Conservatives Are Killing Conservatism

It’s no secret that conservatism continues to fail, and that conservative candidates for President are uninspiring and disappointing. Further proof lies in the words of one of its strongest proponents, conservative David Frum, special advisor to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002. He was considered one of Bush’s more principled and ideological allies.

Frum recently wrote this about the Tea Party: ” As I look back at the weeks of rancor leading up to ‘[the] budget deal, I see some things I don’t believe in: [The Tea Party is] forcing the United States to the verge of default . Just like the liberals and the socialists, the faux-conservative Frum blames the victims of reckless government spending: Anybody who produces. Every penny of tax money comes from people who produce in the private sector. Every penny of borrowed money comes from people in the private sector (some of them yet to be born) who will produce in the future.

As a conservative, Frum should know this. Instead, he ignores it and blames the economic crisis on the people — the Tea Party — who are trying to curb the reckless spending and injustice of both parties. Frum goes on to admit that spiraling debt is indeed worrisome, but it’s not as great a concern as unemployment and the lack of growth in the economy.

OK, he’s right that cutting the deficit is not a sufficient condition for economic growth, but it is a necessary condition, not only because debt is bad, but because our way-too-big government is doing way too much.

Whether government is operating with a balanced budget, with a surplus or with a massive debt, the effects of its intervention in the economy are all equally toxic. Government is doing damage to the economy regardless of the budget situation. In fact, that’s the biggest rationale for cutting government spending: To curb the power of government. The balancing of the budget is a side benefit. Many in the Tea Party do seem to get this, but career conservatives such as David Frum do not.

Frum goes on, just like Obama and the liberals, to argue against tax cuts and to in fact close tax loopholes. Of course, what is a tax loophole? It’s a legal opportunity to not pay taxes. To ‘close’ a tax loophole is nothing more than a tax increase. Like liberals, conservative-in-name-only David Frum doesn’t have the intellectual honesty to admit he’s calling for tax increases. Tax loopholes allow the private sector to invest, save or spend as it sees fit, and are responsible for making the economy a little less anemic than it already is. Of course, more generalized tax cuts would be even more helpful, but conservatives are no longer even calling for those, aside from when they’re begging for votes, and Frum actually opposes them.

What happened to the tax-cutting party of Reagan? It’s tempting to say that conservatism has lost its way. But conservatism never knew where it was going in the first place. Ronald Reagan’s presidency was a brief period where the rate of government spending increases went down, regulation was eased on the private sector, and taxes were reduced. It was powerful medicine for a weak economy, but its effect was not long-term. Big Government was only mildly and temporarily defanged. It has since grown bigger and more powerful than ever. Both Bushes, Bill Clinton and, most of all, Obama, have grown the government to an epic size that nobody even dreamed of in the ’70s or ’80s. The bigger government gets, the more damage it does to the private sector, and the more government uses its power and influence to blame’you guessed it, the private sector.

Now it appears the conservatives are joining the same blame game as the liberals. It’s important to understand that this hypocrisy and injustice is coming from both Democrats and Republicans. David Frum is considered to be on the ideological, economically conservative ‘right’ of his party. So what does this say about career Republicans?

There’s a popular acronym right now known as RINO, which refers to ‘Republicans in Name Only,’ but even that doesn’t get to the root of the problem. It assumes that Republicans really do stand for something, and that a minority of Republicans stray from their principles. But there are no longer any Republican Party principles from which to stray.

That’s why the front-runner for the nomination right now is Mitt Romney, posing as something different from Obama in order to get the nomination. If Romney wins the presidency, he wouldn’t even employ David Frum in his White House, as Frum would be too conservative for him. If someone more conservative wins the presidency, he or she probably would put David Frum in the White House. And what would it matter?

America doesn’t need a third party; it needs a second party. And the second party has to stand for capitalism, limited government, and individual rights. Its call to arms must be (borrowing from Ayn Rand), separation of economics and state just as we have separation of church and state. In the same way, and for the same reasons.

Nothing like this is on the horizon. But that’s the only hope for the future.