I ran across the following essay by New Gingrich in the February 11, 2009 issue of The Washington Times. It offers a very succinct yet practical -- and in my opinion, except for a lack of mention of the social issues, a very correct view -- of Where Does the Conservative Movement Go from here?
His advise basically is summed up in three steps he outlines:
1. Advocate first principles with courage, clarity, persistence and cheerfulness.
2. Insist on developing solutions based on those principles and insist on measuring other proposals against those principles.
3. Be prepared to oppose Republicans when they are wrong and side with Democrats when they are right, but always make the decision to support or oppose a matter of first principles and the application of those principles.
In all, I think he is quite correct.
But what I personally find most refreshing is that Gingrich -- quite correctly, in my opinion -- links the current Obama Administration with the previous Bush Administration.
The Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system continues to grow and to place the country in greater and greater danger from inflation, bureaucratic control of the economy, political interference in every aspect of our lives and massive debt.
The first job of the conservative movement is simply to tell the truth about how bad these Bush-Obama proposals are. The 2008 $180 billion stimulus program in the spring failed. The 2008 summer $345 billion housing bailout failed. The 2008 fall $700 billion Wall Street bailout failed. That was the first $1.2 trillion, and it was on former President George W. Bush's watch, but all three passed with then Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s "yes" vote.
Now President Obama represents continuity rather than change. The new spending bill (as the president called it in his Williamsburg speech last week) is more of the Bush-Obama continuity and represents more of the same instead of "change you can believe in."
Notice how many times Gingrich writes "Bush-Obama"?
And in all of this, I think Newt Gingrich is absolutely correct: as Michelle Malkin has said, "George W. Bush 'pre-socialized' America for Obama." Furthermore, I think Newt Gingrich is right to emphasize that the fact that George W. Bush was not a conservative. "Compassionate conservatism" is just another name for "big government liberalism" and as we -- conservatives as well as all Americans -- should have known, "big government liberalism" fails.
And yes, in many ways, George W. Bush was a failure. A liberal and a failure (but I repeat myself). Personally, I do not think conservatism can move on until it admits that. For until conservatives do, the general American population is perfectly justified in thinking that the failures of the supposedly Bush Administration are the failures of conservatism. They are not and we conservatives should and must be bold and honest enough to say so!
Conservatism has not failed. Conservatives have failed because we (with but few exceptions) have allowed ourselves to be identified with and defined by the failed liberal policies of the Republicans!