George W. Bush is no conservative, and his unprincipled abandonment of conservatism under the pressure of events is no statesmanship. The Republic would be well-served by his defeat this November.
American conservatives seek what Lord Acton called the highest political good: to secure liberty, which is the freedom to obey one's own will and conscience rather than the will and conscience of others. Any government, of any political shade, that erodes personal liberty in the name of social and economic progress must face a conservative's reasoned dissent, for allowing one to choose between right and wrong, between wisdom and foolishness, is the essential condition of human progress. Although sometimes the State has a duty to impose restrictions, such curbs on the liberty of the individual are analogous to a brace, crutch or bandage: However necessary in the moment, as they tend to weaken and to cramp, they are best removed as soon as possible. Thus American conservative politics championed private property, an institution sacred in itself and vital to the well-being of society. It favored limited government, balanced budgets, fiscal prudence and avoidance of foreign entanglements.
But the policies of this administration self-labeled "conservative" have little to do with the essence of tradition. Rather, they tend to centralize power in the hands of the government under the guise of patriotism. If nothing else, the Bush administration has thrown into question what being a conservative in America actually means.
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