Jeb Bush's compassionate conservatism is a loser

No matter how many smart ideas conservatives have, contemporary American politics, at its core, is an argument about small government vs. big government and tax cuts vs. spending increases. It is this tension that animates large swaths of voters. How politicians approach these issues matter. It’s vital to offer fresh ideas to entice people to vote for your party. It’s important to come up with policies that help government run more efficiently. Presidential elections are, in large part, national referendums on a broader philosophical question regarding government’s role in our lives. Can anyone who believes in limited government trust Jeb Bush to make this argument in a compelling way?

It’s one speech. Perhaps Bush is the best candidate to bring the reformicon message to masses. You can defend his candidacy on the grounds that—unlike many of the other names being thrown around—he’s actually implemented statewide reforms on education and taxes. Mostly, his big speech will likely substantiate many of the misgivings conservatives already have about him.

“The challenge,” Bush says, “is how do we move to a 21st century government to deal with 21st century opportunities and challenges?” I think the challenge is getting past the platitudes of the late twentieth century. But that’s just me.

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