There’s No Such Thing As ‘Compassionate Conservatives’ And Here Are 7 Reasons Why

While serving as President of the National Urban League in 1981, Vernon Jordan said of Ronald Reagan, “I do not challenge the conservatism of this administration. I do challenge its failure to exhibit a compassionate conservatism that adapts itself to the realities of a society ridden by class and race distinction.”

Since then, conservatives have worked hard to try to pretend they own the label. George W. Bush used it as a set of policy initiatives to reform welfare and ultimately cut funding to those who need it most. It quickly became more like “tough love” than about anything compassionate.

Here are a few reasons you know they’re full of it:



22 Republican senators voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. If that isn’t bad enough, right-wing groups Family Research Council, Heritage Action, and FreedomWorks all urged lawmakers to vote against VAWA. What members have against holding abusers of women and children accountable I will never know, but it’s messed up.

2. The rights of the disabled

In the U.S., we have the Americans with Disabilities Act, but did you know that in 2012 the United Nations attempted to take that landmark law global? Ailing former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole rolled into the Senate floor that day to encourage senators to vote for the bill. Despite the treaty being designed after America’s own law, 38 Republicans said no. The treaty was signed, however, by 155 nations and ratified by 126 total countries. The goal was to ensure all disabled people could have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia all signed. Thanks to Senate Republicans, the U.S. didn’t.

“I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, from my home state of Oklahoma. Classy.

3. Screwing seniors. 

Wall Street lapdog and former almost-Speaker Eric Cantor summed up the GOP agenda on Social Security when he said:

“I mean, just from the very notion that it said that 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those monies as their sole source of income. So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”

Remember, folks, if not for this guy’s stupidity and lousy campaigning, he’d be Speaker of the House right now. In 2013, the GOP tried to make good on those words by threatening to shut down the government if the Democrats didn’t cave to their demands to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. It backfired spectacularly. A Harris Interactive poll at the time showed “only 12% of the public want to see a cut in Social Security payments.” They did get a partial win however – part of the deal the White House struck with Congress was that they would only agree to raise the debt ceiling and increase spending if it was “borrowed” from Social Security and Medicare.

4. Literally taking food out of starving children’s mouths. 

In 2009, Congress passed a temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) because the economy had tanked and people needed help. But November 1, 2013 those numbers were returned to their former levels, despite more help being needed. And the House GOP wanted to take things a step further by cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 5 percent, or about $4 billion each year.

5. Splitting up families. 

President Obama’s executive actions around immigration reform aimed to keep families together. When immigrants come into the U.S. and have children who are citizens it means that parents can get deported while their minor children are still in the country. It’s not only heartless, it’s stupid. Imagine how much money that’s going to cost in the courts and in child protective services. So what does the GOP do? It’s suing, saying the reforms were outside the scope of the President’s authority.

If that isn’t bad enough, just this week, Republican Senator Ron Johnson said that deporting children to Honduras is totally fine because it’s such a “beautiful country.”  If you didn’t know, Honduras was the murder capitol of the world, until recently.

6. Living wage.

Last year, Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Making matters worse, Democrats are powerless to stop it because they need 60 votes to break the GOP threat of a filibuster. There hasn’t been a vote since.

7. Obamacare

There have been so many lawsuits against Obamacare it’s ridiculous. This week, the Supreme Court announced it will hear the religious objection to the birth control mandate. Apparently conservatives think the only reason to take birth control is to have promiscuous sex instead of all of the other potential reasons that women need to regulate their hormones or prevent getting pregnant. If that isn’t enough, conservatives REALLY hate Medicare. Here’s why John Oliver tried to explain to people voting last Tuesday was important:


Can we finally agree that this idea of “compassion” on the right is more like “anything but.” Either they have to declare that they’re not compassionate or conservatism doesn’t lend itself to compassion by any means.

Feature image via University of Texas