It has been said that the best political arrangement when it comes to protecting liberty and constraining the size of government is when no party controls all branches of government. Gridlock is liberty-friendly, on this view. Well, the idea that it is bad for a single party to run the entire shebang does seem to be borne out by the skyrocketing spending going on in the United States under George W. Bush. Bruce Bartlett, a Reaganite Republican of long standing, has written a blistering indictment of Bush’s record on spending.
Bush ran back in 2000 (it already seems a long time ago) as a “compassionate conservative”, and only the most gullible must have ignored the fact that this was codespeak for spending lots of other people’s money. I fear very much that we could get the same outcome if David Cameron ever leads the Tories back to power by promising the same menu as his Labour opponent.
I get the impression – and that is all that it is – that some conservative writers are getting a bit fed up with Bush, and I am not just talking about the cack-handed post-invasion phase in Iraq. On a whole list of bedrock issues for conservatives, such as federalism, free markets, respect for liberty and privacy, this administration has fallen way short. It has not even delivered on Social Security reform in any meaningful way, and the tax code is as hideously complex and full of distortions as ever.