Reihan Salam on Jeb Bush’s recent speech and the true nature of the challenges we face today:
Compassionate conservatism, the rallying cry of George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, rested on the premise that while working- and middle-class Americans were in fine shape, inner-city youth, less-skilled immigrants, and other people living on the margins of society needed the help of faith-based initiatives funded by Uncle Sam. During the prosperous late 1990s, when compassionate conservatism first came into being, this vision might have seemed somewhat plausible. Yet even then it should have been clear that there were far bigger problems on the horizon. The basics of a middle-class life (a paycheck that grows a bit from year to year, medical insurance you can rely on, an affordable education for your kids) were already starting to slip away for tens of millions of Americans, not just for the unfortunates deserving of our compassion. Reformocons believe that fixing what’s wrong with the American economy will take more than just tinkering around the edges.