In a farewell statement, President George W. Bush faced his critics with the claim: "I did not compromise my soul to be a popular guy." Like most of his fellow Americans, the 43rd president of the United States favored (at least in words) free market capitalism. Once in office, he acted consistently with the principles of true liberalism by lowering taxes. Joe the Plumber rejoiced that he would soon have the government off his back. The next step was to cut spending.
Alas, just like most people, President Bush made no effort to understand the universal nature of the principles he professed. His compassionate heart took control during several crucial executive decisions. During his tenure, government involvement in our lives exploded in both scale and scope. And he cannot blame it all on 9/11 and the financial crisis. Between the PATRIOT Act and the bailouts, much of this expansion came from funding numerous politicians' pet projects and from fruitless redistribution of resources in health care, education, and welfare.
Bush had courage, passion, and perseverance to take the War on Terror from Manhattan and D.C. to the homes of the terrorists. Under his leadership, American soldiers gave the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq some of the necessary conditions to enjoy more freedom than ever before. Yet he leaves office with very few fans even within his own party. The fact that domestically he compromised fundamental principles under political and economic pressure may have something to do with it.
It is too early to judge the results of the presidency of George W. Bush. His soul may be safe and his heart in the right place, but he lacked the wisdom to stand for the freedoms of his own people. He won many battles against political opponents and foreign enemies, but he lost the biggest battle of all-the battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation of leaders.
The good news is that the battle of ideas never ends. My great Defense against the Dark Arts teacher Milton Friedman once said, "Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it." It is time for the Sovereign, the People, to wake up and put pressure on the servants, the government, to do their job of securing our unalienable rights.