A National Review editor writes: “Perhaps we have been a bit soft on the president….”
I don’t think the magazine is intentionally soft on the Bush administration, just misled by the hopes and expectations of its conservatives who have been hoodwinked by the administration. Jonah [Goldberg] was right to be leery of “compassionate conservativism”, for as Hayek once wrote of social justice, any noun that is modified by an adjective is no longer the pure noun. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
Personally, I believe that we are witnessing the beginnings of a landmark transformation, comparable to the death of the Whig party more than a century ago. An Italian admiral once pointed out to me that in political terms, the great intellectual battle of history is between the collectivist vision of Plato and the individualist vision of Aristotle, and so the merger of the Republican and Democratic parties into a Platonist big tent will inevitably lead to the birth of a new party championing many of the ideals for which the Republican party once stood – and in which many Republicans still believe.
There is a hoary old excuse that claims as soon as the Republicans achieve power, we’ll see their true colors. This has actually proven to be true. A Republican House, Senate and White House have combined to create the most expansionary central government since LBJ. Just as no honest capitalist would see any need to choose between a Stalinist or a Trotskyite candidate, no supporter of small government and individual freedom should feel any pressure to support the lesser of two evils presented by the two major American parties.
It was not pragmatic to oppose a three percent tax on tea, when the net price was actually cheaper. It was principle George Washington and Ron Paul – whose singular principled support for the US Constitution has rendered him so popular as to be politically unassailable – prove that in the end, principle defeats pragmatism every single time.
If the American people have no principles, pragmatism will only slow, slightly, the national decline into full-blown socialism. And if no one offers them a principled alternative, this decline will be inevitable.