Et tu, Brute?
Conservatives created Barack Obama and his vision of the Europeanization of America, and so have themselves to blame for the current recessional, as the present as we have known it fades into the past..
Let me explain. Yes, I know that the 2000-01 recession, Hurricane Katrina, two wars, and a $1 trillion hit after 9/11 made fiscal discipline hard. But being a conservative in America these days is hard—and one gets very little leeway or second chances. Not disowning a Ted Stevens and instead pointing to a Charles Rangel or John Murtha or William Jefferson is fatal for a conservative. We expect such things from a promiscuous spender, but cannot tolerate it from a professed budget hawk.
Pillars of Wisdom
The pillar of conservatism is fiscal responsibility.
Why? Balancing budgets and saying no to always expanding government, first, is a moral issue. Just as the individual does not borrow from others to satisfy his own appetite, does not consume what he does not earn, so too government should not spend what the nation has not produced. The conservative, as the custodian of ancient morality, must remind the populace of the thriftiness of our ancestors that explains the bounty we inherited. If not he, who will say that life is not fair, that human nature is predictable and thus tragic, that in our brief corporal lives we can guarantee an equality of rough opportunity but hardly mandate an equality of absolute result—since we are mere mortals, not gods?
Second, there are crass political concerns as well. The greater government grows, the larger the number of those receiving and expecting entitlements, and the more expansive the public work force becomes, so likewise the more permanent is the recipient constituency for high taxes, big government, and perpetual largess. The tragedy of the present disaster is that the Democrats are forming dependencies—cf. the President’s promises to provide new proposals for guaranteed cradle-to-grave education, health care, jobs, etc.—through these massive outlays that will last almost indefinitely—until the system collapses from its own weight and we start over again
Third, there is the question of hypocrisy. The liberal philosophy maintains that government, better than thousands of informed and self-interested individuals, can direct and guide our lives and national purpose. It has more confidence in the tenured bureuacrat than it does the small businessman, whose unpredictability and autonomy prove too disruptive to the common vision. If conservatives borrow and spend, then liberals quite naturally sense there are no longer any fiscal auditors left, and they can—and must—trump their newfound competitors for dependent constituents. For the liberal Democrat it is a liberating experience to see a free-spending Republican conservative run up deficits in hopes of providing largess and earmarks to his constituents—the proverbial mouse swallowed by the python, or the strutting hawk trapped under the eagle’s talon.
It Wasn’t Yours to Begin With
Four, philosophically, conservatism hinges on rewarding the individual for his success, on the theory that such encouragement will eventually mean greater wealth for the common good, and reminds the citizenry that the individual, not government, owns his own wealth. But once spending spirals out of control, then naturally the government must take measures to raise revenue—and to accomplish that goal, it must educate the populace that the “rich” are greedy, and impoverish rather than enrich the commons; and, second, that wealth naturally belongs to the government. It taxes and thus merely takes back what is naturally its own, rather than lets be that which it has no intrinsic right to.
So the Republicans betrayed their own principles and allowed the Democrats in 2006 and 2008 to run against deficits in order that they could enlarge deficits, convinced that the natural opposition was long ago discredited.