Harry Hopkins, an advisor to then-President Franklin Roosevelt, once said the Democrats' plan was to "Spend and spend, tax and tax, elect and elect." This proved to be a winning electoral strategy for the New Dealers for some time.
More recently, Karl Rove has worked to build a lasting Republican majority through "Compassionate Conservatism." Rove's legislative modus operandi has been to increase government spending on popular issues, cut taxes, and ignore the increasing national debt. While President Bush's veto pen gathers dust, Congress has engaged in a spending spree not seen since the Johnson Administration. Their mantra might be summarized as "Spend and spend, debt and debt, elect and elect."
The Compassionate Conservatives had quite a run, winning the 2000 election during a time of relative peace and prosperity, defying political gravity in the 2002 off year elections, and winning the White House again in 2004 under difficult circumstances.
Yesterday, the streak came to an end. Although a complex event with many causes, a fatal flaw in the Rove strategy has been revealed: many Republicans find "big government conservatism" to be an oxymoron. Barry Goldwater might say it's time for the Republican Party to get back to its roots.
Matthew Ladner, Ph.D. is vice president for policy at the Goldwater Institute.