Doing nothing can be good conservative policy
To this day it is widely accepted in Australia that Bob Menzies was our greatest Prime Minister. He was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total. He ran Australia in the '50s and most of the '60s in what many now look back upon as a golden age. There was great embarrassment if unemployment exceeded 2% and life was generally tranquil, though Communist unions did their best to make trouble.
But when people say what a great man Bob was, a common response was: "But what did he DO?" And that is a hard question to answer. Whenever people came to Bob and suggested something that the government should do, Bob would reply: "But if we do that, that will create another problem here". So Bob would send the suggestions away, saying that the best thing to do was nothing.
People are always calling on the politicians to do something so it takes great political talent to do nothing. And doing nothing means that the size of the government stays pretty small -- unlike what mostly happens today when the government never ceases to expand.
So Bob's talent was to let the people of the nation create any change they desired, with little or no government interference. If enough people backed the change it would happen. If it had little backing it would not happen. So prosperity and quality of life increased entirely through private initiatives.
Bob was however of Scottish origins and he inherited the great Scottish reverence for education. So he saw it as a real problem that poor families could not send their children to university. So, for once, he DID something about that. He instituted a scheme where the Federal government would send to university all children from poor families who had scored in the top third of High School grades. The government not only paid the tuition fees but even gave the kid a living allowance. It was called the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme and I was one of its beneficiaries.
But Bob was rare even among conservative politicians for his ability to do next to nothing. More on Menzies here
So let me mention another such rarity: "Honest" Frank Nicklin. Would you believe a politician with the nickname "Honest"? In WWI he was a war hero and after the war he was a banana farmer. In 1957, he became the Premier of my home state of Queensland and ran Queensland for around 10 years in the 60s. Frank was by all accounts a very nice man: A pre-Reagan Reagan. He got on well with the bureaucracy and even the unions. So life in Queensland was very tranquil in his time.
How Frank did it can perhaps be gleaned from the words of a unionist who had just gone to see him with some request. He was asked afterwards what had happened with his request. He answered: "Mr. Nicklin can say No in the nicest possible way"!
But, like Bob Menzies Frank did do something: He spent a lot on upgrading the infrastructure -- roads and bridges etc. More on Nicklin here.
And then we come to an example that older Americans will know about: Ike.
Ike didn't like to rock boats and mainly just wanted to let people get on with their own lives. He kept the government low-key and tried to reduce government financial deficits. But he too did SOMETHING. Like Frank Nicklin, he spent a lot on building up infrastructure -- a big network of high quality interstate highways. That network is in rather bad repair these days but if all the money wasted on the global warming myth had been spent the way the three men above operated, there would be no such problem today. Has there ever before been so much money spent with nil result as has been spent on global warming? It would take a war to equal it
But it is wrong to say that conservatives favour the status quo. Conservative-run legislatures legislate as energetically as any but mostly that is just to undo the damage caused by previous Leftist policies. It is Leftist changes that they oppose, not all change. But, as we see above, even the three champion conservative leaders did also make positive changes: carefully considered changes that generated broad consensus
Trump looks to be going down a similar road. He is mainly unwinding Obama-era initiatives rather than launch initiatives of his own. But he has launched one initiative: A Paid Parental Leave Entitlement. Hopefully that will be his version of the "one thing" that deeply conservative leaders sometimes do. Like their initiatives it will probably have broad support. Market-oriented conservatives don't like it very much but family-oriented conservatives probably will. And any welfare proposal will have the Democrats onside -- though they may feel burned that their name won't be on it.