There hasn’t been much daylight between the Conservative movement and the GOP in a long, long time. The difference is probably most embodied in Bush father and son. Father was willing to use Conservatives, but he wasn’t one of them. Reagan was. Nixon wasn’t, but was also more than happy to use them. Bush II, well, to the extent he thought at all, that monkey fuck, he was one of them.
The reason for this was simple: conservatism put the GOP into power. Sure, there are some freaks of nature that were actually liberal in many ways, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or who were “none of the above” like Ron Paul, but for the most part, there are about as many liberal Republicans today as there were anti-New Deal Democrats in 1934.
But that’s not the case anymore. Not only is conservatism losing elections, it’s being exposed as a delirous fantasy that seems to benefit a certain class. Laffer/Voodoo/Trickle Down/Supply Side economics was nothing more than a cleverly concocted bunch of shit to give dough-faced geeks the intellectual hauteur to excuse their disdain for the mainstreamers who kicked their asses in high school, a matching accessory to Bill Buckley’s royalist accent and George Will’s pseudo-bookish bowtie. Liberals, you see, were bleeding hearts. Serious thinking men were conservatives.
The dishonesty of the argument is built in. If the whole point is for it to “trickle down” then ostensibly the measure of the theory is its ability to provide for the “down.” If it had ever demonstrated one non spurious instance of working, that would have been one thing. It didn’t. This was something that failed in 1873 if not in 1929. Fool us five times, shame on us?
Another Orwellian load of pseudointellectual bullshit propounded by Conservatives is Constitution as Commandment. It’s not enough for things to be Constitutional. It must be Constitutional exactly as was intended in 1789. Of course, this conveniently ignores that (as anyone who’d ever read about the Convention would know) there was never one single opinion about any of it. For all of their supposed reverence for the Founders and the Constitution, Originalism has done nothing but drastically and haphazardly water down our civil liberties. It is a failed philosophy, just like trickle down.
Conservatives attempt to claim credit for the downfall of the USSR as a permanent patent on foreign policy and military strength. This is purely an artifact of the Vietnam generation. Democrats presided over every major war in the 20th century (Iraq I—puh leeze), and Republicans ended two of them. There is documentary proof that Reagan’s buildup did actually contribute to the downfall of communism. But somehow that means that only Republicans know how to deal with Islamic terrorism?
Of course, Republican foreign policy as propounded by Neoconservatives, movement Conservatives, and the Christian Right essential involves imperial domination of the rest of the world, regardless of whether war is required. For the Neocons, it’s about controlling the oil reserves in Asia. For movement conservatives it’s quite frankly about killing Muslims. For the Christian Right it’s partly about killing muslims, partly about hasting the eschaton.
Most Americans don’t want that. Oil isn’t a priority for us because we pay for it, we don’t profit from it. Therefore, we’d love to replace it instead of spending trillions to horde it. And, it goes without saying, that most of us do not want to live to see the eschaton.
In social policy, it turns out most people don’t want to told what to do if it doesn’t bother others. Making your whole life about hating gay people or abortions is a concern of a dying time. Also, people generally don’t want smog and most people like science and believe in evolution, global warming, and gravity.
Conservatism is tired out. It’s extraordinary claims about perfect endings have been falsified, and that falsification has finally been internalized by the voters.
There’s a famous social psychology experiment where the researchers penetrated a cult. The aliens were supposed to show up at midnight. Everything they believed focussed on that. Before that night, the group was insular and did not proselytize and avoided the media. A few hours after midnight, the group suddenly began to preach actively and prsoelytize through the media.
Midnight has come and gone and the hysterical screeches from these fanatics is the result of their denial about being wrong, and, worse, about everyone else knowing it. It must be something wasn’t executed right. It was Bush. He did it wrong.
No, he did it right. He was the conservative par excellence.
Conservatism grew into its present form by starting with sound bases. Punishing cheaters. Fiscal discipline. Refusal to reject religion in a knee jerk manner. Renewing our commitment to the original vision of the country.
All of these are great ideas and should be reinterpreted in a way that doesn’t destroy the economy, the world’s environment, the country’s education system and infrastructure, make us an international pariah, and destroy our liberties in the furtherance of a false war, all while claiming to make everyone richer, the world freer, and denying the problem with the environment.
The GOP as a party of elected officials is starting to think maybe it’s time to rethink itself. The Conservatives are dead enders. It’s their loss, not all of ours anymore.