Remember when “conservatives” believed in small government?

Yahoo! News reports “Obama courts conservatives with new program”:

Taking a page from President Bush, Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday he wants to expand White House efforts to steer social service dollars to religious groups, risking protests in his own party with his latest aggressive reach for voters who usually vote Republican.

I recall coming across a speech by Scalia (incredibly erudite, doubtless; troublesome, nonetheless) in which the justice exhorted conservatives to embrace a Hamiltonian big-government conservatism; for every point about which I agree with the esteemed magistrate, a matter arises regarding which he and I (granted, far less intelligent than he) find ourselves holding differing opinions. (I seem to conceive of civil liberties more broadly than he.) Our perspectives on conservatism, it seems, mark one place of such disagreement.

Now, no thorough, quotable scholar, wish as I may, of the Fathers, I, nevertheless, recognize that the Federalists played an influential role in developing what eventually would emerge as American conservatism; so, too, however, did the Anti-Federalists and Jeffersonians. In fact, assertions of a “Jeffersonians became libertarians, and Federalists, conservatives” nature and Jefferson’s own profoundly radical liberalism (classical) notwithstanding, I believe that the Anti-Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, with their distrust of centralization, espousal of a small-is-beautiful philosophy, and opposition to “entangling alliances” (with concomitant opposition to a standing military actually provide a much more appropriate, legitimate inspiration for conservatism (libertarianism, too, save for the willingness of libertarians, all too often, to embrace a big-is-beautiful perspective, so long as government intervention, as it frequently does, hasn’t aided corporations in their gaining increased power and control) than does Hamiltonian Federalism, so much so that, I believe, Scalia was in the wrong even to suggest that Hamilton offers a model for conservatism, rather than some sort of right-wing statism (which, I’ve come to believe, is the political ideology that Scalia embraces).

If Scalia is wrong, then, George W. Bush, too, surely is wrong — dead wrong — with his “compassionate conservatism”. Time was, conservatives sought to protect our rights, our liberties, and our beliefs from government, to work toward improving our society, toward aiding those in need, through voluntary and non-coercive means, rather than through the Leviathan, the same monster whose policies, as I note about, include, say, subsidizing, often astronomically, national chains who alter permanently our communities, hardly a conservative ideal.

Now, if Dubya is wrong on this one, then, as he so often is, Senator Obama is. Granted, he’s no conservative, not by any stretch. (He’s a poorly educated Wilsonian on foreign policy who offers no change, choruses notwithstanding, with respect to how we shall present ourselves on the world front. Just ask AIPAC or the Pakistanis. On domestic policy, he’s, quite ostensibly, far to the left socially, not very good on civil liberties, and not interested in undoing the damages of NAFTA and similar abominations. Yikes.) He is, however, quite undeniably, political savvy, cognizant of the great duping Bush & co. played on so many Americans, convincing them that trusting the Federal government with more power and more money could possibly be a good idea — and something behind which conservatives can stand, and using this as a means by which to attempt to lure the many of use wholly dissatisfied with the GOP’s nominee. I hope that, after the USA PATRIOT Act, endless war, and a wretchedly bloated budget, American conservatives will realize that their leaders have led them astray and that Obama seeks to do little more than to continue these policies. Furthermore, I hope that American progressives recognize that the Cult of Obama will, eventually, ask them to drink the Kool-Aid of continued involvement abroad and persistent violation of our sacred liberties at home. I remain pessimistic on both counts.

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