Sunday, January 18, 2009

If You're Going to Read One Article Written by a Conservative Writer Today, Read Matthew Continetti


Somehow Republicans and conservatives have gotten the idea that, if only Bush hadn't approved all those big spending bills, things would have worked out splendidly. The argument goes something like this: Bush betrayed conservatives with No Child Left Behind, reauthorizing farm subsidies, expanding Medicare, and turning a blind eye to pork-barrel spending. Big spending policies hurt GOP credibility with the public. Since voters couldn't spot the difference between Republicans and Democrats, they opted for the real party of government. Hence the constant refrain you hear in conservative circles about the GOP needing to "return to its roots" and oppose the welfare state on principle. That will boost conservative turnout, reestablish confidence in the Republican party, and get us back to the glory days.

Sorry, folks. The lesson of the last eight years is not that Americans want a smaller government. It's that Americans recoil at what appears to be an incompetently run government out of touch with the major challenges of the day. Your average voter doesn't mind government action if he deems it necessary to pursue a public good like national defense or supporting retirees. He votes for the party that has the most compelling program for the future, not the one simply trying to stand athwart it.

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