Back when I registered to vote (1977), the "solid south" was solidly Democratic and "conservative republicans" (small letter "r") were actually conservative. At that time, I considered myself a "conservative republican" and registered to vote as such. Boy, how times have changed. What has happened to "conservative republicans"?
The definition of a "conservative Republican" (cap letter R): A person who believes in the following: small government and free enterprise; the individual protections and liberties guaranteed in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights; the separation of church and state; fiscal responsibility, low and fair taxes, and balanced budgets; a strong military and a firm and fair foreign policy which respects the rights of sovereign countries; free and fair trade; using our natural resources for the benefit of the country but whom also believes in leaving a healthy environment for their children and the generations to come; that America is only as strong as its broad middle class.
Well, there's the problem right there - this definition no longer applies. Let's examine each aspect of a traditional "conservative republican" and see if Bush qualifies:
1) A person who believes in small government and free enterprise. Hmm...small government you say? President Clinton, in his 8 years as President, reduced the size of the US government to that of the Kennedy administration. He did this using computers and office automation to upgrade the government's beauracracy, reducing the number of Federal employees in the process. As a contrast, the 7 years of the Bush administration has seen a huge increase in the number of Federal employees. If one counts Federally bank-rolled private contracting firms, the number is even more astounding - by far the largest size the Federal government has ever been. This is not due to simply growth in "Homeland Defense", but is across the board. Unfortunately, education and infrastructor did not participate in the growth. Not only has the government beaurcracy grown, but it was decided early in the Bush years not to pay for the growth, a nice present for our kids and grandkids. So, in this regard, who was more like a traditional "conservative Republican", Clinton or Bush?
2) Individual protections and liberties guaranteed in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Hmmm....let's see...The Bush government now has the right to listen to your phone calls and get your complete calling history from your phone company. The Bush government is using the GPS systems in our phones and cars to track our geographic movements. The Bush goverment can now torture. Cameras are deployed in all major US cities watching our every move, with advanced imaging software linked to huge tracking databases. A global individual rights watchdog group's 2007 report put the US in the same group as Russia, dead last. This group listed their biggest concern to the fact that Congress is debating "ID cards" (similar to the ones the UK is issuing in Wales) which will potentially have photos, finger-print, and perhaps DNA information on them. Their concern is that these cards will be manditory to receive the simplest of services. The US Justice department is apparently no longer a seperate branch of government, but tied directly to the bequests of the executive branch. And, a person in Florida was recently tasered by a policemen for having the unmitigated audacity to exercise his rights of free speech by asking John Kerry to explain his ties to the Skull & Bones club at Yale (which of course the Bush family is tied to as well). And, the ultimate blow to "freedom" was the introduction of the electronic voting machine, which the state of California (thank God someone was paying attention!) labelled as the ultimate killer of democracy and declared them unlawful in that state. Unfortunately, not many other states have followed suit. So, is Bush really a "conservative republican" in the traditional and historical sense? Absolutely not. 1984? you bet, except Orwell was 20 years too early.
3) Separation of church and state...Hmm...let's see, we have elections focused on silly issues of abortion and gay marriage instead of the real world-class issues. We have priests, ministers, and rabbis speaking from the pulpit and telling their congregations who to vote for. We have tax breaks for churches, but only for certain religious affiliations. We increasingly have the "religious right" lobbyists controlling Congressional policy and screening our Supreme Court justices. Here we have a country (the US) formed by immigrants fleeing from European religious persecution specifically writing in our country's founding documents that church and state be kept separate. How ironic that Europe, who has gotten over "religion", now gazes across the Atlantic wondering what the hell happened to America? So, are Bush and the "conservative republicans" really that wrt to separation of church and state? Absolutely not...in fact, they use and abuse the ignorance of the religious right to get elected. As an aside, I personally see nothing "Christian" about the Bush/Cheney administration...that is, if you compare the actual writings of Christ with the actions and policies of the administration. I am constantly flabergasted at how so called "Christians" can be so ferverntly pro-Bush. I'd rather they'd be atheists and despise him!
