Although I am a registered Republican, I never really considered myself a party-line kind of guy. Party-line people are concerned with the survival of the party, no matter the consequence. Although I realize that this isn’t the ideal situation or approach to political governance, party survival is critical if the party you are trying to preserve is representing your political values in the governing process. However, I consider myself a conservative first, Republican voter second.
The basic core values of conservatism from a governance standpoint are less government, less taxes, more personal freedom. Less government is good government because the less you have the more personal freedom you have. Government is only needed when a problem exists in which different ideas exist to solve the problem and people need a method of developing a solution to that problem that will revolve around a compromise of ideas to form a solution that benefits everyone. An example of this is our federal highway system. No one can dispute that we need highways for transportation, but you can bet that each state has a differing view of how these highways should be built and paid for. A federal government can make a decision that may not be exactly what every state wants, but will benefit all states in an equal fashion and require all states to help pay for the solution. This would be an example of good government at work.
Our military is another example of good government. In order that the interests of all states and peoples of our nation are protected, the function of the military is controlled by the federal government so that the military doesn’t favor the interests of one state over another, while requiring all people to contribute to the operation of this protection. The same holds true for many other services, such as national parks and law enforcement to control crime that reaches across states’ lines.
If this amount of government is kept to its intended limited roll, its size will remain limited and the taxes required to support it will remain limited. This limited government roll will also result in more personal freedoms for all of us, although requiring more personal responsibility. We will not be required to participate in as many government demands, thus granting more freedoms. When problems arise, instead of asking government to grow to try and address those problems, we must take responsibility and address those problems ourselves. An example of this is experienced by all of us in our daily lives. We wouldn’t dare think of having a police officer on every street corner for fear of living in a police state; however we must equip ourselves to defend against those criminals that our limited police force can’t protect us against. We take responsibility for our own safety.
Somewhere, somehow, the idea that the Republican Party was a conservative party has been lost. If the Republican Party was a party of conservatives, they would practice the fundamental concepts of less government, less taxes, and more personal freedoms. Examples of the abandonment of this concept are evident in both Washington, D.C. and Tallahassee, Florida. While it has become standard practice to label those Republicans that don’t follow the principles of conservatism Republican In Name Only (RINO), it could be said that almost every Republican in office today is a RINO.
The Republican Party, my conservative party, has been hijacked by RINOs that don’t understand the three principles of conservatism. Who hijacked it? Politicians who try to expand the role of Social Security and Medicare to cover those retirement needs which the recipients failed to plan for. Social Security , or SSI as it is known, was originally developed as a “supplemental” retirement plan, designed to “supplement” a person’s other retirement plan or pension. Instead, it has been expanded to include prescription drugs and supplemental insurance plans that it was never intended to cover, all under Republican leadership. That statement might anger seniors reading this, but it is government expansion, which is not a conservative principle.
Although I am 100% against abortion, the insistence of the evangelical right to impose its pro-life beliefs on the nation is requiring the creation of new laws that have the ear of Republican politicians looking to expand their voter base. These laws in essence expand government intrusion into the personal lives of its citizens. This statement will anger pro-lifers, but is on point when discussing the conservative principle of less government. It is the personal responsibility of each of us to live our lives according to God’s word, and those who don’t will be judged by the Creator. While I find abortion a sickening and disgusting substitute for proper family planning, imposing the will of the government on a woman’s body is an expansion of government and does not follow conservatism’s core principles.
The Bush administration tax cuts were another example of conservatism gone awry. Government costs money to run, money which is derived from taxes. While it is understood that letting people keep more of their money will stimulate the economy, the resulting decrease in tax revenue should have been accompanied by a decrease in government spending. The Bush administration and the Republican Party went out and sold people on the idea that government spending couldn’t be reduced because it was war spending and mostly military. They never looked at cutting social welfare programs. They never looked at cutting government agencies bloated to critical mass from the Clinton years. Republican leaders just cut taxes and increased the deficits, resulting in a national debt that is unsustainable. Many of these Republican lawmakers are still in office pointing their tainted fingers at President Obama for doing the very same thing.
What’s my point of all of this? It’s simple. The Republican Party has been hijacked by big business, evangelicals, and the military-industrial complex. Conservatism is not about using government control to impose your beliefs on others. Conservatism is not about creating a tax code that provides breaks without breaking down spending and eliminating earmarks. Conservatism is not about giving an open checkbook to the Pentagon with no accountability or logical spending plan. Conservatism is about less government, less taxation, more personal freedom. If the Republican Party is about conservatism and expects to survive with that philosophy intact, then it better start concentrating on and practicing its core beliefs, while weeding out the RINOs, because it appears that there are more RINO’s than one might expect.