Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) slaps his party on the back of the head and tells them to wake up.

As congressional Republicans contemplate the prospect of an electoral disaster this November, much is being written about the supposed soul-searching in the Republican Party. A more accurate description of our state is paralysis and denial.

Many Republicans are waiting for a consultant or party elder to come down from the mountain and, in Moses-like fashion, deliver an agenda and talking points on stone tablets. But the burning bush, so to speak, is delivering a blindingly simple message: Behave like Republicans.

Unfortunately, too many in our party are not yet ready to return to the path of limited government. Instead, we are being told our message must be deficient because, after all, we should be winning in certain areas just by being Republicans. Yet being a Republican isn’t good enough anymore. Voters are tired of buying a GOP package and finding a big-government liberal agenda inside. What we need is not new advertising, but truth in advertising.

Becoming Republicans again will require us to come to grips with what has ailed our party – namely, the triumph of big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like the K Street Project and "compassionate conservatism." If the goal of the K Street Project was to earmark and fund raise our way to a filibuster-proof "governing" majority, the goal of "compassionate conservatism" was to spend our way to a governing majority.

Indeed, Republicans, with control of the purse strings to incredible riches that is the constant lure in a centralized government as huge as ours, turned into the very things they criticized; spendthrifts.  In doing so, they further exemplified one of the major problems with government trying to "do something".  Each party essentially winds up promising money for votes.  A smaller central government, not nearly as flush with cash, would be required to stick more closely to its constitutional boundaries.  Instead, regardless of the party, government has, in recent administrations, decided that it knows better how to be "compassionate".

But, as Senator Coburn notes, it’s not "compassion".

Compassionate conservatism’s starting point had merit. The essential argument that Republicans should orient policy around how our ideas will affect the poor, the widow, the orphan, the forgotten and the "other" is indisputable – particularly for those who claim, as I do, to submit to an authority higher than government. Yet conservatives are conservatives because our policies promote deliverance from poverty rather than dependence on government.

Compassionate conservatism’s next step – its implicit claim that charity or compassion translates into a particular style of activist government involving massive spending increases and entitlement expansion – was its undoing. Common sense and the Scriptures show that true giving and compassion require sacrifice by the giver. This is why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, not his neighbor’s possessions. Spending other people’s money is not compassionate.

Precisely.  Read the whole thing, especially if you’re a Republican.

[tags]Senator Tom Coburn,Republicans,compassionate conservatism,K Street Project,small government[/tags]

Filed under: DougEconomics & TaxesGovernmentPoliticsRepublicans

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