…If you want to understand conservatism today, you must start with the fact that conservatives today believe that the liberal welfare state destroys "community." This belief was stated best by British Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2005. He said: "There is such a thing as society. It's just not the same thing as the state."
Conservatives believe that community dies when the government grows. Instead of government coming in to solve every problem, we believe that the health of society depends upon everyone, even the struggling poor, coming forward to take up communal responsibilities. Every time a bureaucrat issues a ukase instead of people deciding in a little platoon, community withers.
So when President Obama proposes to achieve a better balance between the individual and the community with a gigantic government takeover of the health insurance market, conservatives believe that the result will be a disaster for "community." When we argue for spending cuts, we do it not because we no longer care about community, but because we believe that current government spending will make the government "go Greek" with a follow-on demolition of "community." We regard the financial regulations of the last ten years -- from Sarbanes-Oxley to Dodd-Frank -- as making things worse, because these bureaucratic laws take responsibility away from the financial and business community and set failed government regulators in charge.
E.J. Dionne apparently knows about Edmund Burke. How about Herbert Spencer? Liberals love to tag him as the inventor of "social Darwinism," but Spencer the railway engineer made the obvious point that when the relief of the poor is done by the state, "the payment of [taxes] will supplant the exercise of true benevolence, and a fulfillment of the legal form, will supersede the exercise of the moral duty." Bureaucracy destroys community; who knew?