Tuesday, June 06, 2006

All conservatives are not alike

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:22 PM |  

The lead graf of a Chicago Tribune article on President Bush’s statement on a federal constitutional amendment defining marraige makes the common mistake of assuming that conservatives are all of one mind on social, fiscal issues and foreign policy issues.
With his renewed call Monday for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, President Bush reasserted his allegiance to a conservative constituency whose support for him has significantly eroded in the face of soaring government spending and a controversial immigration proposal.
A necessary if not also sufficient chacteristic of conservatism is belief in limited government. For some limited government conservatives the focus is economic issues. For others, the belief in limited government leads to a more libertarian attitude toward lifestyle choices. Some conservatives oppose an interventionist foreign policy.

The Chicago Tribune lead, although grossly misleading, is illustrative of the way the Republican party is confusing being the party of less government (less than Democrats propose) with being the party of limited government (a concrete principle).

There is no necessary assurance that the President’s support for a marriage amendment is going to placate conservatives that are disappointed over his fiscal polices. Faithful limited government conservatives will more than likely be ticked off with him on both counts.

Further, it is the lack of constancy to the principle of limited government that makes it increasingly difficult for Republicans to articulate a defense of free-market capitalism and limited government. It results in indefensible conflicting positions -- welfare cuts and business subsidies; federalism and a national marriage law.

There’s an excellent discussion of this issue at the Cato Institute site.