Bi-Partisan Conservatism

A new column by National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg has prompted me to clarify something, at least about myself. Goldberg has pointed out that he is primarily a conservative, which is too-often conflated to mean the same thing as being a Republican. In fact, they are different. It is obvious that to a large degree Republicans and conservatives hold the same view on a wide array of issues. It is safe to say that the Republican party is more amenable to conservative viewpoints than is the Democrat, as the recent retirements of Zell Miller (obvious) and John Breaux (just a guess) indicate.

In my previous post on Karl Rove, I alluded to the difference between the political calculation of a party seeking to build itself by widening its appeal and conservatives seeking to maintain their ideals, regardless of whether or not they garnered widespread political appeal. Goldberg illustrates the dichotomy thus:

By all accounts, Bush and Karl Rove want to seal the Republican party as the majority for a generation. I’m all for it, but that doesn’t mean I’ll like everything the White House does to achieve this. The No Child Left Behind Act was a deliberate attempt to steal education from Democrats as an issue. It was somewhat successful, but that doesn’t mean conservatives should suddenly cheer federal meddling in local education. The expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs was a fiscal train wreck.

The White House has many excellent ideas � tax reform, overhauling Social Security, etc. � that conservatives should get behind. But if the goal is to make the Republican party the majority party by making it the more “reasonable” big-government party, I suspect you won’t find it so easy to confuse conservatives and Republicans in the near future.

Keeping this in mind, while I may sound like a Republican cheerleader at times, I will also try to point out the good, conservative things that Democrat politicians accomplish, too. Therefore, I point you to the success that Democrat Providence Mayor David Cicilline has had in negotiating a more reasonable contract for the city’s municipal workers.

The three-year contract gives some 900 city workers pay raises of 7.5 percent over three years. More important, the workers — who on Oct. 6 strongly endorsed the contract — agreed to pay for 10 percent of their health coverage, as did the pensioners. Perhaps above all, the contract increases the flexibility of departmental managers by eliminating a no-layoff clause and by reducing the red tape involved in reassigning workers.

There is more work to be done with the firefighter and police unions, but Mayor Cicilline has shown that he is willing to fight for the taxpayers. For this I congratulate him.

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