Conservatives are stuck with Bush and the Republicans

No, Bush isn’t really “conservative.” Nor is the rest of contemporary Republicanism. But the people who call themselves “conservatives” and “libertarians” chose Bush and the GOP, and they’re stuck with them.

Shorter Kevin Drum:

The Bush-led Republican Party is the bed conservatives made, and now they have to lie in it.

Absolutely right. It’s called “accountability.” Or as an old senator once said, “Politicians are like checks; if you can’t get satisfaction from the maker, you go after the endorser.” No conservative who supported Bush’s re-election has any standing to complain that Bushism isn’t “really conservatism.”

Related thoughts here. Yes, it’s true that if conservatism means what Burke and Oakeshott preached &#8212 a tendency toward caution and respect for tradition &#8212 or what Hayek preached &#8212 a distrust of centralized decision-making in a world of distributed information &#8212 then Bushism is indeed not “conservative.” But then neither is contemporary American “conservatism.” It is in various degrees and combinations plutocratic, imperialist, authoritarian, libertarian, theocratic, racist, nativist, and obscurantist, but no part of it has any respect for what Oakeshott called “the balance of things.” The older I get, the more I respect the thought of Burke, Oakeshott, and Hayek, and the more I despise the contemporary right.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: