STRIKING BACK: ‘Compassionate Conservatives’ vs. Tea Party InsurgentsPosted: January 10, 2014
Philip Klein writes: When the Tea Party movement emerged to challenge President Obama in 2009, it also posed a counterweight to the “compassionate conservative” wing of the Republican Party, which was defined by the expansionist policies of President George W. Bush.
After years of being marginalized, compassionate conservatives – emboldened by the overreach of Tea Party conservatives during last fall’s government shutdown fight – are attempting to reassert control over the party.
In the winter 2014 issue of National Affairs, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner – two former speechwriters and advisers to Bush – propose “A Conservative Vision of Government,” in which they advance many of the arguments that were used 15 years ago to sideline small-government conservatives and lay the groundwork for the Bush-era spending binge.
Gerson and Wehner are concerned about the libertarian lurch among Republicans. Not only is this “anti-government” trend unproductive and politically suicidal, they argue, but it contradicts the vision of the nation’s founders, whose principles Tea Party leaders argue they’re out to uphold.
The U.S. Constitution, Gerson and Wehner argue, was not a “purely limiting document,” but a framework for allowing government to take positive actions.
Though it’s true that the Constitution gave power to a federal government that did not exist previously, this amounts to attacking a straw man, as limited government conservatives are not arguing for a return to the Articles of Confederation. They just wish Congress would act within the powers granted to it by the states through the Constitution, and check back with the states if federal lawmakers want to claim more powers through amendment.
Gerson and Wehner use quotes from the founders (who were arguing at a time of much smaller government) to bolster their views for a bigger role, but they ignore quotes in which founders sound much more like today’s Tea Partiers.
Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, called for “a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
- Compassionate Conservatives Are Confusing A Slogan With An Agenda (grumpyelder.com)
- Michael Gerson Doesn’t Get It: The State Undermines Conservtism (politicaloutcast.com)
- Michael Gerson: Listening to the founders (sacbee.com)
- Tainted Tea: Obama Donor to Head IRS Tea Party Targeting Investigation (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Obama Donor to Head IRS Tea Party Targeting Investigation (gopthedailydose.com)
- Republican Reform? (readersupportednews.org)
- Mark Levin Lays Out Plan for Curbing Government Expansion: ‘Thank God for the Tea Party’ (breitbart.com)
- Michael Gerson: What the Founding Fathers really meant (goerie.com)
- Obama Fiddles While the Economy Burns (rushlimbaugh.com)
- The Fix is in: Obama Donor to Head IRS Tea Party Targeting Investigation (dancingczars.wordpress.com)