Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Michael Gerson, Christian Socialist?

Here’s an attempt to portray Michael Gerson’s version of compassionate conservatism as a kind of European-style Christian Socialism. I briefly discussed the essay at which this commentator took umbrage here.

My own response to this critique is, first, that Gerson was somewhat sloppy in the Newsweek essay and, second, that many of the elements of the "ownership society" amount to government efforts to empower individuals and revive civil society where it’s moribund. Gerson’s ultimately not a paternalist or nanny state advocate. Where he might disagree with his critics is over what role, if any, government has in resurrecting individual self-reliance. In this connection, I note that the author of the aforementioned piece mentioned education vouchers. Don’t voucher involve government spending, not to mention at least a little government regulation? And haven’t Gerson, his former boss, and his former boss’ brother been advocates of vouchers?

Discussions - 1 Comment

"Gerson’s ultimately not a paternalist or nanny state advocate. Where he might disagree with his critics is over what role, if any, government has in resurrecting individual self-reliance."

Certainly many of the actions taken by the Bush Administration (NCLB, drugs for seniors etc.) are clearly a slap at Reaganism. Tax cuts, as clearly demonstrated time and time again, increase government coffers, and thereby empower Big Government to find more ways to play nanny. I would argue that embracing "compassionate conservatism" has cost Bush and the GOP dearly, and has ultimately served to undermine the primary role of government as defender of our freedoms (against invasion and terrorists).

With the Democrats embrace of Come home, America McGovernism and the GOPs embrace of the Great Society, it is a wretched impasse America has reached at the dawn of this new century. Don’t get me wrong, I would vote for Bush all over again, arguing that an aggressive foreign policy far outstrips any harm a NCLB can inflict upon our country. But there are the John Mosers out there, and Bush has lost them for the sake of a phoney attempt to play ball with the entrenched nanny state.

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