Will The Real Conservatives Please Stand Up?

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Monday's Washington Post, GOP factotum Grover Norquist,
who runs an outfit called Americans for Tax Reform, tells the public
what conservatives think, and how they can incrementally achieve
their program.

thing is, real conservatives don't think many of the things Norquist
says, not least of which is that you can change Washington slowly,
by evolution.

have hijacked the word u201Cconservative,u201D and not just when it comes
to domestic policy. Internationalist, interventionist foreign policy
ideas now travel under the conservative label.


Norquist epistle is of a piece with the run of u201Cconservativeu201D thinking.
Don't dismantle big government; take it over.

are five steps to a single-rate tax: Abolish the death tax [and]
… the capital gains tax, expand IRAs … full expensing of business
investment … abolish the alternative minimum tax. Put a single
rate on the new tax base and you have Steve Forbes and Dick Armey’s
flat tax. Each of the Bush tax cuts … moves us toward fundamental
tax reform.u201D

he avers, u201Cwant to move to a flat-rate income tax for both economic
and political reasons.u201D

a flat tax would be better than what we have now, but real conservatives
would abolish the income tax, not flatten it. This would enable
us to dismantle three-quarters of the unconstitutional federal regime.
But Norquist, like most of the conservative Beltway philosophes
these days, doesn't discuss the unconstitutional Leviathan.

again, the Leviathan is only possible because of the income tax,
which is precisely why Norquist's Republican Party can never contemplate
scrapping it. The income tax pays for GOP dreams of u201Cnational greatness.u201D

let's go on: u201CThe Founding Fathers,u201D Historian Norquist writes,
u201Cgerrymandered the Senate for Republican control.u201D

Maybe Norquist has been holed up inside the Beltway so long the
real history of the Republic has been erased from his head, if anyone
ever bothered to pencil it in. The founders did not u201Cgerrymanderu201D
the Senate for the GOP. The Republican Party did not exist in 1787.

conservatives know and love history. They respect it. They study
history and learn from it. The Norquist conservatives don't bother
with it. They mostly study the Washington Times commentary
section and the latest u201Cbackgroundersu201D from The Heritage Foundation.

War Lovers

isn't the only faux conservative out there.

are the boosters of the trumped-up war against Iraq, the one we
fought because Saddam Hussein had u201Cweapons of mass destruction.u201D
American troops, by the way, have not found them.

u201Cconservativesu201D envision America rolling over Iran and Syria, winning
what they call World War IV. They run the Bush Administration, and
compose most of the mob of u201Cconservativeu201D newspaper columnists and
radio big mouths, from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to Charles
Krauthammer and the ubiquitous Bill Kristol.

was, America did not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy;
we were well wishers of liberty everywhere, but defenders only of
our own. Now, Leviathan destroys monsters from Indiana to Iraq,
u201Cimposingu201D liberty along the way.

u201Cconservativesu201D support it.

Us Conservatives?

of us weary of Norquist and his u201Creformistu201D Mafia telling the world,
falsely, what an American conservative is. Maybe it's time to call
ourselves something else, such as Constitutionalists.

maybe not.

and Co. can use the name, but it changes nothing about them, and
nothing about us.

11, 2003

columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail
] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.

Cort Kirkwood Archives


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