Here’s an idea: Try prac­tic­ing con­ser­vatism

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Enough al­ready of the hand-wring­ing and night sweats about the demise of the con­ser­va­tive move­ment! Con­ser­va­tives aren’t chal­lenged be­cause of the ba­sic prin­ci­ples that de­fine us, but by the fail­ure of the prin­ci­ples be­ing trans­lated into pol­icy and prac­tice.

Ghandi once said, “If Chris­tians would re­ally live ac­cord­ing to the teach­ings of Christ, as found in the Bi­ble, all of In­dia would be Chris­tian to­day.”

I would be so brazen to say that if con­ser­va­tives would re­ally live ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­ples of clas­sic con­ser­vatism, all of Amer­ica would be con­ser­va­tive to­day.

The cri­sis is not one over the pre­cepts, but the prac­tice. It’s not that we’ve failed in our doc­trine, but our “do­ing.”

Con­ser­va­tives be­lieve that the best gov­ern­ment is the most lo­cal gov­ern­ment pos­si­ble and that the 10th Amend­ment means some­thing and should be fol­lowed. Yet, the sup­pos­edly con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can Party has been a drum ma­jor for the ex­panded role of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Our founders feared a highly cen­tral­ized and en­dowed fed­eral gov­ern­ment, in­stead pre­fer­ring a sys­tem of strong and vir­tu­ally in­de­pen­dent states so that no one per­son, party, or power bro­ker would ex­er­cise a great deal of con­trol.

The in­her­ent dan­ger of al- low­ing too much power in the hands of the few was the heart of the ma­jor dis­pute be­tween Thomas Jef­fer­son and Alexan­der Hamil­ton. Jef­fer­son won, be­liev­ing that the dis­pers­ing of power among the states would by de­sign keep the fed­eral gov­ern­ment from be­com­ing too con­sum­ing and pow­er­ful in its ap­proach to gov­ern­ing. The ge­nius of the 10th Amend­ment, as is true of all of the Bill of Rights, was that it de­lib­er­ately lim­ited what the gov­ern­ment could do — not what the in­di­vid­ual could do. er­nor, a con­stant bat­tle raged with my own fed­eral gov­ern­ment over such pro­grams as “Real I. D.,” which was a fed­er­ally con­ceived idea to force states to spend hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to re-for­mat the look of a state-is­sued driv­ers li­cense so it would be­come the equiv­a­lent of a fed­eral ID card.

Of course, no mem­ber of Congress wanted to come out and ad­vo­cate an ac­tual fed­eral ID card, so forc­ing the states to make the driver’s li­cense the sub­sti­tute seemed bril­liant to Wash­ing­ton.

What they didn’t re­ally think choice front line of de­fense to catch a po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist by dis­cov­er­ing their true iden­tity.

Ditto that for re­form­ing the Med­i­caid pro­gram.

For­mer Vir­ginia Gov. Mark Warner — now Sen. Warner — and I spent many frus­trat­ing days on Capi­tol Hill try­ing to con­vince House and Se­nate mem­bers that the Med­i­caid pro­gram was out of con­trol, fi­nan­cially un­sus­tain­able, and needed flex­i­bil­ity at the state level. Thanks pri­mar­ily to Con­gress­men Joe L. Bar­ton of Texas and Nathan Deal of Ge­or­gia, we fi- has no busi­ness do­ing — pick­ing out win­ners and losers in the pri­vate sec­tor mar­ket­place.

It was es­pe­cially dis­gust­ing to me to watch some of the very leaders who had smugly dis­missed my can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent be­cause I had the au­dac­ity to speak out against the ex­cesses of Wall Street and Wash­ing­ton as early as Fe­bru­ary 2007 now stand up and flop-sweat as they ex­plained why they were about to sup­port the gov­ern­ment tak­ing off the striped shirts of the ref­eree and put on the jer­sey of a team to play the game for one team against an­other all in the name of “sav­ing the mar­kets.”

By aban­don­ing our bedrock con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples, and those of our found­ing fathers, they risked ru­in­ing our coun­try to save the mar­kets.

What gives me hope is my be­lief that the party of Rea­gan will re­unite be­hind the con­sis­tent con­ser­va­tive poli­cies that have made our coun­try great — poli­cies that em­power in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, and en­trepreneurs, not gov­ern­ment, to shape our own des­tinies. If we do that, we will not fail.

We don’t need so much to rede­fine con­ser­vatism. Just prac­tice the real thing.

Mike Huck­abee is the for­mer gov­er­nor of Arkansas and sought the 2008 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. He is a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times’ “Rein­vent­ing Con­ser­vatism“ se­ries.

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