[Disclaimer – there are the fuzzy thoughts of a father with a four-day-old child.]
Compassionate conservatism is dead. It died from neglect – Bush’s crust-less Wonder bread domestic agenda (to put it nicely) – and deception – Bush’s claims that much was happening when little was – and most of all from lack of heart – few cared about it as more than a campaign slogan.
How dead is it? It is so dead that none of the top-tier Republican candidates dare utter its name. That makes it pretty darn dead.
What will rise in its place? The way things are headed it looks like slash-and-burn conservatism is the order of the day – the one who promises to cut, attack, and eliminate more things is the truest conservative.
There is another hope – conscience conservatism.
Conscience is simple – there are certain things that are right and others that are wrong. Where “compassion” is a fuzz and uncertain word – what is compassion anyway?
So what is next for the party of Lincoln? Perhaps “conscience conservatism”? “Compassion” is too squishy and amorphous a term. It doesn’t actually mean very much – especially in these days where compassion can mean so many different things. “Conscience” may be the way to go…especially for conservatives. Conscience conservatism could provide a unifying conservative ethos – helping the poor, investing in Africa, fixing our schools (radically where needed), these aren’t matters of compassion; they are matters of conscience. Ok, I need a nap. More later.