G. W. Bush’s Liberal Legacy


By: Matthew A. Roberts

A Republican recently said to me that he no longer supports G. W. Bush, although he previously had voted for him. “He’s turned out to be a liberal just like his daddy,” he said, “and I don’t want a thing to do with him.” This seems to be a common theme echoing throughout the blogosphere, where pundits have realized that ‘compassionate conservative’ really means “liberal in disguise.” Is Bush a liberal? On four out of five key issues, Bush has shown his liberal leanings.

First, nowhere is Bush’s betrayal more evident than with immigration. He refuses to recognize that America historically has not been a “nation of [illegal] immigrants” arriving at an extant welfare state, but rather a nation of settlers and colonists. Like a failed Roman emperor, Bush engages in the unbecoming business of auctioning of citizenship for (unlikely) future loyalty. He sides with Ted Kennedy in pushing a guest-worker program, although a recent Zogby poll shows that 81 percent of Republican voters support an enforcement-only approach. Jettisoning reason, tradition, and loyalty to hard-working Americans, Bush attempts to transform America into a third-world country.

Second, Bush also allies himself with Ted Kennedy on education. Bush’s socialist No Child Left Behind should be named “Great Society, Pt. II.” NCLB has removed authority over education from the states and placed it at the feet of a bloated federal bureaucracy; has expanded the role of certification and the proletarian Schools of Education; has reinforced the notion that education should be universal; and will have a dumbing-down effect unlike any we’ve ever seen. One can easily dismiss this piece of legislation as one of the worst washouts in recent history.

Third, Bush is no friend to prudent economic policy. He has spent more money than the previous six presidents combined, and it will require generations to pay off this debt. Under Newt Gingrich, Republicans came to power claiming a Contract with America, promising to reduce expenditures and return authority to the states. Bush has accomplished the opposite, spending like a liberal and broadening big government. Furthermore, regarding international trade, we now have the largest trade deficit in American history vis-à-vis Mexico, China and India – and the situation grows worse each month. Even former free-trade enthusiasts are indignant that Bush is not buoying more trade barriers.

Fourth, in the domain of foreign policy, Bush also lacks any conservative conviction. His failed Wilsonian foreign policy in the Middle East reeks of liberal interventionism. Real conservatives, from Aristotle to the present, have always acknowledged that different forms of government are better tailored for different traditions. The Procrustean conversion of all countries to liberal democracy is impractical, undesirable, and reminiscent of Robespierre. And the very notion of “regime change” comes from Marxist annals. No true conservative would rally round such recklessness.

Fifth, Bush’s only conservative contribution may be the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court – but it remains to be seen. They could resuscitate the Tenth Amendment, return affairs (like abortion) to the states, and fulfill the noble intent of the Founding Fathers. They, however, could move the other way, and bolster an imperial presidency at the expense of states’ rights, whereby chalking up yet another point to Bush’s liberal legacy.

G.W. Bush has indeed proven to be a liberal just like his father, and the conservative constituency seethes with resentment. Hopefully, Republicans will distance themselves from Bush’s sinking presidency, and wash their hands of Bush’s fellow travelers (Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Arlen Specter, Mike DeWine, Lindsey Graham, et al.). Otherwise, the GOP will remain unredeemed and unelectable.
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(c) 2006 Matthew A. Roberts. Mr. Roberts is a conservative columnist whose articles have appeared in dozens of publications. He also co-edits a weblog at www.conservatoroccidentalis.com

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