Will the Real Conservatives Please Stand Up

The local Republican student group recently put up a series of fliers on campus which reminded me why I’m not a Republican, even though I’m extremely conservative.

These students are probably to the right of most conservatives, bringing in jingoists like Pat Buchanan and supporters of the Japanese internment like Michelle Malkin to speak (as Cathy Young notes, in her bizarre defense of internment and attack on U.S. reparations to its victims, Malkin is repudiating that great left wing activist Ronald Reagan).

But the flier that really drove it home were ones that appeared at the same time as those promoting Malkin’s appearance that included a quote attributed to Barry Goldwater, “A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.”

That made me laugh out loud. Goldwater, of course, ran unsuccessfully against Lyndon Johnson on an anti-big government campaign and lost by a landslide. Johnson went on to continue the huge increase in the size of the federal government.

But where has supporting that latest incarnation of Republicans landed conservatives? According to the American Enterprise Institute, in Bush’s first term, federal spending actually increased faster than it did under Johnson. According to the AEI, for example, Johnson increased federal discretionary spending 33.4 percent from 1965-68. Bush increased discretionary spending 35.1 percent from 2002-05.

Compare that to a conservative president, Ronald Reagan, who launched a massive military build-up to counter the Soviet threat. Reagan only increased discretionary spending 15.3 percent over his two terms. Clinton, the liberal spendthrift, had a net 0.1 percent increase over his two terms.

Please, can Republicans find some real conservatives to run for office? Or are LBJ conservatives all the party has left?


President Reagan, Champion Budget-Cutter. Veronique de Rugy, American Enterprise Institute, June 9, 2004.

How Bush Outspends LBJ. Nick Gillespie, Reason, December 2005.

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