Once the Republicans were in power, though, the promises faded, and all policies were directed at maintaining or increasing power by trying to whittle away at Democratic strength by acting like big-spending Democrats.
The Republican Congress never once stood up against the Bush/Rove machine that demanded support for unconstitutional wars, attacks on civil liberties here at home, and an economic policy based on more spending, more debt, and more inflation -- while constantly preaching the flawed doctrine that deficits don't matter as long as taxes aren't raised.
After eight years of perpetual (and unnecessary and unconstitutional) war, persistent and expanded attacks on our privacy, runaway deficits, and now nationalization of the financial system, Republicans are going to have a tough time regaining the confidence of the American people. But that's what must be done.
I find it quite unfortunate that the Republicans in Congress as well as in the Executive Branch did not operate on the conservative principles that the party was founded on. Clearly, the new Republican (the neo-con's) strategy of big government with lots of unnecessary spending was a huge misstep in policy.
We have seen, as Ron Paul said, in the past eight years how the party has strayed further and further from the principles that they should be governing by. George Bush ran on a non-nation building foreign policy in 2000, yet just a few years later we find ourselves in Iraq doing exactly that. Our standing in the world has fallen dramatically by our invasive and interventionist foreign policy, which has also ballooned our deficit.
It was truly something to see when Republican after Republican in the House and Senate argued in support of the bailout. I was actually in shock to see the "Conservative" party support the ultimate in government intervention and wasteful spending. This was totally in line with Paul's comment, "all policies were directed at maintaining or increasing power by trying to whittle away at Democratic strength by acting like big-spending Democrats." Even until just a couple months before the election they were doing just that: acting like big-spending Democrats.