Hint: They’re not in power and it’s not Republicans or Democrats. Kevin Tuma dissects the definition and how it applies in today’s world with his excellent essay What is a Conservative?
Bush is a happy socialist who has yet to veto a single spending bill. He has maintained a massive post-Clinton bureaucracy without even giving lip service to reducing the size and scope of federal government. Bush has greatly expanded the government’s role in our lives. He has thrown tidal waves of money at education, medicare, and farm subsidies. He has monstrously inflated the government’s police powers, in complete contravention to the Bill of Rights. He has racked up the biggest deficit in American history. A small tax cut or two, perched decoratively atop a towering mountain of free spending and federal expansionism, does not make the mountain into a conservative one.
Even John Kerry, a Massachusetts liberal ideologue, figured out that Bush isn’t a conservative. People often allude to the fact that Bush and Kerry were both members of the conspiratorial fraternal organization “Skull & Bones”. Skull & Bones is trivia. Of much greater importance to us is the fact that the two candidates had no real ideological differences. The bitterly fought race for the White House in 2004 was a contest between two liberal socialists with minor variations in their personal rhetoric.
By his definitions, the only people who are true conservatives these days would be sporting the title “libertarian,” and indeed Ron Paul’s name pops up as a prominant example of a true conservative. I still think Paul would make an excellent Libertarian Party choice for president, and would gladly vote for him if he ran as a Republican.
Small caveat: I nitpick at his use of the term isolationism: “The second necessary ingredient for a conservative is a belief in national sovereignty and isolationism.” I think the term non-interventialism is more appropriate, as a true conservative does not want to isolate themselves from foreign economies, but does not wish to poke their nose into sovereign nation’s business (alliances, “aid,” posting of military personnel, etc). Though non-interventionalism has it’s pitfalls (the rise of Nazi Germany), if it can be heeded as a primary foreign policy, it should.