4) Fiscal responsibility, low and fair taxes, and balanced budgets. Hmmm...we have by far the largest fiscal debt in the history of the country. And I don't buy this argument about debt as a % of GDP. Hogwash, you still have to finance the debt regardless of the % of GDP! The Bush fiscal and budget policies are a disaster. We have hedge fund managers making $500 million per year who have specific loop holes for them to escape taxation because they are "entrepeneurs" and "create jobs". BS. Despite the spin, I love to quote Jack Nicholson in the classic movie Chinatown: "You can read the papers, listen to the news, and watch all the TV ya want, but if ya wanna know what really happened, follow the money." Well, the money during the Bush years has gone to the Wall Streeters and his political "friends" in the utility, oil, timber, and financial industries. We have a sub-prime fiasco that sent the financial stocks on Wall Street soaring and the bonus and salaries of the CEO's to the moon. Now, we see the stocks falling, the CEO's laid off, and calls for a government bailout. But guess what? The CEO's already got their payoff (and CNBC wants us to feel sorry for them?). So did the friend of Cheney in Louisiana who got paid $80,000/month for a 2 acre plot of swampland to store the FEMA trailers (all the trailers were destroyed in a flood by a typical LA afternoon rain). Follow the money? Well, you must leave the country as the dollar has dropped 40% since Bush took office. We are FULLY dependent on the Chinese to buy our bonds to finance the debt, which they are willing to do...for now at least. What will happen when the percentage of Chinese exports to the US becomes less and less? Will the Chinese continue to buy bonds of a sinking currency? What happens when the US then has to raise the interest rates on these bonds to get buyers? Hmm....will "old Europe" buy the bonds? I think not..they just bought AAA-rated (thanks S&P, Moodys, and Fitch!) sub-prime debt only to find out its worth what, 20 cents on the dollar? I don't think the European central bankers will be willing in the future to bail out Wall Street at the expense of their own citizens' savings. Follow the money..well, Bernake now has to lower interest rates in order to bailout the Wall Streeters (very reminiscent of Bush #1 and the savings and loan disaster, don't you agree? the "RTC" or "resolution trust corp" was used then...and there was nothing about that to "trust" let me tell you...) and the Federal Reserves printing presses are working over time. Meanwhile...oil is over $90 a barrel and milk, beef, and wheat prices are rising quickly. The Chinese and Arabs are buying off huge chunks of America's biggest banks and financial institutions (who btw have all your financial information in their databases). What do the Bush policies have in store wrt inflation? Inflation is going to roar like a caged Tiger while Bush forces Bernake to cut rates. Why do you think gold is close to $900/oz today? Hmm....this is NOT conservative republicanism. Not by a long shot.
5) A strong military and a firm and fair foreign policy. Hmm....well, our military is strong wrt to advanced weaponry, but that's always the case in a military industrial society like ours. That said, is the military strong when tour duties in Iraq are double and triple what they are supposed to be? Is our military strong when we have "free-enterprise" companies like Blackwater operating in Iraq *outside the chain of command of our own military*? Is this even constitutinal?? Is our military strong when we create wars and then rush in without the number of troops our leading Generals say is required to do the job correctly? Is our military strong when our retired Generals take the unprecedented step of speaking out against the current commander-in-chief raising serious questions about intelligence, management, and overall strategy? Is our military strong when we start out to capture bin Ladin, have a marketing job pulled over our heads to begin an unnecessary war, with the result that Bush's family friend bin Ladin goes uncaptured? I wouldn't be surprised if Osama is somehow captured right before the upcoming Presidential election....What kind of foreign policy do we have that drives countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons? Hell, if I was President of Iran, and I saw how the US has destroyed Iraq, I would sure as hell be developing a nuclear warhead! I remember when a Brazilian citizen was recently asked to comment on Petrobras' huge off-shore oil discovery. The Brazilian declared "I wish Petrobras would quit finding so much oil - soon Bush will invade!" And, although I laughed, this man was NOT laughing. He was dead serious. But it's not only the Arab countries we have pissed off, it's also "old" Europe and the rest of the world. It is fair to say, and I have travelled all over the world, under Bush, the US has gone from one of the most admired (if not THE most admired) countries on the planet to the most hated country, and the country most recently polled as the most "terroristic" country on the planet by the rest of the civilized world. Is this "conservative republicanism" policy? I think not. It is fascist uni-lateralism.
6) Free and fair trade. Bush is certainly for free trade, but let's examine the policies. Unfortunately, the largest component of the trade deficit is oil. Oil is over $90/barrel enriching Bush's friends the Saudis, but also enriching the entire Middle East and Russia, causing Putin to flex his country's muscles, and why not? Russia, fueled by its oil and gas resources, is ascending while the US is in decline. But, do our trade policies deal with the oil issue head on? If one were to look at the recent Energy bill that was passed, the answer is definitely not. Peak oil is the largest threat to our economy and our way of life, yet the Bush administration buries its head in the sand, offering ethanol as a solution. All ethanol does is increase the price of wheat, corn, chicken, and beef - prices already heading upward as a result of the weak dollar. Is this considered "conservative republicanism" trade policy? No, it is not. But at least the oil executives are getting filthy rich.
