NeoCons Living Hand to Mouth
The thrust of Busch's peeve is that we no longer attempt to educate the populace about the virtues of limited government, that we are instead merely trying to buy votes by appeasing one group or another. For long-term success we need to be teaching the principle that limited government creates a happier and wealthier society for all. It took two decades for Barry Goldwater's message to reach the voters in the form of a Reagan presidency. Compassionate conservatism is short-sighted.
It is notable that hardly anyone has promoted compassionate conservatism as the best available policy. Hardly any of its advocates have attempted to demonstrate that limited government, from the standpoint of good policy, is no longer a preferable option. Yet the starting point of policy should always be the question of what is best for the country. Indeed, Republicans have long maintained that good policy will ultimately be good politics, even if in the short term it is not always so. Translating that precept into the terms of the current controversy, if Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Barry Goldwater, and Reagan (not to mention the framers of the Constitution) have been invalidated--if the laws of economics and the laws of human nature have changed so that centralized state power no longer threatens prosperity, liberty, or civic virtue--then by all means, the argument for limited government should be allowed to slide into disuse. If not, Republicans must find a way to make the argument for limited government more compelling.