Something thoughts I had while reading this opinion piece.
This is actually something we’ve spoken about on this blog for some time. In our running debates over what defines conservatives vs. Republicans vs. right wingers and what defines liberals vs. progressives vs. Democrats, we have come up with some rather clever monikers to describe the circus-like American political theatre. We have spoken of the Right-Wingers Against Really Real Reality! (RWARRR!!), the Band of Liberals Opposed to Winning Major Elections (BLOWME), and – of course- the organization I work for – Super Secret Liberal Takeover Headquarters*.
SAWB has mentioned many times that I need to rethink my Party affiliation based loosely on my general disdain for individuals named Pelosi, Reid, Waxman and Frank. I could be convinced to do so if the other side ever gave up their disdain for individuals named Eisenhower, Roosevelt & Lincoln. With that in mind, and with the Green and Libertarian Parties running washed-up Georgia congressmen and women for the Presidency, it seems I’m “home” to stay.
I have long lamented the lack of really real conservatives that actually make sense to the “Center-Right America” we claim to be. The conservatism that I recognize as beneficial and necessary to America seems dead, and the GOP abandoned it. Nowadays, and I’ve said this before, the right wing and the GOP machine seem more a party of marketing majors selling nothing more than a brand name made popular by Reagan. They sell efficiency and competence and have rarely delivered over the last 8 years.
But my biggest problem comes from the more sinister items they sell: the culture wars, the anti-intellectualism and the jingoism. I’d believe they were actually “pro-life” if they had a volunteer, education and cultural movement as strong as their high dollar-high division political machine. As someone who keeps the unwanted pregnancy numbers lower by not tomcatting through town, it leaves an awful bad taste in my mouth when “conservative” friends and family call me a “baby killer” in one breath and tell me I need to get laid in the next. I find it disgusting that so much political hay is made over marriage by the generation that laid waste to mine through the dysfunctional nuclear family and the 52% divorce rate – if they cared so much about family values they’d clean their own house first. The demonization of public education and college professors erodes the value of critical thinking so necessary to find real solutions to problems. And the “with us or with the terrorists” nonsense and “enemy combatants” legal maneuvering used to explain away such varied and disasterous tactics from not sending enough troops in the first place all the way to water-boarding.
Those things aren’t conservatism, but they bring in money, encourage the “base,” and help win elections. This is especially true when you can sell underdog mythology to a population. I know more upper-middle class, financially comfortable, Christian Caucasians who feel oppressed and victimized by boogeymen than I can count.
Those things aren’t conservatism: they don’t make government more cost effective and efficient; they don’t address even the few problems conservatives believe should exist in government purview; and they don’t inspire true courage to be a great nation. Those are the politics of short-sightedness and electioneering.
One of the reasons for the collective disappointment in the John McCain campaign (and something that probably contributed a great deal to the confused message) was that he was thought of as a true conservative (agree with his immigration policy or not) on many issues, and then let his campaign run like the Bush culture warrior ethos that people have started to associate with inefficient, costly and ineffective government.
So, why would McCain have switched from real conservatism to Bush-Palin divisive politics? The GOP’s McCarthy genetic, that’s why. It sums up so many things I have thought over the years, wondering why the Party representing “conservative” values ended up tacking so far away from real conservatism. And you can bet we’ll see these politics again. Last night in Georgia, we saw them win. We’ll see them in 2010 in the mid-term elections. And Sarah Palin will run for President in 2012, bringing all this marketing, electioneering and McCarthyism with her – just in time to defeat pragmatic conservative Bobby Jindal in the primaries.