The National Whig

Serving to make the United States better by arguing for Liberty and its best ingredient Limited Government.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Conservatism, What Does it Mean?

This presidential election cycle has brought out many interesting scenes already, and the play isn't even really out of the beginning stages. On the Democrat side of things we have the contest of who can empty out the nation's treasury the quickest with entitlements and spending that will reach well into the trillions of dollars. There is also the underlying tension of who is actually running the Democrat Party, is it the Washington based machine or is it the netroots led by Markos Maulitos of the Daily Kos? That scene is humorous only because the feuding sides will have the same detrimental effect on the nation regardless of who comes out victorious. The Republicans on the other hand are actually providing some real intellectual food for thought.

It seems that every twenty years or so, since the fifties, the Republican Party has had a huge battle within to find out if they are going to be the home of the Conservaitve movement or led by northeastern countryclub types with no real ambition to be a majority party. In the fifties, led by William F. Buckley Jr. and the editorial board of National Review, the decision was support Ike and win or support Taft and Conservative principles. After holding their nose before jumping in with Nixon and getting burned in the sixties, Conservaitves found their man in Ronald Reagan, but they had to do battle twice against the Republican establishment, once in '76 and then again in '80 when finally Conservatives got some one who championed their philosophy in office. After that, we thought that the debate of who ran the Republican Party was over. Well, here we are in the 2008 Presidential Race and we are having the same debate yet again.

Though the debate is much the same as it was in decades past, the reasons are completely in the now. The Republicans are moving in such a manner as to exclaim to the entire voting populous that we would rather beat Hillary Clinton than run on our principles. As we speak, the frontrunner in all the polls show that Rudy Guiliani is going to be our choice to face off against Hillary. However, on almost all of the domestic issues Rudy is a carbon copy of Hillary. Is it really important to win if all that happens is a little less Liberalism than would otherwise happen? We tried that with the current administration and it has put us in the situtation that we are in right now. (I will expand on that argument shortly.) Conservatives must buy into the movement if they are ever going to have the American people buy into it themselves. By choosing Rudy because he polls well against Hillary what we are really telling the American voter is that we care more about winning, and that is not a good, winning strategy.

I have heard it said and read in many places that Conservatives should not redefine Conservatism to fit any one particular candidate in the Republican field. The top tier of the candidates has its share of good ideas but no one could say that any one of them is a movement Conservative, and that is important. Rudy may be friendly to Conservatives in the case of the economy, but his social attitudes are counter that of the movement's social attitude. Romney is too much the packaged guy and can't really be trusted to lead the movement. McCain has been looked at numerous times on this space and no one can make a legitimate case that he is ready to lead the movement after his actions in the past seven years. McCain disdains the Conservative movement and would lead us to our doom. Thompson would be a good fit on almost all issues, but can you say that he is a leader. Does he want to be the leader?

We find ourselves in this situation because we did not elect a movement Conservative in 2000. Sure, Bush is more Conservative on issues than not, but he is not a movement guy. If there is any similarity between him and his father, it is that. Bush has given us tax cuts and a two good Supreme Court jurists, but he has not done much else that would classify him as a Conservative. His domestic spending led to the defeat of Republicans in 2006. He created a new entitlement within Medicare and a new Department in the Federal government that many say didn't need to be created. Spending for nondefense items under President Bush from 2001-2006 increased by 27.9 percent. Of course, Congress really didnt' do anything to stop this, but how do you tell your President in your Party that you are not going to give him pretty much what he wants? That mentality led to an increase in earmarks and hubris among the House and Senate leaders and created an atmosphere fertile for corruption. By November of 2006, Conservatives decided it was time to stay home and punish the Party for their abandonment of their principles.

Now, we are faced with a Presidential race where we can claim no real candidate that seems ready to take up our cause. Conservatives are going to have to make a choice between winning or principles. Personally, I think our principles will win so I don't understand why there has to be this choice. The country is not ready to turn itself into France or Canada, so all Republicans need to do is find some one who can articulate their message with honesty and sencerity and the American Voter will choose that person. Fred Thompson is articulate, and right now, he seems to be the best fit for our movement. Unless some one else comes along, he may be our best choice.