Compassionate conservatism

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Compassionate conservatism is a political philosophy that was invented by Marvin Olasky, whose book Compassionate Conservatism: What it is, What it Does, and How it Can Transform America was published in 2000, and Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute. Olasky has been called the "godfather of compassionate conservatism". The phrase was made very popular when George W. Bush adopted it as one of his key slogans during his 2000 presidential campaign against Al Gore, though its orgins actually date back to the Presidency of his father, George H. W. Bush.

A compassionate conservative is someone who believes that conservatism and compassion go together and complement each other. This is opposed to the traditional criticism that conservatives tend to be more strict and calculating. A compassionate conservative sees the social problems of the United States, such as healthcare, immigration, the environment, etc., as being issues that conservatives can find solutions to just as well as liberals. Part of compassionate conservatism involves Faith Based Initiatives, the idea that religious organizations can be more effective in managing social programs than the government with government funds.

Conservatives argue that compassion has always been in their vocabulary. They say that the principles of conservatism lead to a more prosperous and stable society that is inherently compassionate towards others, in which local communities help their own in a neighborly fashion, rather than depend on national efforts with less community based understanding of issues. They aim for a society that helps others to help themselves, thereby avoiding reliance on the government for their needs. Also, some people, especially more fundamentalist conservatives, see compassionate conservatism as just another word for a moderate, regardless of whether they are a Democrat, Republican or a member of a third party.

Opponents argue that compassionate conservativism is a meaningless phrase, an oxymoron, and an example of hypocrisy. Such opponents argue that conservatives are not compassionate towards the poor, minorities, the unemployed, etc. Critics charge that conservatives have historically been indifferent to the concerns of those not in the mainstream culture (see AIDS, mental illness, same-sex marriage) and that the exploitation of evangelicalism by compassionate conservatives is disrespectful to other religious groups (see separation of Church and State). Many point out that locally-driven "compassion" creates a potential for unequal treatment of similar problems and for local biases to take precedence over general standards.

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