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Don't Abandon Conservative Principles and Ideas

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Democrats are, and have always been, getting their way on taxing and spending. Here’s proof of that: Government spending went up in 2011, despite the debt-ceiling showdown over the summer and at least three potential government shutdowns.

In fact, that is the reason - not obstinacy, not partisanship, not racism - that House Republicans and current Republican presidential candidates cite for their hesitancy to compromise. We have fallen for “compromises” before. Ronald Reagan and the Democrats had several “grand bargains” and, to no one’s surprise, Reagan never got the spending cuts that he was promised. A quarter of a century later, Democrats on the super committee wanted trillions of dollars in new taxes and called this a compromise. The taxes are always immediate; the spending cuts are made after the election and then are repealed by the next Congress before they can take effect.

Americans have every right to be frustrated. In 2011, their government had a $1.5 trillion deficit and $15 trillion in debt, and nearly shut down over a couple of billion dollars that - surprise - the Democrats wouldn’t cut. We have huge problems that we are simply not facing. Who really is obstructionist? If you can’t tell, look at the country: Does it more closely resemble the conservative ideal of small government, equal treatment for all and low taxation? Or is the tax code 9 million words, the U.S. Code 200,000 pages, the budget full of social programs and market distortions? Whose vision is closer to what we already have?

Remember that old liberal talking point that Europe is so much better, years ahead of America? I’d like to see them use that one now. If Europe is more progressive, closer to some heretofore unrealized ideal, then it is not the ideal for us. But we are closer to European socialism than we have ever been; and it didn’t start on President Obama’s watch. It’s been going on for decades. The problem with Mr. Obama is not that he invented the problems, but that he refuses to even acknowledge that they are his to solve, as though he were leading some other, imaginary country where inequality of outcome is the only issue.

This year, we have yet another election that is primarily a reaction against the establishment, and the country has swung back and forth again, unhappy with both parties. But why?

The problem with George W. Bush was not that he was conservative, but that he was not conservative enough. He hurt the credibility of the GOP by bloating the government further, and not just the military and the Department of Homeland Security, but in his “compassionate” conservatism, blowing money on domestic spending as well.

If the Republicans stick to constitutional and classical liberal principles, they win elections. They got drunk with power after Newt Gingrich took over as House speaker in 1994 and didn’t deliver on their promises. Since then, they have collectively failed to practice what they preach. The worst of their transgressions was the Medicare Part D entitlement that House Speaker John A. Boehner and Mr. Bush added, worth about $13 trillion in unfunded dollars, hoping to bribe their way to a permanent majority. This is what we complain about the liberals doing.

I find that when you talk to people about the issues, they are far more conservative than they know. They want small government. I’m hopeful that we can repent, be actual conservatives again and win elections.

Who has been getting their way? The big-government crowd. Most Americans - not all; certainly there are true believers in government omnipotence out there - are angry with the state of our nation. It can’t be that there aren’t enough free handouts; it’s that there are too many. It can’t be that there aren’t enough abortions; it’s that there are too many. It can’t be that there are too few loopholes in the tax code; it’s that there are too many.

America, despite its 40-year expansion of the bureaucracy and erosion of the Constitution, is still at heart a center-right country, and the people will not be satisfied until it is once again governed by center-right principles. We can win this year; we just have to practice what we preach.

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