The GOP has been hijacked, according to Tom Pauken. “What passes for conservatism in the post-Reagan era of Republican politics is barely recognizable to many of us who were grassroots activists in the early days of the conservative movement,” he writes in Bringing American Home. As a result, many people are confused about what conservatism really is, “especially after eight years of a Republican administration headed up by George W. Bush.”
The straight shooting Texan aims to clear up the confusion. The primary culprits are the self-serving pragmatists and “neocons” who infiltrated both the party and the intellectual organs that represent conservatism to the public. One such “Machiavellian pragmatist” is Karl Rove, who oversaw much of the younger Bush’s domestic policy. “From Karl’s perspective, there was nothing wrong with big government now that he and his cronies were in power,” declares Pauken. Conservative principles of limited government, federalism and limited spending fell by the wayside, as Bush the second doubled the size of the Department of Education and initiated the first expansion of entitlements (Medicare prescription aid) since the Johnson presidency in the 1960s.
Those primarily responsible for George W. Bush’s disastrous foreign policy were the neo conservatives. First generation neocons, Pauken explains, were former left-wing Democrats who broke ranks with their party over the Vietnam War. Still, their underlying philosophical commitments retained the collectivist, utopian tendencies of liberals.
Pauken also draws attention to our “coarsened” American culture where everything but God is permitted, and bemoans “how completely the concept of good and evil has been replaced by political correctness.” In the early days of the republic, he maintains, even atheists recognized the tremendous freedoms and “bountiful opportunities” available to them in America were a direct result of her fundamental Christian principles.
It’s not too late though, says the veteran of the Nixon and Reagan administrations, if we will return to classic conservative principles, including tax policy changes that will rebuild the manufacturing sector, and along with it, the middle class. He also proposes strategies for educational reform, a return to constitutional principles, and addressing the threat of militant Islam. If we are to avoid the fate of the Roman Empire, says the author, we must “face facts, ground our action in reality, and set ourselves to work to rebuild our society.”