The GOP was unarguably massacred in 2008 on several fronts; in the Presidential election, the House, and the Senate races. At first glance, there seems to have been a shift in the paradigm of thought within the American voter’s mind. But the question remains, was it against conservative principles and a movement towards a more modern progressive-left philosophy? Or was it a repudiation for the betrayal voters felt that the Bush administration, enabled by a Republican held Congress, had perpetrated on them?
President Bush has been accused on numerous occasions of floating in the waters of the Liberal Left and abandoning the more conservative ways of the GOP’s Reagan Revolution. With President Bush, we received a bill of goods that was not what was promised. In the NRO piece, Bush the Hall Monitor, authors Frederick M. Hess & Michael J. Petrillita take note of this.
At a recent speaking engagement at the American Enterprise Institute, President Bush spoke about his main domestic accomplishment, the No Child Left Behind Act.
NRO-“The basic principle inherent in No Child Left Behind, the philosophy of it, remained very much intact in the bill — and it’s working,” he said.” You can compromise points, but don’t sell out the principle that is inherent in the bill.”
Originally presented as conservative styled reform which, in principal, sought to increase the successes of output while downsizing the interference of legislators. However, after numerous compromises with the Left the face of NCLB, was quite different. What was reached was a increase in federal micromanagement, race based accountability for schools, and an increase of federal spending on education with little effort to enforce transparency on how the money is being spent.
Then we have the bailouts; the biggest Bush shot at fiscal conservatism was the highly controversial $700 billion reactionary TARP. The main problem with the TARP was that no one took a breath and at least tried to figure out how to do it properly. Fear was motivating a solution.
From the Brookings Institute,
Brookings-What went wrong with TARP? The GAO audit observes that Treasury has failed to track how banks are deploying their TARP dollars. Legislators argue that Treasury has undermined congressional intent by failing to use TARP funds to help stem the tide of residential foreclosures and by being too lenient on banks receiving taxpayer capital.
Not many people argued against a shot of liquidity for banks, but what has been questioned is the amount of power given to Secretary Paulson, the amount of taxpayer money being spent, and how deployment of these loans was never regulated. The Bush economic doctrine has been spend, spend, spend, and when the economy tanked, it was spend some more. Only this time the largess has pushed free-market capitalism to the brink of socialism.
The second volley was the Auto Bailout and the administration’s betrayal of Senate Republicans, who blocked the measure, by possibly allocating funds to the UAW and Big 3 without any real stipulations (Ford, as of now, has not chosen to partake in TARP assistance.).
As G. Tracy Mehan, III points out in his article on the American Spectator, Compassionate Conservatism for Detroit,
AmSpec-What the Bush administration has essentially done is hand out many billions of dollars with essentially zero leverage over the final restructuring of the companies including the product lines and platforms, dealerships, UAW wages, benefits and work rules. The so-called conditions are so much hot air. Absent a pre-arranged or “orderly bankruptcy,” the Big Two will most assuredly become perpetual wards of the federal government with two of three branches firmly in control of the Democratic Party and, pari passu, the UAW. There will be no true reform or accountability. It is the same old same-old.
Many Republican constituents have felt duped by actions that the Bush administration has carried out over eight years. The particular situations only highlight the administration’ s sinking into a sea of government expansion and Republican Socialism. Many of the President’s policies have deviated from the tenets of conservatism thus alienating a large segment of the GOP’s voting base.
Kristin Soltis of Pollster. com showed that the Democratic increase in the electorate was only up 2%, from 37% to 39%. An aggregate increase of 3.6 million more Democratic voters in 08′ over 04′. Whereas 5 million fewer Republican voters came out, or switched their party affiliation to Independent. Turnout among Independents was up by about 4.5 million voters. It seems that some people no longer identified with the present GOP brand that President Bush represents and wanted something different.
Not talked about in Ms. Soltis’s article is the inclusion of Hillary voters (PUMA’s) who have switched to Independent. It seems plausible that many former GOP’ers simply stayed home, either due to their dislike of Palin, or more evident, their dislike John McCain. In conclusion the Progressive hype about the changing mentality in America to Center-Left is just that, hype.