What do you see in the future for compassionate conservatism?
I think conservatism will stay with us, and I think compassion will stay with us. I think the term is less important than the theory behind the term. Some people make the mistake of conflating compassion conservativism with big-government conservativism. That's not necessarily the case. They're distinct. One can be for compassionate conservativism and opposed to big-government conservativism. The idea behind the faith-based approach is to promote public policies that strengthen and energize the institutions in society that form character and help the poor and the dispossessed. We haven't made as much progress as we would have liked, but that's almost always the case when you're in government.
President Bush talked in July about his "theological perspective" that the Almighty's gift to humanity is freedom. Help us understand what he means.
His views and the views of this administration are anchored in part in recent human experience. We have been witnessing over the last decades a great movement toward human liberty, the swiftest advance in human freedom in history. But those policies are anchored in more than recent experience. They're grounded in a particular view of human nature. The President's belief is that there's a moral imperative to treat human beings with dignity and decency, and that liberty is the design of nature. This explains why liberty leads to human flourishing.
Most people's view of teleology is shaped by their religious convictions. That's true of President Bush. That was true of President Lincoln. Lincoln used some pretty vivid words. He said, "Nothing stamped with the divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, ...1