I’m not sure that I would agree with him in characterizing all the accomplishments he points to as "conservative" accomplishments, but the most problematical part of his piece is this:
[A] lot of the issues that litter the political battlefield today put conservatives on the defensive. What are we going to do to fix the economy, the housing market, health-care costs and education? Some conservatives try to avoid philosophical confrontation with liberals, often urging solutions that would expand the government while rationalizing that the expansion would be at a slightly slower rate.
This strategy simply has not worked. Conservatives should stay true to their principles and remember:
- Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. There are no short-term fixes without longer term consequences.
- In a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunity but also economic disparity, especially if the country has liberal immigration policies and a high divorce rate.
- An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.
- Free markets, not an expanding and more powerful government, are the solution to today’s problems. Many of these problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the subprime mortgage crisis, were caused in large part by government policies.
"Conservative" policies work particularly well when there’s a healthy civil society, when, in other words, there isn’t a high divorce rate and there aren’t lots of families on the road to worldly perdition (not to speak of the hereafter). Certain things that pass in America for conservative contribute to these problems.
I’m not arguing that the answer is big government, surely not big government of the sort promoted by Senators Obama and Clinton. But if we take our current social conditions for granted, a simple emphasis on the market will surely make them worse.
Update: Our friend RC2 offers a gloss on Thompson that’s better than what he wrote.