Is conservatism dead?
When I was involved in campus politics, some of my fellow insurgents looked on with dismay as members of the establishment broke ranks and took up our cause. They were worried that such conversions would ultimately weaken us, as it would blur distinctions and refocus the campus along personality and not standard ideology.
The reason I bring this up is because, looking at the President’s response to Katrina, a new question has arisen – is the nation’s most conservative President in modern times changing his tune? Is conservatism now dead, lying face first in the hurricane-soaked swamps of the Bayou state?
I mean, this guy is a “big government” politician. Even before 9/11 and Katrina, Bush was pushing spending rates higher at a faster clip than Clinton ever did – and he’s doing this at the same time he’s promising and delivering a lot more in tax breaks. Now he’s proposing a federalized reconstruction effort in New Orleans of around $200 billion.
Deficit hawks would have demanded spending cuts, or even tax increases. And a few members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are doing that. But most of the Republicans are loyal to their President and most of the Democrats are “shocked and awed” that he’s become as deep of a spender of public money as they themselves has only dreamed.
Conservative Republicans used to support judicial and fiscal restraint – indeed, the basic meaning of “conservatism” is keep things modest and not let radical notions take over. Conservatism as an American ideology has to be dying, and at the hands of its most committed adherent no less.