Compassionate Conservatism, RIP
Over two years ago, I wrote the words below as part of long piece titled, "The Opt Out Society: The GOP Threat to National Unity and the American Social Contract."
Now, two years later, with New Orleans in ruins, hundreds dead and thousands more at risk, we see the willful neglect of the Bush administration and the morally bankrupt conservative public philosophy behind it in the clear light of day.
Theirs is the Opt Out Society indeed. And in it, you are on your own:
It is American national unity itself that is under attack by the GOP during a time of war. The American people, standing shoulder to shoulder against foreign foes, are being divided and splintered by a Republican public philosophy of market worship, the privatization or abandonment of traditional government roles and services, and a radical individualism. The Bush philosophy represents an all-out assault on common national purpose in the United States. Government not only can't solve problems, it has no moral claim on its citizens' participation in a shared national effort to try. At the end of the day, you're on your own in a Hobbesian struggle of each against all; the government's role is to stand aside and let you fight it out.
This Republican program seeks to undermine the traditional American social contract and create what can be called an "Opt Out Society." That is, the GOP will abrogate the unwritten agreements that have defined the national bargain for three generations, such as hard work in exchange for social mobility, commitment to public institutions in exchange for growing personal freedoms, and those disproportionately benefiting from the American system disproportionately contributing to its maintenance. Instead, conservatives push to privatize social services like education, health care, and retirement, while rewarding Americans for withdrawing their support from their country, their government, their communities, their schools - and each other.
Compassionate Conservatism, RIP.