Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner - now Sen. Warner - and I spent many frustrating days on Capitol Hill trying to convince House and Senate members that the Medicaid program was out of control, financially unsustainable, and needed flexibility at the state level. Thanks primarily to Congressmen Joe L. Barton of Texas and Nathan Deal of Georgia, we finally were able to convince Congress that some of the decisions for the program could be made better if made closer to the people being served.
Perhaps no other example is more glaring than having painfully watched so-called Washington conservatives abandon the most fundamental principle of conservatism - fiscal restraint. A Republican administration pushed for and got the authority to spend $700 billion that we had to borrow from our grandchildren’s future so we could do what government has no business doing - picking out winners and losers in the private sector marketplace.
It was especially disgusting to me to watch some of the very leaders who had smugly dismissed my candidacy for president because I had the audacity to speak out against the excesses of Wall Street and Washington as early as February 2007 now stand up and flop-sweat as they explained why they were about to support the government taking off the striped shirts of the referee and put on the jersey of a team to play the game for one team against another all in the name of “saving the markets.”
By abandoning our bedrock conservative principles, and those of our founding fathers, they risked ruining our country to save the markets.
What gives me hope is my belief that the party of Reagan will reunite behind the consistent conservative policies that have made our country great - policies that empower individuals, families, and entrepreneurs, not government, to shape our own destinies. If we do that, we will not fail.
We don’t need so much to redefine conservatism. Just practice the real thing.
• Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and sought the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. He is a columnist for The Washington Times’ “Reinventing Conservatism” series.
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