Well, President Bush and the Republicans are now firmly in control. Let us see, then, if the conservative “revolution” will commence.
There is precedent for this. Over the course of 200 years in England, from the Levellers of the 17th century to the Old Whigs of the 18th and the Liberals of the 19th, the struggle for greater individual liberty, civil rights for Catholics and Jews, the repeal of thousands of laws, abolition of the slave trade, and free trade with all nations was achieved. Obviously, the process was slow, but triumphant. Western civilization reached its zenith between 1850 and 1910, thanks to the leadership of the Britain’s free trade policies.
The liberals of the first half of the 19th century share many of the beliefs of the conservatives of the 20th century and today. That government is more the cause of, rather than the solution to, most of the injustices of the day. Edmund Burke, an 18th century Whig, is the father of conservatism, but was himself a liberal by the day’s standard. Although a member of the British Parliament, he supported the American Revolution. But he was appalled by the French Revolution, which was not just the overthrow of an inhospitable government, but rather the abolition of all tradition.
That’s why classical liberalism and modern conservatism have so much in common. Both share a suspicion of the State, but do not necessarily hold a negative view of society. Both are grounded in the realization that private property and individual liberty are essential foundations of civilization and that the State is to be contained to a few, well-defined functions. A healthy, free society is grounded by traditional morality and small, decentralized government; it is not beholden to a national cult that seeks world domination in the name of “freedom.”
So now, the President and his Congress can just show the world how “conservative” they really are. Here is a list of things which, if it doesn’t all happen at once, the stage should be set for in the next four years:
1. Declaration of victory in Iraq and a quick withdrawal.
2. The firing of neo-conservatives in the Pentagon and National Security Council.
3. The complete withdrawal of troops in NATO countries and Korea and the initiation of talks to disband our military commitments to other countries.
4. Affirming a position of neutrality in foreign disputes.
5. The ending of foreign aid programs, including to Israel.
6. Withdrawal from the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
7. The abolition of the IRS and the institution of a far simpler tax code.
8. The gradual privatization of Social Security and Medicare, leading to their eventual abolition.
9. Placing the dollar back to a gold standard, with the long term goal of the abolition of the Federal Reserve System.
10. The abolition of Cabinet Departments created specifically for the catering of special interests, beginning with Commerce, Labor, and Agriculture.
11.The abolition of Cabinet Departments created specifically to nationalize government services traditionally provided by states, local governments, or the private sector, beginning with Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development.
12. A critical examination of the Constitutionality of several federal law enforcement agencies and their practices, and an Executive Order that no federal law shall be enforced in such a way that would deny any individual his rights as enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
13. The limiting, by law, of the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Congress will decide what kind of cases in a local dispute are matters for the federal courts to hear under the 14th Amendment.
14. The repeal of the Selective Service system.
15. Attempt to pass a Constitutional Amendment requiring a State’s two Senators be appointed by state legislatures, not elected by the people.
16. A review of the patenting of drugs and the approval process of the Food and Drug Administration with an eye toward lowering costs.
17. A review of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other environmental agencies of the federal government to ensure that the Fifth Amendment is respected.
18. The reassertion of Congress’s authority to Declare War, and that the delegating that authority to the President is unconstitutional.
19. A review of the legislative, executive, and legislative powers of independent agencies of the federal government. Congress will pass all regulations, and not delegate that power to an agency staffed by presumed experts. And violations of regulations will be heard in a traditional federal court.
20. Review of civil rights legislation, and of the federal government’s Constitutional power to tell individuals who they can and can’t associate with on their own property.
21. In short, smaller, less intrusive government.
Now, how many of these initiatives do you think the President will undertake? Most importantly, is it realistic that, after four more years of Bush, we will have smaller, less intrusive government?
Any intelligent reader will realize that that is absurd. Which just goes to show that the President and his Republican Congress are, by and large, not conservative at all.
So let’s stop saying that they are.