Conservative ideals and the current US administration.

Brought up in this thread:

Shodan stated:

*"The basic principles of my particular brand of American conservatism can be oversimplified as

  • Limited government
  • Individual freedom
  • Personal responsibility
  • Free markets*

The above I think is a pretty good representation of what ideals the average US conservative has (although they are very libertarian in my view and not republican). Do you think the current US administration is living by the above ideals? If not, what brand of American conservatism is the current administration, and what are its ideals?

  • Limited government

Not in the least. The government has grown rapidly in both size and range of authority.

  • Individual freedom

Yes and no. Most of the examples of abuses have been a little overblown, though they are troubling for their secrecy and absolute disdain for people who don’t simply let it lie. Tax cuts are an oft-forgotten form of freedom. As is fighting AA. But there are a lot of things the administration is against. I think this question is really hard to answer unless you have a good common list of what freedoms we are talking about.

  • Personal responsibility

Sort of? Mostly when convienient, and not really any more or less than anyone else. This is mostly rhetoric on any side of the political spectrum, rather than a serious point in an non-strawman discussion.

  • Free markets

Lot of lip service, but other than tax freedom, I’ve seen no real commitment to free market policies. Tarrifs are not free market. Huge subsidies are not free market (though they are as much the fault of all of Washington as anyone). And, indeed, undermining things like pollution markets that free market economists are wildly in favor of, is not exactly sticking to the orthodoxy of free market commitments.

Apos pretty much nailed it, though I think one could reasonably classify conservatism as promoting personal responsibility more than liberalism, without degenerating into strawman territory. Not this is usually done successfully in politics, of course.

To make a broad generalization, the current administrations foreign policy has been pretty much inline with mainstream conservative “ideology” (and I hesitate to use that word, given how much conservatism represents that absence of ideology). However, domestic policy has been largely a train wreck. Some generally agreeable tax cuts notwithstanding, this administration has increased protectionist tariffs, run from its convictions on AA, increased spending by colossal amounts, promoted education and health care bills that blew huge amounts of money without actually improving anything, and caved to the opposition more often than not in the name of “bipartisanship”. As much as his opponents love to paint Bush as a right-wing extremist, in most areas, Bush is as much a moderate as Clinton was.

My own opinion is that I like Bush a great deal as a person, and admire much of what he’s done, but his presidency is a mixed bag. He’s guaranteed my vote in '04 only by virtue of the fact that the current batch of Democratic frontrunners make me want to retch - if a decent Dem comes around, I’ll likely vote Libertarian.

The Republicans are, by and large, “Democrats lite”. On almost all fundamental issues, the two parties differ only in degree. The Republicans have pretty much accepted the Democratic platform and have toned it down a few notches. They tend to emphasize personal economic freedom, but often try to suppress social freedoms (like pornography). They tend to lower taxes, but build in just as many loopholes and deductions aimed at “social engineering” and do very little, if anything to actually shrink the size of gov’t. They are just as likely to offer protective tarrifs to certain industries (for political purposes) as the Dems are. They tend to do best in the area of Personal Responsibility.

If conservatives are such staunch supporters of personal freedom, why are they already gearing up to fight this week’s Supreme Court decision striking down anti-gay sodomy laws?

Yeah, real strong support of personal freedom there. :rolleyes:

Well, the OP was asking about the current administration, and the FRC isn’t really the current administration. So, let’s see what Bush actually has to say about the Texas statute:

Note, this is most definitely not an impartial site, but I have seen the following quote attributed elsewhere:

The article says that Bush may be playing both sides of the fence here. Refusing to repeal a law that nobody expects to be enforced. I say BS. If a law is on the books, there’s always a potential for enforcement, and Bush outright refused to repeal it (to be fair, the law was signed into being by Democratic governer Ann Richards, and I have no love for Democrats either).

So, basically, when Republicans talk about individual freedom, what they really mean is that everybody should kowtow to traditional Christian morality, or else.

While Libertarians might believe in individual freedom, Republicans clearly do not, and neither does this administration.

Can some one expand on the personal responsibility principe. Could maybe Shodan or anyone else with insight delve a little deeper into that tenent of conservatism and what it means and if you think the Bush administration has supported it.

