Sunday, July 25, 2004

The conservative and the compassionate

A surprising quote:
A society of different lifestyles spawned a group of young people who were brought up without parental discipline, without proper role models and without any sense of responsibility to others.... Today, people have had enough of this part of the 1960s consensus. People do not want a return to old prejudices and ugly discrimination. But they do want rules, order and proper behaviour. They want a community where the decent law-abiding majority are in charge.
Tony Blair, the leader of the Labour party, said this last week.

Here are some other interesting quotes.
And I think that's a proper role for the federal government, to help people.
...
We've increased federal funding for K through 12 by 49 percent from 2001.
Those are from Bush's recent speech at the Urban League. Now I'm no libertarian, but I am a federalist, and I know there was a time when Republicans talked about getting rid of the Department of Energy and the Department of Education.

Not long after I found these quotes, I discovered that Jonah Goldberg's latest NRO column is on the same topic. He had found a Bush quote of his own:
[T]he role of government is to stand there and say, 'We're going to help you.' The job of the federal government is to fund the providers who are actually making a difference.
The "providers" are marriage counselors. Goldberg complained about this in The Corner and got an email, from no less than the (Or is it "an"?) assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, saying that
By offering marriage-education services on a purely voluntary basis to interested couples whereby they can develop the knowledge and skills necessary to form and sustain healthy marriages, we will help reduce the need for more intrusive government interventions later on.
Read the whole column for Goldberg's response. The bottom line, as Goldberg correctly puts it, is that "at the end of the day, I would still trade every dollar of creative social policy for a dollar of budget cuts."

Goldberg had more to say on this subject in an older column:
While I still think it would be bad for America if Bush lost the election to Kerry and terrible for Republicans, it's less clear it would be bad for the conservative movement.
...
Last Labor Day [in 2003], George W. Bush told a crowd, "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move."
...
Some conservatives are now claiming that Bush's conservatism isn't about "big government" so much as "strong government." Others are complaining or cheering that conservatism is flying under the flag of religion more than liberty.

But most are simply suspending needed conversations until after the election, because a Republican victory at the polls and/or an American victory in the war on terror take precedence. It's an understandable impulse. I just hope there's enough of the Reagan legacy to build on after the election.

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