While his party moves Right under Obama, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham remains the quintessential big government Republican. Six months into his presidency, the most significant difference between Obama and Bush seems to be that the new president is determined to spend more money than the last one. That Graham shows signs that he might be more willing than other Republicans to support this continuity, does not make him an exemplary model of what the GOP should be, but a painful reminder of what it has not been—the party of limited government. In trying to define this philosophy, Ronald Reagan once said “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” Graham rejected such thinking as near heresy at the SC GOP state convention in May, declaring “I am not a libertarian… we’re not going to build this party around libertarian ideas.”
So what sort of ideas does Graham believe the GOP should be built around? More Bush Republicanism? Working closely with the Obama administration? At a time when so many Americans from across the political spectrum are becoming disenchanted with the status quo, Graham will continue to be praised by liberals because his purpose has never been to tear down government—but to protect, nurture and restore people’s faith in it.