Nov 17 2006
It seems I and many other conservatives need to just step back and re-assess the political landscape. As I mentioned in the post below on immigration, I do not see the Republican Party offering a very palatable form of conservatism any more. So let me describe what I think is an attractive conservative vision. It begins with supporting and respecting our President and all his accomplishments. And since I and many others still have unflinching support and admiration for the man, I decided to steal some from the commenters here and dub this conservative view “Bush Conservatives”.
Bush Conservatives not only believe in Reagan’s 11th commandment to not speak ill of fellow conservatives – we live it. From the Gang of 14, to Harriet Miers, to Dubai Ports World and to the immigration issue – there has been a brand of Republican which eschewed the 11th commandment. So let the Republicans be defined by that group – Bush Conservatives will be defined by their antithesis. Bush conservatives are not afraid of the word ‘compromise’. They despise the word ‘failure’. If there is a good idea, we do not care what party gets credit – we care that the good ideas get enacted. It is not Party uber America anymore.
Bush Conservatives, like Bush himself, are for lower taxes and focused government (someplace between liberals and libertarians is the proper role of government). They are not for destroying the public education system, they are for making it work. And they understand private school access is one option. They understand that a prescription drug benefit for Medicare/Medicaid will reduce overall costs and provide a respectable end of life for our seniors who came before us. Yes, it costs a lot to care for our elderly. But it doesn’t represent big government. It represents a big heart. I am not for throwing money away. The prescription drug benefit was a nice optimizing solution to a broken system. It was consumer driven (which is why the liberals should not be allowed to go in and insert bureacratic price controls) and it will save money that was being wasted in emergency room treatments for normal problems.
Bush Conservatives respect the immigrant worker in the sense we understand people need to make a life (not just a living). We do not want the broken current system to stay hostage to the “Fence Only” crowd. The illegal immigrant worker will pay a penalty in back taxes and lost time towards citizenship. That level of penalty is sufficient for the crime of missing paperwork. We respect those who are trying to do nothing more than raise a family. The Republicans can now have the mantle of harshness towards otherwise good people. They can focus on their vision of the few bad apples representing the entire immigrant population. They can ignore the more realistic, broader images that include aliens fighting for our country – the other immigrant worker. The only people who get my support will embrace Bush’s comprehensive vision of workers who are registered, background checked, working in the open economy, and who must avoid criminal activities if they stay here. They will not become citizens immediately, and in fact will not be able to apply any time here as illegal aliens towards citizenship. They will become our neighbors working by our side, raising their children with ours. And like the good neighbors we are, we will reach out and help them assimiliate to our society. The Reps can be the party of rounding up aliens for deportation. They are apparently clinging to that image with a death grip anyway.
Bush Conservatives do not see failure in Iraq, they see the long hard, generational fight we were warned was coming. Bush conservatives will not ally with liberals to find an exit and let the terrorists follow our troops home. Bush Conservatives do not blame Bush for Al Qaeda’s tenacity. We salute Bush for his tenacity.
Bush conservatives see success in the Gang of 14, who paved the way for some of the largest shifts to the federal bench in a generation. And we would welcome a repeat of the Gang of 14 in the upcoming senate to quelsh the partisan bickering between Reps and Dems. Go for it Gang – with my blessing. If they can keep the results going like they did in the last Congress, true conservatism will be able to flow into our court systems – as opposed to imposing Republican versions of the Liberal activism in the courts now.
Bush Conservatives are not necessarily Republicans – though obviously they are welcomed. Bush Conservatism is the broad-tent conservative movement that can include a McCain, DeWine, Snowe, etc. The only litmus test for Bush Conservatives is there is no litmus tests. There are no ‘real’ conservatives or ‘pure’ conservatives. Republicans can have their purity tests. Bush Conservatives will strive for enhancing the conservative vision and making progress towards those ends.
