It probably wouldn't surprise you at all to know that I spend a lot of time debating with people online about politics. One thing that inevitably comes up when I espouse Conservatism is the recent failures of Republicans. Unfortunately for the country, those failures were perpetrated by Republicans who weren't governing as Conservatives, which is something I often point out.
Regardless of how he ran in 2000, in many instances, George W. Bush did not govern as a Conservative. He created a new prescription drug entitlement, increased the government's role in education, and added a new cabinet position. The rest of his party signed off on it. In short, in the 2000s, the Republican spent like Democrats, and did not govern as Conservatives. They governed as "moderates" and in many cases as Liberals.
For the record, that's why I think the GOP lost in 2006 and 2008. The way the Republicans have acted in the last decade remind me a lot of the phenomenon of New Coke. For those who do not familiar, New Coke was a reformulation of the classic Coca-Cola formula in 1985 that was sweeter and, quite frankly, tasted more like Pepsi. Consumers widely rejected it, deciding "rather than drink a Pepsi knockoff, I might as well drink a Pepsi." After a few years, Coke bagged the new formula and brought back the old, repackaging it as Coca-Cola Classic. Coke has lead the cola wars since the return of the classic formula.
Republicans have done similarly in being similar to Democrats rather than being the Conservatives that won them elections to begin with. Voters decided, "the heck with it, might as well get a full blown Democrat." But in 2010, when the Republicans ran as Conservatives, abracadabra, we won! We went to being Coca-Cola Classic, if you will, and that won.
So why am I a Conservative? I'm a Conservative because I believe in freedom. I believe that government exists to stop other people from taking away my life, liberty, and property...that's about it. I can accept some other things being done my local and state governments, like roads and even schools.
I believe that the government that governs least governs best. I believe there are only a few things government can do better than the private sector (even then it's the least worst option) like roads, fire departments, ambulances, police departments, and the military. In other situations, I believe private companies can do a better job, whether that be as a non-profit charity taking care of the needy or private companies competing to offer the best possible health care options at better prices.
I am a Conservative because I believe that, no matter how much money you have, it's your property. While the Constitution grants government the right to levy taxes, if you read the writings of the founders it becomes clear that they did not intend the taxation of incomes at rates of 40%, 50%, or even 70% in mind! Remember, the founders served in Congress, the Presidential cabinet, as our first five Presidents, and as governors of the individual states after the Constitution was ratified. Do you know what sort of taxes they levied? Tariffs on imports and consumption taxes on certain goods like tobacco and alcohol.
I'm a Conservative because I believe that the Republican party gained what it set out to achieve when the GOP (not Democrats) passed the Civil Rights Amendment and reformed the tax code in the 80s, so now we stand on what we've achieved and said "we've achieved the best possible legislative climate that government can create, let's leave things here."
Why I say I'm a Conservative and not a Republican is because the GOP has spent the last twenty years or so failing Conservatism. The failures of the Republican party recently are not indicative of Conservatism. They are indicative of Liberalism being legislated from the right. It's not about being a Republican (it never was) it's about being a Conservative, because Conservatism works.