Compassionate conservatism? No more true than compassionate liberalism

Compassionate conservatism? No more true than compassionate liberalism

Count me as a Republican who bought into the “compassionate conservatism” lingo back in George Bush’s heyday (or maybe that was a “heyminute” — he didn’t get much love for any prolonged period, did he?). Starry-eyed and ever-hopeful, I believed that conservatives just needed to demonstrate that we were as compassionate as those bleeding heart liberals to the left of us, maybe even more so. After all, if you prick us, do we not bleed?

No Child Left Behind, with its emphasis on the individual child’s needs and school choice seemed to me to be a great policy manifestation of this compassionate conservative approach.

Well, I’ve learned. Oh, I still believe NCLB was decent policy. (Calm down, all you folks who don’t want the federal government up in your local school’s face; it’s already there, so why not use it to enforce accountability and give poor kids a better shot at success?) I’ve just decided that most public policies can’t be labeled compassionate. That’s because the government is a blunt instrument, as we all know. And it usually acts by taking things away from people — money, in the form of taxes, for example, or freedoms, in the form of regulations. The people whose money is taken or freedoms infringed would say the policies at the root of these actions are not compassionate.

Now we are finally witnessing what should be every conservative’s rebuttal to the charge that we’re not compassionate, while lefties are. The Affordable Care Act, the left’s much-celebrated health care reform policy, is a steaming mess of…website errors, insurance cancellations, health network losses, and general large-scale harm to many Americans. And its full impact has yet to be felt. More pain is coming down the pike, unless the president and his allies manage to delay the law out of existence entirely (which is a possibility).

CBS and Reuters are now both reporting the suffering of patients being negatively affected by the ACA. This Hot Air piece summarizes those tales well. And, despite the president’s magic-wand waving to allow people who lost their plans to keep them after all, how many have actually been able to do that? How many insurance companies have been able to say, oh, all right, let’s go ahead and turn the switch back on that huge piece of machinery we just threw a monkey wrench in to?

So, it isn’t that conservatives need to prove how compassionate they are. No, conservatives need to point out, often and vigorously, just how uncompassionate liberals’ policies are, offering as evidence their latest Number One accomplishment: Obamacare.

Social media was filled with sad stories of cancer patients who needed help before ACA, with the implicit and explicit message it was conservatives standing in their way.

It’s time to shame liberals for the ruination they’ve brought on cancer and other seriously ill patients who are now victims of Obamacare’s changes to the health care market.

Is Obamacare what liberals mean by compassion? If so, they have some ‘splaining to do.


Libby Sternberg

Libby Sternberg

Libby Sternberg is an Edgar-nominated novelist whose works include humorous women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and historical fiction. Her political writings have appeared at Hot Air, the Weekly Standard, Insight, the Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor.

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