Bush please rest assured that I have no plans to further discuss my disappointment with this President.  Regardless of party, we must now stand united against the threat of liberalism and socialism that this new President and Congress present.

For liberty with responsibility!

The Disappointing W

(Not a reference to the movie of the same name)

From the time of my political awaking back in the mid 1990’s, politicians have come and gone, rising to great power and falling from glory.  However, one leader on which I pinned such wistful hopes has so resoundingly disappointed me.  That leader was none other than President George W. Bush.  Back in 2000 when he was running against the liberal leaning John McCain, I strongly supported his election.  After the 8 years of Clinton, we needed a strong conservative leader who supported the ideals of limited government and exhibited strong moral values.  Very early in his administration, pundits criticized President Bush for taking time off and not accomplishing anything, but I didn’t mind in the least.  After all, he was our president, not the “leader of the free world” like the president has come to be viewed.  True, we are the greatest nation on earth, but other nations have a right to govern themselves rather than be controlled from Washington.  I figured that other conservatives and southerners agreed with this viewpoint.  One of my favorite quotes came from George Bush.  He said that in 2001, “I just don’t think that it’s the role of the United States to walk into a country to say, ‘we do it this way, so should you’”.

I thought that, like Communism, after the Clinton failures, the ideas of nation building and military interventionism were thrown on the ash heap of history.  In addition, for the first time in my life, Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.  Can you imagine it?  We could finally roll back government spending and taxes.  How about eliminating a few unconstitutional government agencies?  Or even take steps to end the genocide of abortion?  Just about anything was possible.  Unfortunately, as they say, 9-11 changed everything.  Rather than fighting to restore our government, President Bush pushed for the so-called Patriot Act which further stripped away our privacy and liberty in order to gain a little temporary security.  American citizens, in their fear, willing gave up their rights in order to try to stay safe.  After all, if you weren’t guilty, you had nothing to fear, right?  Then came the terrible conflict in Iraq.  I say that it was terrible because it was the first time that we preemptively provoked a conflict (unless you want to argue about either the Vietnam and the Spanish American War, though in both those cases the government came up with a rational explanation that later turned out to be false).  Rather than focusing on punishing Osama Bin Laden for 9-11, we instead took over a sovereign nation, first in the name of weapons of mass destruction and later to spread democracy and freedom.  To die to maintain and enhance the freedom and liberty of one’s own people is a noble goal.  To fight on behalf of another nation or people’s freedom should be a choice made on a person-by-person basis rather than by our leaders.  European monarchs of old and today’s dictators treat their soldiers like pawns in a chess game, sacrificing them to gain territory or aid allies, but I would like to think that the lives of our soldiers hold far more value.

Back to domestic concerns, rather than fight against federal involvement in education, President Bush pushed for No Child Left Behind.  Also Bush failed in his duty to defend our borders by not punishing illegal immigration and refusing to pardon the border patrol agents who were imprisoned for doing their jobs.  What about his delay in firing Rumsfeld, which likely cost Republican seats in 2006?  Then we have the issue of the bailout.  Normally, a rational fiscal conservative would have realized that government intervention caused the problem, but instead George Bush supported massive corporate welfare at your and my expense.  On the other hand, what socially conservative programs did George Bush push?  Has abortion been curtailed?  Do we have greater school choice?  He squandered away so much political capital on his war on terror, that he either ignored his opportunities domestically, or even worse, steadily moved us in the wrong direction.

True, I did campaign and vote for George Bush in 2000, but I didn’t repeat my mistake in 2004.  I pinned so much hope on W. and he has disappointed on just about every front.  He is not a small government advocate on either fiscal or foreign policy issues and he tricked the moral wing of the party into supporting his flawed plans under the banner of God and Country.  Think John McCain is a fresh conservative change from the likes of George Bush?  Think again.  Until Republicans rediscover and embrace the constitutional conservative soul of the party they not only should lose, but they also must lose.  As even the questionably conservative Mitt Romney noted, “When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses”.  Demand better.  Otherwise get used to more crappy leaders like Bush and McCain.

Jib Jab’s “Time for Some Campaignin'”

Although you’ve likely seen it already, I want to direct your attention to the latest political short by the folks at Jib Jab called “Time for Some Campaignin’”.  If you haven’t watched it yet, or don’t remember it, I direct you to www.jibjab.com.  Once you’ve done so, I wanted to give my two cents on this amusing piece.  I can wait.

While you’re gone, I’ll be busy whistling an off key tune…

…So you’re back then?  You’ve seen it now?  Good.

The clip opens with George Bush and Dick Cheney departing the White House while lamenting their legacy of “war, recession, and bad mortgage loans”.  The question is, in twenty years or more how will historians, and, more importantly, the general public view the Presidency of George W. Bush?  Obviously right now the vast majority have a negative opinion.  Like it was said during the Clinton years, “it’s the economy stupid!”  Unfortunately in general, people will tolerate a lot of poor and unconstitutional governance assuming the economy is doing well.  Right now our economy has been rather weak and coupled with a heavily devalued dollar, there is uncertainty and underemployment.  In addition, so many people these days believe that the conflict in Iraq was a mistake.  If these factors hold steady, it will certainly spell trouble for Republicans at the ballot box in November.

Next, it moves on to John McCain, Hillary, and Barack Obama.  The Bush sound-alike calls McCain “liberally prone” which isn’t very far from the truth.  Be it the issue of illegal immigration, McCain-Feingold, or his big government environmentalism, conservatives do have a good number of complaints against McCain.  Hillary, on the other hand, is painted as a power hungry politician who will resort to just about any tactic to win.  Although she failed to win the nomination, one has to wonder how much of the dirt she found against Obama will resurface in the general election.  You should remember that Michael Dukakis’s Willie Horton was first brought to the national attention by one of his primary opponents, Al Gore.  I think it is very likely that should Obama not win, Hillary will make another stab at the presidency in 2012.  Notice the Communist-looking campaign sign she carries.

The clip then switches again to McCain portraying him as a very heavy-handed militarist.  It also suggests that he is too old to be president and that he would likely become incapacitated while in office.  This viewpoint is not uncommon, as I have heard listeners call in to radio talk shows claiming the caller will not vote for McCain due to his age.  I think that this is a very weak argument as issues should be far more important that age.  If age does indeed become a campaign issue though, McCain should redouble his efforts to find a suitable Vice President/replacement.

Then comes Barack Obama. I think it is quite funny that he is shown in a Disneyesque nature scene continually spouting the nondescript rhetoric of change. Although he says he wants change, what sort of change does he want? Certainly his kind of change would not make any kind of conservative happy. His caricature is little more than an empty suit.

The folks at Jib Jab next make a few digs at political campaigns saying that in order to get elected, politicians will “promise you anything you wanna hear”. Some citizens vote for pork and more social programs and say to hell with the costs, consequences, and the Constitution. It is also true that spending for federal elections in this country, especially for the presidency, have ballooned to astronomical levels. I think both conservatives and liberals alike can agree that so much of this gross amount of spending could be allocated to far better purposes.

Lastly, I wanted to mention Jib Jab’s plug to put you in many of their pieces. I think this is a neat idea that should cause significant additional interest. Honestly, who can say no to someone who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger commanding you to “click it NAOUGHW!” I know that I, for one, couldn’t resist.

Overall, I think that Jib Jab has captured a humorous and telling criticism of politics in this country. I’m pleased to say that both their production values and their substance have made great strides since their 2004 Bush/Kerry episode. I may not agree with everything they offer, but they do make it entertaining to watch. I hope you enjoyed it too.