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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4231/bush-is-really-really-conservative/

Bush is really, really conservative

October 19, 2005 by

John Podhoretz says it’s wrong for conservatives to argue that George Bush isn’t one of their own:

That is simply preposterous, and it’s become a lazy charge on the part of right-wingers who have problems with individual parts of his agenda.

Yes, he signed No Child Left Behind. Yes, he signed campaign-finance reform. Yes, he supports an immigration-reform proposal that some say features amnesty. But let’s not miss the major fact. Anyone who cuts taxes by nearly $2 trillion is a CONSERVATIVE. Anyone who is willing to pursue an aggressive foreign policy without the support of the liberal elite is a CONSERVATIVE. And anyone who has appointed as many conservative jurists as Bush is a CONSERVATIVE.

So just to review, the “big tent” of conservatism includes federalizing education despite a total lack of constitutional authority, violating the First Amendment’s core protection of political speech, refusing to veto any spending bill, no matter how large and wasteful, and consequently running up massive deficits–just for starters.

Of course, what I suspsect Podhoretz means is that being a conservative means acquiring political power—first, last, and always—and what one actually does with that power is secondary.

{ 16 comments }

Dennis Sperduto October 19, 2005 at 9:56 am

Mr. Oliva points out the fundamental problem with conservatism. Like modern liberalism, its goal is political power, with little regard for the basic and “inalienable” economic and civil liberties that are the birthright of each human being. This has been the stance of conservatism in the U.S. at least since the demise of the “Old Right” in the 1950s, and it has become blatantly obvious with the Bush administration. Yes, some of the specific policies of the Left and Right are different, but both are united in the goal of acquiring and using political power, and in compromising, if not negating, our economic and civil liberties. Modern Liberalism and Conservatism are just different sides of the same debased coin.

While Ronald Reagan may have changed the terms of the debate slightly through rhetoric, the large majority of his administration’s actions clearly supported the maintenance and expansion of the warfare/welfare state. For instance, Reagan campaigned to abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, but once elected did little to actually implement these campaign promises. Instead, he and his Republican successors have used these federal departments to implement a conservative agenda, which like the liberal agenda, is decidedly statist and anti free market at the core.

Compare Conservatives and Liberals to Murray Rothbard, whose life goal was the advancement of liberty, and to Ludwig von Mises, who more than anyone else in the 20th century, demonstrated through economic science that human society and civilization, and the very lives of most people, are the result of the market economy.

Stefan Karlsson October 19, 2005 at 11:46 am

Translation: Bush invaded Iraq and that’s the only thing we should care about (Podhoretz needless to say thinks it’s a very good thing) so don’t you dare criticize him.

This attitude is something which Bruce Bartlett who have a book coming out attacking Bush have experienced as he was fired as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis over this, something which I have analyzed here.

MLS October 19, 2005 at 12:46 pm

What the hell is this guy smoking? Cutting taxes by 2 trillion (at this time) would leave the kind of government that minarchists would enjoy. Bush did no such thing, but in fact has raised government revenue and spending by a substantial amount.

Facts are stubborn things (especially to this guy).

Yancey Ward October 19, 2005 at 1:19 pm

Republicans stand for election on priciples they don’t actually fight for, for the most part. The parties are essentially identical, for the most part, with the only difference being the groups of voters and special interests they try to buy off. The end result is the same- collapse.

oneofthem October 19, 2005 at 1:27 pm

I don’t consider the hunger for power a part of any “ism” except maybe pragmatism. The increasing prevalence of interest in politics has rendered the party leaderships more powerful, for interest plays by the rule of power politics, and ideas less so, especially those ideas that oppose interest. Now, it is easy, and certainly valid to say republicans don’t believe in republicanism, but i think the more fundamental reason is that there is no longer a coherent republicanism that involves fiscal responsibility. The republican party has become a more diverse organization, with many groups of different priorities. Initially conservatives may have harnessed these forces to strengthen the political strength of the conservative ideal, the effort to educate via the partyline has not been as successful. This, coupled with some freak accidents like 9-11 has shifted the priority of the party greatly toward less relevant issues. Now, socialism has become to a certain degree ingrained, and it becomes politically inexpedient to oppose it, even for republicans. Thus, if the leadership is not itslf committed to conservatism, then it has little external reason to.

The solution is to strenghten the ideal itself, not that we should stop exploiting other forces, but we should only exploit them with sufficient strength ourselves to control them. As of right now, the only thing preventing me from urging everyone to vote libertarian is the democrat’s platform, which really really scares me.

Andrew October 19, 2005 at 2:39 pm

What tax cuts?! Inflation due to money supply growth by 10% a year leaves far behind any tax cuts.

Robert Cote October 19, 2005 at 2:43 pm

Cut taxes? Cut taxes? I thought this was an economics blog. Taxes are not what the government -collects- but rather what the government -spends- and -obligates-. Bush is a drunken sailor in this regard. Conservatives cut -spending-. Bush is no conservative. That said don’t be fooled by his low approval ratings. I don’t approve of his job performance but that in no way means I’m going to prefer someone even less conservative as the Dems appear to be assuming. I’d guess that at least a third of us who dissaprove of his actions are doing so from his right.

Yancey Ward October 19, 2005 at 4:05 pm

Robert Cote,

Beautifully put, in regards to what taxes are.

I certainly disapprove from Bush’s right.

Vince Daliessio October 19, 2005 at 5:44 pm

oneofthem sez;

“I don’t consider the hunger for power a part of any “ism” except maybe pragmatism.”

I can think of a few “isms” dominated by this sort of hunger – fascism, communism, socialism, monetarism…

Vince Daliessio October 19, 2005 at 5:54 pm

And, to be less glib, and also to meet what Robert Cote says, while Bush has increased total current spending twofold, has also increased future obligations by trillions of dollars, while reducing overt revenue from one particular stream of tax moneys. The balance must be made up with either overt tax revenue increases from other streams such as the AMT(already happened automatically), and / or massive inflation of the fiat currency(ditto). So, where, exactly, do the tax cuts help us?

oneofthem October 19, 2005 at 6:49 pm

I can think of a few “isms” dominated by this sort of hunger – fascism, communism, socialism, monetarism…

well you see, since all ideologies seek power to implement itself, i would say this makes power too general to “dominate” any ism. An example would be the general characteristic of people to breath, fascists breath, communists breath, i breath you breath…

martha October 19, 2005 at 9:53 pm

To argue that Bush is a conservative is to think that unicorns are real

Yancey Ward October 20, 2005 at 9:43 am

Vincent Daliessio,

I would only write that the tax cuts allow me more resources to better plan for the disaster that is coming with or without them.

Vince Daliessio October 20, 2005 at 11:15 am

Right, Yancey!

I guess I should have been more clear that in my post, “us” refers to Americans in aggregate, a bad habit, surely. Any tax cut you can get legally as an individual allows you to provide for you and your family better when the end finall comes. But I am perplexed as to how Republicans think the voters can enjoy a tax cut if it results in little improvement in the individual situations of the bulk of them.

Concerned Jackson November 1, 2005 at 3:55 pm

I didn’t realize those were tax cuts… last I heard it was a loan against the future. Conservative is less spending. Once again it’s another company (USA) he has ruined. Spend more than you take in… makes a lot of sense to me.

jack June 19, 2006 at 1:43 pm

well he wanna inpose the flat tax or not? the poverty in usa is bigger now then ever before?
i need answers so dont forget to send me answers pls

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