The thing is, it’s so hard to actually define what “conservative” is. There are Christian conservatives, economic conservatives, national defense conservatives, and many other brands of conservatives who all co-exist under the Republican Party banner, but to say there is a coherent conservative ideology is impossible. The Bush Administration is generally conservative in the sense it serves each of these interest groups – the Christian conservatives love him for his pro-life policies, the economic conservatives love him because of his tax cuts, and the national defense conservatives love him because of his Iraq actions. Of course, each group has issues with him. Christian conservatives don’t like that Bush isn’t pushing hard enough for conservative judges, economic conservatives don’t like his increased government spending, and national defense conservatives want him to invade Iran (or Syria or North Korea). So I would say that in a general sense, Bush is a pretty conservative president, but if you hold him to one strict definition of “conservative,” then he would fail.

By lowering taxes, when a democrat would have probably raised them by now, Bush has done a lot for everything on the conservative list.

  • Limited government

There are two ways to do this. Cut programs or lower taxes. Cutting programs would give the dems ammunition to use against Bush. By lowering taxes, maybe people will get used to paying less and won’t mind some cuts of social programs later to keep the taxes down. You may disagree with this strategy, but it’s certainly a way of limiting government.

  • Individual freedom
  • Personal responsibility

The best way to promote both of these idea’s IMO is to limit the size of government, cut taxes and not create any additional government entitlement programs. Bush could certainly do more of these things. But it would cost him politically.

  • Free markets

Bush talks about free markets often. His speeches are peppered with it. To be honest, I don’t know about any specific legislation or executive orders that he has presented on this issue one way or the other.

I would argue that the best example of Bush deviating from conservative principles was allowing the Campaign Finance Reform bill to go through. He can’t have thought it was a good idea, but didn’t want to suffer the politcal fallout. So, IMHO, he sacrificed his principles for political gain. Also, he was counting on the USSC to overturn it.

FYI, there was an entire thread devoted to this about 3 months ago. Shouldn’t be too hard to find with the SEARCH function.

Since conservatism, whether the Republican or Libertarian flavor, seems to espouse this issue of “personal responsibility,” and this is one of the areas where there is more of a clear cut difference between the left and the right, I feel this is an interesting area of this thread to delve deeper into. I am not trying to stray from the OP, indeed I would like to know if the Bush administration has shown a commitment to slashing entitlements and launching a full scale pre-emptive strike on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

BTW – a SDMB search on the topic of personal responsibility yielded a variety of topics far too wide reaching to look at each one. However there was one common theme…every one had sometimes insightful and interesting, but mostly snide and condescending posts by John Mace . But hey, I’m just a newbie, what do I know.

hilltopper, theres a forum called The BBQ Pit. You should look into it.

You’re mixing political-philosophical conservatives with social-religious conservatives. They are allies, and often overlap, but aren’t the same thing despite the name. The minimum-government types shouldn’t have a problem, and don’t seem to, but the Bible-thumpers should, and do seem to.

You’d find out more if you ask someone who espouses both types of “conservatism” how s/he reconciles them.

I don’t know if this was aimed at me, but it’s not me doing the mixing, it’s the Republicans. The OP quoted Shodan’s post regarding conservative ideals. In the other thread, Shodan stated that this was his personal brand of conservatism. Fair enough. But it is clearly not the Republican brand of conservatism.

Take a look at another issue concerning individual freedom, drug legalization. The libertarian party is for drug legalization. The Republican party is not. There is the occasional Republican who is for legalization, but the party as a whole, and this administration are not for it. Since the Bush administration’s arrival in office, we have seen ads equating drug usage with terrorism. And the Bush administration campaigned heavily against the Nevada marijuana legalization propostion.

I stand by my initial assertion. The Republican party is not for individual freedom. Rather, they want government to be in the business of legislating private actions and morality, and this is Bush’s philosophy as well.

Erp. I mean the Nevada decriminalization proposition.

BrightNShiny, my comment was directed at the OP, not you. Whatever.

I do agree with your characterization of the official Republican position, but I’d suggest that it simply reflects the dominance of the social-religious branch of “conservatives” over the political-philosophical branch in the party’s current leadership, Bush included.

Ok. I wasn’t trying to sound rude to you or anything. Apologies if that’s how I cam across.