Are conservatives in America serious about facing what we have become and about rethinking what we need to be if we are to help foster what is best in this free republic?
George Will throws a bucket of cold water on anyone who is still baffled and whining within the movement ("The Hyperbole of a Conservative").
Conservatism's current intellectual chaos reverberated in the Republican ticket's end-of-campaign crescendo of surreal warnings that big government -- verily, "socialism" -- would impend were Democrats elected. John McCain and Sarah Palin experienced this epiphany when Barack Obama told a Toledo plumber that he would "spread the wealth around."
America can't have that, exclaimed the Republican ticket while Republicans -- whose prescription drug entitlement is the largest expansion of the welfare state since President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society gave birth to Medicare in 1965; a majority of whom in Congress supported a lavish farm bill at a time of record profits for the less than 2 percent of the American people-cum-corporations who farm -- and their administration were partially nationalizing the banking system, putting Detroit on the dole and looking around to see if some bit of what is smilingly called "the private sector" has been inadvertently left off the ever-expanding list of entities eligible for a bailout from the $1 trillion or so that is to be "spread around."
The seepage of government into everywhere is, we are assured, to be temporary and nonpolitical. Well. ...
He goes on to cite "temporary" programs that started with the Depression and WWII, but which, alas, are still with us. It is the nature of most public officials that once they get their claws into a source of revenue or a sphere of control, they never let go. Why should the banks, the automakers, and the occasional trillion dollars of public "emergency" spending be exceptions to this natural law?
Will drives home his point here:
Hyperbole is not harmless; careless language bewitches the speaker's intelligence. ... In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking -- bending government for the benefit of private factions. The difference is in degree, including the degree of candor. The rehabilitation of conservatism cannot begin until conservatives are candid about their complicity in what government has become.
Conservatives need to face what they have become under George W. Bush, and then confess "Hi, my name's _______, and I'm a socialist," repent, re-study the Founding, the Constitution, the basic principles of political and economic liberty, and I would add the disgrace and dignity of man in the gospel of Christ, and then study how prudence would apply these lessons to the present shambles of which we are co-architects.
For background on W-conservatism, read Fred Barnes, "Big-Government Conservatism," The Weekly Standard, Aug. 18, 2003.