The Iowa Caucus puts the eyes of the nation even more squarely on the GOP nominating contest. It was this time twelve years ago that then-Governor George W. Bush was pushing for his rebranded conservative message, couched as “compassionate conservatism.” The implication that conservatism is inherently uncompassionate aside, “compassionate conservatism” is just a euphemistic way to say “pro-life fiscal liberal.” George W. Bush was a strong social conservative, and God bless him for it; however, he was not a fiscal conservative, and his Administration paved the way for a Democratic Congress and one of the most liberal presidents in modern history.
Some of George W. Bush’s staunchest defenders tried to deflect conservative criticism of the President’s big-spending policies, claiming that he was using “liberal means to achieve conservative ends.” Is this even possible? If you’re using liberal means, doesn’t that inherently have liberal outcomes (i.e.- a ballooning Federal deficit?). That’s why, in this Republican Presidential primary, we need a consistent conservative. In other words, it’s time for a president who’ll use “conservative means to achieve conservative ends.” This means that the next GOP president needs to push for true cuts to Federal budget and out-of-control Federal spending, thus paving the way for private sector activism.
President Bush’s “compassionate conservative” agenda was flawed in that it kept people dependent on government. Yes, I’d rather the government gives aide to pro-life and pro-family causes instead of pro-abortion and liberal family agendas; however, I’d prefer to see a conservative president move government toward a position of supporting socially conservative legislation, while leaving the task of social change to the private sector. In this way, both sides of the conservative equation, social and fiscal conservatism, are implemented. Growing the size and scope of government, even with noble intentions builds the apparatus liberal presidents (i.e. – Barack Obama) need to quickly promote their radical agenda of secular progressivism.
When questioned by conservatives during his tenure in the White House, President Bush consistently asked us to trust him. It wasn’t that conservatives didn’t trust President Bush’s commitment to the protection of life and liberty; we didn’t trust the next guy. That’s why President Bush’s policies of growth in government were so dangerous: he wouldn’t abuse the apparatus he imposed to radically redefine American culture, but he put together the framework a liberal president would use to do just that. And, alas, that’s exactly what President Obama has done.
Compassionate conservatism didn’t work, for it is really just repacked progressivism. Conservatism, when applied to both social and fiscal issues, is the best way to ensure prosperity and progress for the American People.