We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Bush's former speechwriter, Michael Gerson, wrote a piece about the idealistic strain in the Republican Party for Newsweek, which was highlighted by YARGB and Ankle Biting, among others.
I think it's worth reading because the Repub Party is, like any party, a mix of views and philosophies. Furthermore, I think many Repubs are, like me, a mix of contradictory and philosophically inconsistent views, ranging from the radical Libertarian to the socially "progresssive."
Indeed, almost all Republicans these days are "big government Republicans." There's no big movement to eliminate Medicare, is there? It's just a matter of degree.
For me, and for most of us bred-in-the-bone proud Yankees at Maggie's Farm, I think it boils down to something like this: We distrust Federal power. We distrust state power less, and local power even less. We are Federalists partly because it is a bulwark against excessive centralized power, and we lean Libertarian because power, unlike money, truly is a zero-sum game.
We are sympathetic to CS Lewis' statement:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Here's a quote from Gerson:
Campaigning on the size of government in 2008, while opponents talk about health care, education and poverty, will seem, and be, procedural, small-minded, cold and uninspired. The moral stakes are even higher. What does antigovernment conservatism offer to inner-city neighborhoods where violence is common and families are rare? Nothing. What achievement would it contribute to racial healing and the unity of our country? No achievement at all. Anti-government conservatism turns out to be a strange kind of idealism—an idealism that strangles mercy.
But there is another Republican Party—what might be called the party of the governors. It is the party of Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who has improved the educational performance of minority students and responded effectively to natural disasters. It is the party of Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who mandated basic health insurance while giving subsidies to low-income people. Neither of these men embrace big government; both show convincing outrage at wasteful spending. But they have also succeeded in making government work in essential government roles—not a small thing in a post-Katrina world.
The future of the Republican Party depends on which party it wants to be—the party of purity, or the party of the governors. In that decision, Republicans should consider: any political movement that elevates abstract antigovernment ideology above human needs is hardly conservative, and unlikely to win.
There is an "idealism that strangles mercy" - and there is government power that strangles freedom, self-reliance, autonomy, and emotional and spiritual maturity - and thus cripples humankind. I'm not saying I agree with all that Gerson says, but it's well worth the read, here.