A closer look at the Bush record -- from
the war in Iraq to the war on the environment
take the exit ramp off the Bush presidency in November?
Colin Powell's Legend
Colin Powell's sterling reputation in Washington hides his life-long role
as water-carrier for conservative ideologues.
Recounting the controversial presidential campaign
Is the national media a danger to democracy?
The Clinton Scandals
The story behind President Clinton's impeachment
Pinochet & Other Characters
The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics
Contra drug stories uncovered
How the American historical record has been tainted by lies and cover-ups
The October Surprise
The 1980 October Surprise scandal exposed
From free trade to the Kosovo crisis
Other Investigative Stories
Why Conservatives Balk at GOP
William Frey, M.D.
October 26, 2006
George W. Bush frequently states that the U.S. government's highest
duty is to protect the safety of Americans. But many traditional
conservatives -- as well as many other Americans -- disagree with Bush's
priority. They believe that the first responsibility of any President is
to defend the Constitution and its guarantees of individual liberty.
In this guest essay, William Frey, a founder of "Republicans for
Humility," explains why he and other conservative Republicans are upset
with the direction of the Bush administration and the GOP-controlled
Why are Republican conservatives
calling for an end to One Party GOP Rule?
Why are many now discussing the virtues
of divided government?
On what basis do they believe One Party Rule has dishonored
The seven prominent Republican conservatives who contributed to the
Washington Monthly remarkable feature article,
"Time for Us to Go: Conservatives on Why the GOP Should Lose in
2006," did not dwell on contrived wedge issues promoted by
Republican marketing consultants.
They focused, instead, on the neglected limited government ideals on
which the conservative movement was founded:
constitutional restraints on unchecked executive power,
prudent and principled foreign policy.
these conservatives believe today's Republican Party has betrayed these
How has it come about that today's authoritarian, big government GOP has
maintained the language of traditional conservatism even while
mutating into a governing party whose policies produce the opposite?
Principled conservatives now widely recognize that the authoritarian,
fear mongering, Big Brother, big government ideology peddled by GOP
politicians and pseudo-populist radio demagogues is anything but
How has today's GOP come to embrace such an ideology?
To a large measure, GOP success has relied on, not only the nominal
retention, but the conspicuous veneration of the slogans and symbols of
the traditional small-government conservatism the Republican Party has,
in reality, abandoned.
The approach of GOP strategists to cultural conservatives has
been similarly disingenuous: Despite complaints from conservative
Christians that the GOP cynically resurrects highly visible and symbolic
wedge issues on a 2 year cycle rhythmically synchronized with the
campaign cycle, the GOP has, by choosing symbolism over substance on
cultural issues, avoided offending corporate elites who do not share the
religious and social convictions of the GOP's foot soldiers from the
But in contrast to their duplicitous treatment of small government
conservatives, of libertarians, and of conservative Christians, the GOP
has been consistently faithful to one group: For corporate
lobbyists, today's GOP has been ever-willing to compromise both
fiscal and free enterprise principles.
documents how the
Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, which he describes as perhaps
"the worst piece of legislation ever enacted", disproportionately
benefits drug companies and corporations relieved of contractual
obligations, rather than seniors. Remarkably, GOP stipulations
specifically prohibited the Secretary of HHS from negotiating lower drug
While profligately increasing the cost to taxpayers, GOP Congressmen
have, at the behest of drug companies, repeatedly fought against
re-importation of Canadian drugs - free market solution that would lower
prescription drug prices not only for seniors , but for all Americans,
without burden to taxpayers, a concept supported by
candidate George W. Bush.
Principled conservatives are not fooled by such substitution of
Republican corporate welfare for genuine competitive enterprise.
Veteran conservative activist Richard Viguerie, author of
"Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush & Other Big Government
Conservatives Hijacked the Conservative Cause" bluntly
years, congressional Republicans have sold themselves to conservatives
as the continuation of the Reagan revolution. We were told that they
would take on the
Washington special interests -- that they would,
in essence, tear down
and sow the earth with salt to make sure nothing ever grew there again.
"But over time, most of them turned into the sort of unprincipled power
brokers they had ousted in 1994. They lost interest in furthering
conservative ideas, and they turned their attention to getting their
share of the pork. Conservatives did not spend decades going door to
door, staffing phone banks and compiling lists of like-minded voters so
Republican congressmen could have highways named after them and so there
could be an affirmative-action program for Republican lobbyists."
Principled conservatives recognize that
the economic strength of American free enterprise comes from an
environment conducive to entrepreneurial innovation and a thriving
middle class, not in GOP favoritism of stagnant and corrupt corporate
and financial elites at the expense of the middle class.
But today's GOP now poses to
America a threat more fundamental than economic misadventures.
