The famed fat lady hasn’t sung yet, but she’s warming up. Sen. John McCain’s campaign has the feel of a farewell tour. His imminent loss gives conservatives another reason to drop the Republican Party.
The GOP long ago abandoned those who believe in limited government and individual liberty. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Republican Party responded to new Democratic spending initiatives with “me too.” Richard Nixon embraced and signed into law much of today’s regulatory establishment.
Ronald Reagan attempted to break the cycle, but his successors returned to pre-Reagan patterns. The new House majority elected in 1994 also took a run against the status quo, but the Republican leadership soon started looking like the Democrats, putting reelection above principle.
Over much of the last eight years Republicans have controlled the presidency and the Congress, yet spending rose faster than any time since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” Earmarks hit a record. The GOP increased domestic, as well as military, outlays. As a result, the budget for virtually every government agency, from the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services, expanded.
In 2003, the president and Congress joined forces to enact the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. With Medicare and Social Security costs exploding—today we face $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities for these two programs alone—Congress approved, and the President signed, the Medicare drug benefit, adding trillions of dollars more to the bill facing future generations.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan campaigned to get rid of the Department of Education; however, President George W. Bush made this agency bigger and the Republican Congress gave it more power with the misnamed “No Child Left Behind Act." President Reagan deregulated oil prices. The Bush administration and Republican Congress have pushed more subsidies for the energy industry.
When the housing crisis broke, the administration supported a $300 billion industry bailout that included millions of dollars for ACORN, a virtual adjunct of the Democratic Party. The Republican president supported using hundreds of billions of dollars more to bail-out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, AIG insurance, and then all of Wall Street. We’re now over $2 trillion in bailouts—all of them supported by President Bush and Sen. McCain, and still there’s no end in sight.
Indeed, Sen. McCain wants to force taxpayers to buy up every bad mortgage in America—at face value, bailing-out every irresponsible lender and borrower in the country. Never mind looking out for the taxpayers who borrowed responsibly and pay their mortgage every month.
Yes, Sen. McCain has campaigned against earmarks, but they account for less than $20 billion a year, while the federal deficit in 2009 is expected to run as much as $1 trillion. And who can forget that when the Senate was considering the recent Wall Street bailout legislation after suffering an initial defeat in the House, Senator McCain was leading the effort to bulk it up with an additional $150 billion in sweeteners?
Moreover, the Republican Party has abandoned its commitment to constitutional government. The GOP once believed in federalism, but now it is the Republican Party that pushes to expand national control over education. Republicans once recognized that the national government was one of limited, enumerated powers, yet it was Sen. John McCain who led the congressional “investigation” of steroid use in baseball.
Even more serious has been the sustained presidential and congressional assault on the system of separation of powers and checks and balances. President Bush’s theory of the "unitary executive" assumes that the president can ignore any statute—even the Constitution—whenever he claims it is necessary for "national security." The Republican Congress aided and abetted the administration’s pervasive and systemic misconduct.
The Founders expected the president to act to protect America, but they also carefully designed the Constitution to limit government power and ensure accountability for those who exercised power. Conservatives once opposed executive aggrandizement by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, yet it is the modern-day Republican Party that has turned these liberal icons into its newest patron saints.
Finally, today’s GOP has adopted as its foreign policy the neoconservative ideology of global social engineering, irrespective of cost. Traditional conservative foreign policy emphasized defense of America, not endless war for nation building and democracy-promotion. Unfortunately, Sen. McCain, even more than President Bush, seems determined to sacrifice American lives and our country's wealth in a vain attempt to reorder the globe rather than defend America.
A conservative vote for Sen. McCain is a wasted vote. It is wasted because even if he is elected, he does not stand for conservative values and will not promote conservative values. Government will grow, spending will rise, and liberty will diminish.
But it looks increasingly likely that he won’t be elected, and no one will care about his vote totals if he loses. In contrast, a vote for Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party will be noticed and will have a lasting, positive impact. A vote for Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party will be a vote for liberty and for America’s future.