So how can Republicans (or Democrats) attract Bush Conservatives? Show respect to the President. Don’t blame Bush for your problems or mistakes. Allow processes to unfold without vitriol and panic. Admit the errors made on Miers (she should have been heard, then rejected), Dubai Ports World (not all Muslim Arabs are our enemies, especially ones willing to fund our outer defenses), and immigration (support the guest worker program for all the immigrants now here in this country). Failure to admit the mistakes means failure to correct the mistakes. These minimum changes could woo the Bush Conservatives back into the Republican tent – but there as to be unmistakable shift on these matters. No sliding around these examples of what we do not want to see more of. In many of these cases Dems and Reps both have some atoning to do.
Stop blaming the Gang of 14 and support the results they gave us on all those new judges and justices we are blessed to have. Look positively on efforts that are bi-partisan and are rolling back liberalism’s last vestiges: the liberal courts.
Don’t surrender on Iraq. Don’t pull a Kerry. We went into Iraq and made commitments. Honor those commitments and strive for nothing short of success. We do not follow people who go back on their word. Reps and Dems can tolerate that – Bush Conservatives never will.
Be positive, show respect, and use decorum. And this is not a Chinese menu. We are not looking for ideaological purity. But we are looking for a common vision, a common goal, something we can work together towards. We can debate the details of how to achieve these, but there is no doubt we need to do these things.
Here is the alternative: Reps and Dems can be against fixing immigration. Reps and Dems can be for bashing Bush. Reps and Dems can run from Iraq even though they supported the effort going in. The parties can continue to go their partisan ways. If they do, then I hope a moderate new party can arise from the ashes these scorched earth partisan efforts have been producing. We are at war, and these partisan are fighting us, not our enemies. America’s patience with these two squabbling camps will run out.
Addendum: I forgot one important subject – Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR). Bush opposes the killing of human beings, as do Bush Conservatives. This is why Bush Conservatives are not soft on life issues. Arlen Specter would not be a Bush Conservative. ESCR is snake oil compared to the Adult Stem Cell Research (ASCR) results which keep poring in. Even one of Michael J Fox’s top scientists who studies the full range of stem cell options has leaned towards faster, better cures coming from ASCR than ESCR. Bush is very pro-life. From his Stem Cell stance to parental notification to partial birth abortion, he has successfully moved the country towards the pro life side in a massive way. That is why Reps who bash Bush are just not being true to conservatism, they are only being true to their pet issues at the expense of conservatism. How many ways did Reps hurt the conservative cause? They stayted home. They turned on Bush when they did not get one thing their way. They never refused to acknowledge all Bush did, only what Bush did not do for them, they refused compromise, they refused progress, they refused to participate, they refused to be civil. Now all Bush did accompolish is at risk while the losers keep blaming him because they turned on him. The Reps have a lot to learn. Too much, in my opinion, to be ready for 2008.
Addendum II: I must also point out why Bush bashing without any thought is really, really bad. I am now of the opinion that the Democrat wave was much, much higher than what we ended up with. There could have easily been more House seats lost and one more Senate seat gone. I can easily see Bush’s last minute push taking some of the force out of the political tsunami that hit, along with Kerry’s last minute gaffe. We did see a turn to the reps in the last weekend’s polls. If I am right, and people were returning to Bush in some small way, the Bush bashing/blame we see now is really destructive. It is pushing those who DID turn back to the reps off and making them doubt, if not regret, there last minute change of heart to the right. Reps will react like this, without thinking. Bush Conservatives are much less volatile.
Addendum III: I would like to also add zero tolerance for pork barrel spending and ear-marks. The runaway spending was not pushed by Bush, it was done by Congress. They demanded a price to support Bush’s goals and inflated the budget with useless bridges, etc. There was no way Bush would have vetoed SLIMMED DOWN budgets. That one is all at the feet of the Reps in Congress. Ed Morrissey does this subject great justice today.
Addendum IV: Reader Luker noted these fine additions to the list:
– habeas corpus reserved to US citizens and not granted to the foreigners, especially the terrorists and the GITMO detainees.
– Balance between civil liberties and security of our own country and its assets, namely the preservation of the NSA foreign terrorist surveillance program.
– Tax reform, especially the abolishment of the death tax.
– Social Security reform.
Note that the last two REQUIRE compromise so we can attract democrat support. The first two will be salvaged by folks like Lieberman (and hopefully Harman) putting national security above partisanship. We will now be indebted any democrat who helps save these items.