Principled conservatives recognize that authoritarian, big government
"conservatism", even when irreverently wrapped in our flag and mimicking
the language of faith, is alien to America and subversive to our values.
has stood as a beacon of liberty, and our constitution a monument to the
Rule of Law.
But we now witness a governing Republican Party which has adopted a
theory of presidential power - the "unitary executive" theory - that
nullifies Congressional, judicial and constitutional checks on
Almost beyond belief, Republicans historically committed to due process
and to constitutional restraints on federal and presidential power, now:
But unlike today's pseudo-conservative
GOP, true conservatives believe that
America is not too weak to defend herself while maintaining
Unlike today's fear mongering GOP, principled conservatives believe
Americans will surmount fear, and will not allow terrorists to define
and change America.
Unlike the radio "conservatives" who would polarize America and demonize
all but their most sheepish followers as "Democrats, liberals, or
RINO's", principled conservatives now recognize that the core values
which the authoritarian GOP has abandoned (individual liberty, fiscal
responsibility, the rule of law, prudent foreign policy) are more
important than partisan victory.
Fortunately, these values, though essential to true conservatives,
are not exclusive to conservatives.
Our nation's founders did not even consider such values to be
"conservative" at all, but characterized such a philosophy centered on
liberty as, of all things, "liberal".
But whatever name is applied to these quintessentially American values,
it is clear that today's authoritarian GOP has forsaken them.
To the consternation of these Big Government Republicans, the ideals of
individual liberty protected by the rule of law, and prudent fiscal and
foreign policy, are once again serving as a uniting force --- an area
where common ground is being found by thoughtful conservatives,
moderates, and liberals of good will.
Today's Republican politicians have not only repudiated conservative
principles of constitutional restraints on federal and executive power,
but now support policies diametrically opposed to historical Republican
Such GOP reversals on issues of fundamental constitutional principles
abound. On each of these issues, the current GOP position is
disconnected from the convictions of virtually all Republicans on such
issues as recently as 1 decade ago:
And in each case, if true conservatives who honor the rule of law are to
find Congressional allies in their fight against unrestrained
presidential power, it is no longer true that those allies will be on
the Republican side of the aisle.
When the Orwellian named PATRIOT Act was enacted in 2001,
Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey both supported the act AND
fought hard to insert a sunset clause, so that the provisions of the act
would truly, in fact, be temporary.
Armey's conservatism was inseparable from his commitment to civil
liberties. In his
farewell address before he retired as Majority Leader in 2003, Armey
passionately warned of those who would promise security in exchange
But by the time the great majority of the provisions of the PATRIOT Act
were extended - permanently and without sunset - in 2006,
conservative civil libertarians such as
Dick Armey and
Bob Barr had become all but extinct within the GOP.
Similarly, honest fiscal conservatives such as the
Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (who dared to
oppose the pet pork-barrel projects of
fellow GOP politicians) have been driven by the Republican
leadership into early retirement, even as the GOP establishment has
Establishment GOP politicians who have abandoned their
fundamental ideals are now aghast that principled conservative
Republicans are seeking allies among Democrats.
But the principles that are most dear to principled conservatives -
individual liberty protected by the rule of law - transcend
While principled liberals and conservatives have substantial differences
regarding the interpretation and implementation of these principles, the
tragic reality is that a power-drunk big government GOP establishment
now threatens the very constitutional restraints that protect our
liberties, our democracy, and our free and open society.
William Niskanen's work clearly demonstrates that fiscal policy is
consistently more restrained under
divided government than under one party domination.
But it is the actual behavior of Republicans under this era of One Party
Rule that has clearly demonstrated the tangible threat to the Rule of
Law, to individual liberty, and to our constitutional system.
Unlike today's win-at-all-costs GOP, many true conservatives believe
that only a Democratic congressional victory will restore the balanced,
divided, and representative government through which America has long
maintained our values.
And only a Democratic victory will allow the reflection within the
Republican Party necessary for a reorientation to American democratic
Republicans now firmly in control of party machinery, addicted to power,
and committed to a toxic authoritarian ideology they falsely call
"conservative" will not be dislodged without a Democratic victory.
Today's GOP has lost its way.
me, other conflicted conservatives may benefit from reading
"Time for Us to Go: Conservatives on Why the GOP Should Lose in
2006," in the Washington Monthly.
William Frey, M.D.,
who has practiced medicine for 27 years, is a founding member of
Republicans for Humility,
which advocates the return to the unifying American values of humble
foreign policy, constitutional government, and respect for individual
liberties, and stands in opposition to the recent dominance within the
Republican Party of policies favoring unilateral military expansion,
empire, and the accompanying erosion of civil liberties. He is author of
Is George W. Bush a Conservative?
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