In recent weeks, several members of the more conservative wing of the GOP have stated that the reason the party failed so miserably this election is because it turned its back on fiscal discipline by turning toward the political center. Perhaps conservative stalwart L. Brent Bozell put it most succinctly when he said, “The liberal wing of the GOP has caused the collapse of the Republican Party.” Make no mistake — Republicans did fail to rein in spending over the past eight years. But the GOP did not lose this election because it abandoned its small-government philosophy. Rather, the party lost the election because its small-government philosophy was incomplete...For years, Republicans have extolled the virtues of getting government off our backs and out of our lives. In doing so, they were echoing the words of Ronald Reagan, who famously stated in his first inaugural address that, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” But even Reagan knew that government has a role in our society. He understood that in addition to promising to make government smaller, Republicans also had an obligation to make sure government operated efficiently and effectively. “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding,” Reagan declared in this same inaugural address, “it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work.” For years, Republicans have had selective retention with regard to what Reagan espoused. They have embraced the small-government aspect of his philosophy at the expense of the smart government part of it. And for years, they have been able to get by with a message that promised tax relief and little else. But after the mismanagement of Iraq, the ineptitude of Katrina and the failure of Walter Reed, the chickens have come home to roost.