Fact Sheet: Compassionate Conservatism
April 30, 2002
"I call my philosophy and approach compassionate conservatism. It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and results. And with this hopeful approach, we will make a real difference in people's lives."
President George W. Bush
- President Bush today in California will outline his governing philosophy of compassionate conservatism. The President will define in theory and practice what it means to be a compassionate conservative and how this vision guides his Administration.
- In his Inaugural Address, the President called on Americans to become citizens, not spectators. Since that time the President has used compassionate conservatism as his governing philosophy as the Administration has moved to tackle some of society's toughest assignments, such as educating our children, fighting poverty at home, and helping poor countries around the globe.
- It is compassionate to actively help our citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on accountability and results. This approach of hope and optimism will make a real difference in people's lives.
- The President rejects the old argument of "big government" vs. "indifferent government." Government should be focused, effective and close to the people -- a government that does a few things, and does them well. We are using an active government to promote self-government.
- The truest kind of compassion doesn't only come from more government spending, but from helping citizens build lives of their own. The aim of this philosophy is not to spend less money, or to spend more money, but to spend only on what works.
- The President rejects the old argument of "big government" vs. "indifferent government."
- Government should be focused, effective and close to the people -- a government that does a few things, and does them well.
- Government cannot solve every problem, but it can encourage people and communities to help themselves and one another. The truest kind of compassion is to help citizens build better lives of their own.
- We do not believe in a sink-or-swim society. The policies of our government must heed the universal call of all faiths to love our neighbors as we would want to be loved ourselves. We are using an active government to promote self-government.
- It is compassionate to actively help our citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on accountability and results.
- The President believes the truest kind of compassion doesn't only come from more government spending, but from helping citizens build lives of their own. The aim of this philosophy is not to spend less money, or to spend more money, but to spend only on what works. The measure of compassion is more than good intentions -- it is good results. Sympathy is not enough -- we need solutions.
- The President's vision of compassionate conservatism effectively tackles some of society's toughest assignments -- educating our children, fighting poverty at home and aiding poor countries around the world.
- Educating our Children. Compassionate conservatism places great hope and confidence in public education. Public schools are America's great hope, and making them work for every child is America's great duty. The President's new education reform is compassionate because it requires schools to meet new, high standards of performance in reading and math. The new reforms also give local schools and teachers the freedom, resources and training to meet their needs. It is conservative to let local communities chart their own path to excellence. It is compassionate to make sure that no child is left behind.
- Fighting Poverty at Home. Compassionate conservatism offers a new vision for fighting poverty in America. For many Americans, welfare once was a static and destructive way of life. In 1996 welfare was reformed to include work and time limits and since that time America's welfare rolls have been cut by more than half. More importantly, many lives have been drastically improved. Millions of Americans once on welfare are finding that a job is more than a source of income -- it is also a source of dignity. By encouraging work, we practice compassion.
- Government should promote the work of charities, community groups and faith-based institutions. Government should view Americans who work in faith-based charities as partners, not as rivals. When it comes to providing resources the government should not discriminate against these groups that often inspire life-changing faith in a way that government never should.
- Helping Poor Countries Around the World. Nearly half of the world's people live on less than two dollars a day. When we help them we show our compassion, our values, and our belief in universal human dignity. Yet the old way of pouring vast amounts of money into development aid without any concern for results has failed -- often leaving behind more misery, poverty and corruption.
- America is offering a new compact for global development. Greater aid contributions from America must be linked to greater responsibility from developing nations. The President has proposed a 50% increase in core development assistance over the next three budget years to be placed in a new Millennium Challenge Account -- money that can only be spent on nations that root out corruption, open their markets, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law.
- It is compassionate to increase our international aid. It is conservative to require the hard reforms that lead to prosperity and independence.
George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Compassionate Conservatism Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/280078