Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Whose definition of "conservative"?

Does it mean that you prefer less government in our lives? Which of the following are consistent with “less government”:

Overturning states’ rights in the case of medical marijuana?
Seeking to overturn the popular vote on Right-to-die?
Using the power of Congress to bludgeon Mark Schiavo, who turns out to have been right on every count?
Seeking to overturn laws like Miranda, which protect citizens from government’s abuse of police power?
Using the intelligence agencies to investigate scientists who do research on global warming?
Using police power to arrest and imprison heterosexual couples for practicing sodomy in their own homes?
Compiling “no-fly” lists based on non-disclosed criteria, and without informing those placed on the lists?
Passing a Prescription Drug Act which forces government to pay for drugs without giving it the power to negotiate the terms?
Waging a nationwide campaign for term limits and then reneging once you win a majority?
Forgetting that your party once stood for fiscal responsibility?

If you are, like me, are against heavy-handed government interference in human enterprise, how do you fit the above into your world view?

History: Which president instituted wage and price controls? Which president travelled to Japan to try to bully them into buying more American cars? How many people know that Bush II has killed the SBIC programme, which provided low-cost leverage for startup enterprises, while expanding agricultural subsidies by several times the amount? Does that make sense????

Conversely, which administration ran the last net surpluses? Who was responsible for GATT reform, NAFTA, and WTO? Clinton did more to reduce government’s drag on trade than all the recent Republican administrations combined. (You may hate NAFTA, but that's another story.)

From the time I first heard conservatives rally around the Reagan mantra of small government, I sensed it was a scam. They like big government as much as liberals; the only difference is who gets to bear the weight, and who gets the handouts. The only area where conservatives seem to rise to the occasion is in matters of property rights, as in their dissent to the recent Kelo decision in Connecticut (I was horrified by that decision, as were many, both conservative and liberal). On other issues, "conservatives" are quite happy to let government stomp all over us.

It is not the principle that bothers me. It is the breathtaking disconnect between rhetoric and reality.

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