7) Natural resources used for the benefit of the country. Hmmm...let's see, the Bush administration opened up *public* BLM lands for the benefit of his buddies in the timber and mining industries. No open bidding, just treasures by decree. Bush denied global warming for the first 6 years of his term. Bush even wanted to open up Rocky Mtn Nat. Park for oil and gas exploration as his solution to the "oil problem". Meanwhile, Bush rolled back the only good thing Nixon ever did (Nixon established the EPA and as a result, clean air and water legislation) by allowing coal burning utilities lessor air quality standards so his buddies in the utility industry can make more money while Americans get to ingest mercury in our water and in our seafood. Meanwhile, he puts a buddy from the chemicals industry in charge of the EPA's clean water division, and another buddy from the utility industry in charge of the EPA's clean air division. After California, frustrated with the EPA's lack of leadership, finally legislated their own clean air standards, Bush's Justice department declared their legislation unlawful as it is the EPA's domain! Imagine, the EPA suing California for wanting clean air?! No wonder Arnold said the EPA should be renamed the EDA, or, "Environmental Destruction Agency". Is this record on the environment typical of conservative republicans? Perhaps it is... historically... but today, with the knowledge we have about pollution and technology, who can consider these actions in the best longterm interest of the American people? Again, the policies are a complete failure.
8) Lastly, America is only as great as its broad middle class. Well, this is the bottom line on how to judge the Bush administration over the past 7 years, and the verdict is in: the middle class in the US has just been hammered. Sure, unemployment is around 5%, a historically low number. That said, the percentage of high paying manufacturing jobs has plunged while lower payer service economy jobs have increased rapidly. Senior citizens who rely on social security checks are losing ground fast as the SS inflation adjustments as fudged by the Bush economic team don't come close to keeping pace. Imagine a 2 percent increase in SS checks last year as oil went up 57% and food inflation was roughly 6%. Meanwhile, the "Bush tax cuts" were aimed squarely at the 0.01 percent of the richest Americans, while Joe-blow will get stuck with the tab for the sub-prime bailout of the Wall Streeters and for the two wars we are waging. Americans who do the right thing and save money, must be very vigilant. A CD earning 5% doesn't look so good when the dollar is dropping 7%/year, real inflation is 4-6%, and taxes take out another %. In reality, an American earning 5% on a US dollar denominated CD is actually LOSING about 7%/year in purchasing power. All this said, the worst brunt of Bush policies won't be felt until he is out of office.
In conclusion, is Bush really a "conservative Republican"? The answer is NO. He is actually the most radical President in the history of our country. You could make an argument that Bush's radical policies have done more to weaken the overall strength of the United States than any other President in history, and you would be correct.
I am now a registered Democrat, but I yearn for the days of old and REAL conservative Republicanism. Its a sad day in America when political hypocrisy on a national level can not only take place but thrive!
What's the solution? Actually, I wish the United States would go to a 3 party system, but it will never happen since the two (broken) parties are in ca-hoots to prevent it. So, we are kinda hosed unless a Lincoln or a Kennedy comes along (wait, those two guys were shot weren't they?)
If I were President, here's what I would do beginning day one by telling the American people about these changes, getting their support, and driving the legislation through Congress:
1) Anyone not elected by the American people (yes, that means the lobbyists) are not allowed in the House or the Senate chambers when they are in session. Period.
2) Begin a massive buildout of wind, solar, and nuclear energy and the infrastructure to deliver this electricity to alternative powered automobiles and other mass transit.
3) Stop making war to steal oil.
4) Make a case for raising interest rates and let the banks and Wall Streeters take their lumps.
5) Balance the budget and together with 4) above restore the value of the dollar.
6) Rip up the tax code and start over. It will be fair, and people making over $1oo million dollars a year will get taxed at higher rates!
7) Separate church and state. Speak of it. Live it.
8) Restore the 3 branches of government and the integrity of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Educate Americans from the Presidential pulpit and remind them what the Constitution does and does not allow.
9) Govern and tax by a very simple rule (Spock's rule from Star Trek): The good of the many outweigh the good of the few.
That would be a good start at implementing real conservative Republican ideals. Don't get me wrong, I am a Capitalist, and I am for wealth creation. But when the government is used as a fascist tool to rape the US treasury of the majority for the benefits of a small group of the power-elite, the long term result can only be tragic. We need change and we need it now. I can only hope that the US can recover from the two terms of George W. Bush.