July 11, 2003

Left Turn: Is the GOP conservative?

In a very significant statement, NR editors say conservatives should consider distancing themselves from the GOP establishment:

We have never been under any illusions about the extent of Bush's conservatism. He did not run in 2000 as a small-government conservative, or as someone who relished ideological combat on such issues as racial preferences and immigration. We supported him nonetheless in the hope that he would strengthen our defense posture, appoint originalist judges, liberalize trade, reduce tax rates, reform entitlements, take modest steps toward school choice. Progress on these fronts would be worth backsliding elsewhere. We have been largely impressed with Bush's record on national security, on judicial appointments (although the big test of a Supreme Court vacancy will apparently not occur during this term), and on taxes. On the other issues he has so far been unable to deliver.


Conservatives, finally, have to find ways to work with the Republicans — their fortunes are linked — while also working on them. The Pennsylvania Senate primary offers a choice between a candidate who is conservative on both economics and social issues, Pat Toomey, and one who is conservative on neither, the incumbent, Arlen Specter. The White House and the party establishment has rallied behind Specter. But President Bush's goals would be better served by a Senator Toomey. And as recent events underscore, this is not a bad time for conservatives to declare their independence from the GOP establishment.