Bush v. Obama: Distinctly Different Philosophies of Government

It’s time to talk about everyone’s favorite president, George W. Bush!

I actually wrote this article back in December and left it with loads of typos (which I’ve corrected here).  However, with the opening of his presidential library, this seems like a prudent time to rehash this.

That and it will actually get an audience without me begging endlessly this time.

Alright, back to the president.

You see, something that bothers me a lot is just how much W is criticized, even four years out from his presidency. 

President Obama still uses him as a scapegoat (despite making the country demonstrably worse in his tenure).  Liberals constantly scream and cry about how Bush was a moron, two-steps away from becoming a tyrant (not sure how that works; idiots generally don’t have the wherewithal to become tyrants).  Some conservatives even (particularly more libertarianish ones) believe he and Obama are equal amounts of bad.

So where does the truth lie?  Was President Bush some horrible, idiot man-child given hell bent on maliciously expanding the government until we became serfs?  Or was he something less than that?

On some level, I am actually inclined to agree with those libertarians who see Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” as bad policy.  His solutions for many problems was bigger [federal] government.  Following the September 11th attacks, the solution was the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security, both of which granted large of amounts of power to the federal government.

However, this does not make Bush comparable to Obama in any way.  Each are governed by a different set of motivations for what they do.  When Bush pushed for the Patriot Act and DHS, he was not doing it in some crazy attempt to massively expand the government or curb our freedoms.  If you believe that was his motivation, you live in some other world entirely.

What he believed is that it was the right thing to do to keep us safe.

Now, that is not to say it was not ill-conceived.  It most certainly was.  In the hands of 43, however, it was relatively benign, designed and used to protect us.  However, what he and others failed to realize is that such power, in the wrong hands, could easily be abused.  Even now, the current administration is using defense bills to try and grant itself power to spy on American citizens.  Not overseas foreign nationals suspected of terror ties, but Americans themselves.  The slippery slope strikes again.

Same goes for any other big government initiative proposed by Bush.  His heart was most certainly in the right place for things like “No Child Left Behind,” the proposed (and passed) solution for the many failing schools around the country.  Like the Patriot Act, it was just as ill-conceived and constitutionally dubious.  These actions do not make him equal to President Obama, however.

President Bush, as far as I can tell, believed the government was capable of doing good things for the people.  It was a tool that could serve the people and better their lives with its reach and power.  President Obama, on the other hand, clearly believes that the government is better and/or smarter than the people; thus it should be doing things it is assumed they cannot, regardless of the people’s actual ability.

To Bush, government was the tool for a solution; it could help the individual improve him or herself.

To Obama, the government is the solution, all the time.  It subsumes the individual in its infinite wisdom and benevolence.

That is the very distinct and stark philosophical difference between Bush and Obama.

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