Dang it's a tough time to be a conservative. Let's face it, every political column from Hoboken to Keokuk is singing the same refrain. The conservative movement revolves around two central issues - low taxes and small government. But this presidential cycle offers some awkward choices for those among us who call ourselves conservatives. Do you know what it feels like not to be invited to the party? I'm beginning to get that feeling. If Ronald Reagan indeed gave birth to the modern conservative movement, then George W. Bush has certainly presided over the funeral. Now let me hastily say without reservation that the conservative movement remains alive and well, vocal and adamant, resolute and sincere. But a strange thing happened on the way to the 2008 elections - conservatives are finding little appeal in terms of choices. Regardless of the outcome, few conservatives will be happy. The conservative movement now of course embraces much more than low taxes/small government. Social issues ranging from abortion to school prayer to gay marriage to illegal immigration now combine in the mix to define a conservative. The original thrust of the conservative movement has been muddled through the years in an ever-increasing narrow definition. And maybe that's the problem. So are conservatives now relegated to second-tier status? Has the movement for personal responsibility and accountability simply fallen victim to the times? There is certainly no joy among the conservatives of prominence - Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, et. al. They are simply beside themselves when considering the choices on the national horizon. And they come to this perplexing point with great convictions. If the conservative line in the sand has been drawn, then the national movement is rapidly sticking their toes across that line in unison. We who call ourselves conservatives don't have a dog in this fight. Granted, I suspect there will be a slow migration throughout this year toward the center of the national agenda. But it can't and won't migrate far enough to satisfy the conservative agenda. For fear of being labeled pessimistic, let me point out that all is most certainly not lost. Even the worse case scenario does not paint a dismal portrait of doom and gloom. But it does not bode well for those who believe the government should have less impact over our daily lives. It does not bode well for those of us who fear an increasing growth of the federal government at the expense of personal initiative. It does not bode well for those of us who believe it takes parents and responsibility and determination to raise a child instead of some Utopian concept of a village taking on that responsibility. Maybe, just maybe, we have arrived at a time when so many people feed at the public trough that the concepts of conservatism have faded to the wayside. Just look around and it's increasingly easy to make that argument. That in itself is troubling. But what's worse is that an increase in the role of the federal government will only help to feed the problem and the prospects of a reversing trend become more remote with each passing day. Wait just a minute! Maybe I am pessimistic after all. Maybe I'm concerned that the issue of illegal immigration barely makes a ripple in our national conversation. Maybe I'm concerned that the prevailing prescription to our economic woes is more government intervention. Maybe I'm concerned that liberal judicial activists may soon populate the highest court in the land. Is there cause for concern? Only if you're a conservative. Or a realist. Or a taxpayer. Or a parent. Quite frankly, the list is too long and the time too short.