Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, none of this happened. Instead, Republicans definitively established that all of their talk of “limited government” was just that.
That is, they established to the satisfaction of both their opponents as well as a not inconsiderable number of their constituents that they were just as committed to Big Government as were their nemeses. That ever fewer Republicans have showed up at the polls in the last two presidential election cycles proves that long before Bozell had his revelation, Republican voters on the ground got the message loudly and clearly.
But how could anyone not have seen this?
The scope and size of the federal government expanded exponentially while in the care of Republicans under Bush II. Not since Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” had the federal government figured so powerfully in American life. The only difference is that spending under Bush II was even greater than that which occurred under Johnson.
Bush II and his Republicans launched two woefully unpopular, drawn out wars. In prosecuting them, he assumed unto the executive branch heretofore unseen powers—like the ominously named “Patriot Act,” say—that has left legions of patriots shivering. This is bad enough in itself, but to compound the problem, it erects a dangerous precedent for future presidents to appropriate those very same powers for all manner of evil.
Of course, there is a host of other resolutely anti-conservative policies for which Bush II and his Congress successfully fought. To briefly touch upon only a few, there was: No Child Left Behind (the now nearly universally despised law that increased the federal government’s role in education); the Home Ownership Society (which facilitated the explosion of the housing bubble and the onslaught of the recession of ’08); Medicare “Part D” (the exorbitantly expensive prescription drug entitlement of ’03); and federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (an unprecedented step that only retarded any progress that the pro-life movement could be said to have made).
Bozell is right that “conservatives should start looking for a new home.” Yet he fails to see that this is a search that should have begun a long time ago.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.