In the winter 2014 issue of National Affairs, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner – two former speechwriters and advisers to Bush – propose “A Conservative Vision of Government,” in which they advance many of the arguments that were used 15 years ago to sideline small-government conservatives and lay the groundwork for the Bush-era spending binge.
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Gerson and Wehner are concerned about the libertarian lurch among Republicans. Not only is this “anti-government” trend unproductive and politically suicidal, they argue, but it contradicts the vision of the nation’s founders, whose principles Tea Party leaders argue they’re out to uphold.
The U.S. Constitution, Gerson and Wehner argue, was not a “purely limiting document,” but a framework for allowing government to take positive actions.
Though it’s true that the Constitution gave power to a federal government that did not exist previously, this amounts to attacking a straw man, as limited government conservatives are not arguing for a return to the Articles of Confederation. They just wish Congress would act within the powers granted to it by the states through the Constitution, and check back with the states if federal lawmakers want to claim more powers through amendment.