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Nov 10 2012

What pray tell is a conservative then?

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Watching honest conservatives flail around trying to face the many elephants in their house has been a bit entertaining these last few days. Two such moderates I listen to more than others are Megan McCain of House McCain and Steve Schmidt from MSNBC, they both seem pretty straight forward and accurate. And listening to them and others like David Frum, it struck me, if the GOP does what they collectively suggest, excise the anti-science morons, get rid of abortion-under-no-circumstances as  a 100% do or die issue, tamp down on hatred of gays and immigrants, address racial prejudice, all while holding out an olive branch to minorities, and accept that sometimes, taxes might have to go up and down in some brackets, plus try to remove the worst of grifters … what is left that defines a conservative?

I mean … that’s pretty much it man. You strip out all that hatred and exploitation, most of the willful ignorance and monolithic, stubborn stupidity out of the GOP, and, well, they’d be democrats or democratic leaning indies. Or maybe just completely non political. Right? Because the entire modern Republican Party is a con job wrapped around giving rich people more money and power, and tricking the rest of the electorate to vote to give rich people more money and power.

That’s sad to say, but if we’re doing some intra-party soul searching on the heels of a crushing defeat, that’s the truth.  So yeah, I think the GOP may be way, way more fucked than even McCain or Schmidt realize and it’s hard to see how they ever get out of that trap.

30 comments

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  1. 1
    glodson

    This has been a long time coming. And it won’t be solved easily. This is a group that spouts words like freedom and liberty, all while taking steps to remove those from our lives. The GOP appeases its base by appealing to the tribalistic nature in humanity, and the moderates in the Party are probably not so comfortable. Or they didn’t notice as the party shifted right over the years.

    And the Tea Party… That was a turning point. I thought it would be ultimately bad for the party, and I think I’m turning out to be rightcorrect. Yes, it got some conservatives fired up, but it scared the shit out of us on the left. And the moderates.

    This will be a party in conflict for awhile. If it had just been Romney losing, I doubt it would be that bad for them. But it was a massive failure on all fronts. Pretty much made my week, and it is hopefully the start of tearing down the Wall of Separation between Republican and Reality.

  2. 2
    Uncle Glenny

    You haven’t mentioned any part of fiscal conservatism.

  3. 3
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    I could go on about it for a long time Glenny. In short, I would say fiscal conservatism means cutting spending when dems are in power and on programs dems champion. Like everythikgn else in the GOP, it’s a con.

    It wasn’t always like that. When I was a toddler the GOP was the champion of civil rights, when I was a tweener they were the pragmatic science party while the left had a big chunk that could be accuraterly described as hippie moon bats. So it doesn’ have to be this way.

    But they have to face the truth, we hear a lot about how the teaparty or the religious rght has hijacked the GOP, but that’s not entirely accurate. The Tax Cutting and Government Subsidizing Privatization Industry is what hijacked them long ago and that’s what holds them hostage still, everything else is subservient to that force.

  4. 4
    steve84

    They can still be pro-business. They don’t have to open the floodgates to immigration. They can still be against a proper healthcare system.

    The problem is that they are all the way to the right and that they are against any sort of compromise and discussion. They are plenty of ways in which they can become more moderate and reasonable without actually giving up all their positions.

  5. 5
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Healthcare is an intersting point. The GOP won that issue. They fucking won. We didn’t get single payer, we got Heritage Foundation Romneycare on a national scale. They won, but they couldn’t accept the victory, instead they had to run away screaming from it because Obama signed off on it. Because the goal was never to solve problems like healthcare, the goal is to elect guys like Romney who cut taxes for rich people and hand out private contracts to rich people.

  6. 6
    Neil Rickert

    An honest conservative would look pretty much like a Democrat.

    The old political left has almost disappeared, except in the imagination of right wing radicals.

  7. 7
    arno

    If one compares the US-democrats to the typical European conseratives, there seem to be a lot of similarities. That may explain why the US-republicans struggle to find a non-crazy defining aspect.

  8. 8
    mikmik

    Stephen “DarkSyde” Andrew: ✓ ✓

  9. 9
    Nick Gotts

    The old political left has almost disappeared, except in the imagination of right wing radicals. – Neil Rickert

    This probably has a lot to do with the Republicans’ descent into wingnuttery.

  10. 10
    Brian

    This is something that really bothers me when conservatives try to dodge the racist parts of their viewpoint. They say that it’s not racist to want to return to the “good old days” but they can never tell me what parts they actually like(or they say they want to protect the constitution from us lefties who hate it or something. I’m not 100% up on the straw man du jour).

  11. 11
    billgascoyne

    The canard about cult vs. religion applies to the GOP, that is, in a cult there’s someone at the top who knows it’s all a scam, but in a religion that person is dead. The GOP courted the religious nuts in the 80′s, scamming them into voting Republican by promising to address their social agenda, but never delivering because that would have ended the scam (and they’d have to come up with a new one). It worked too well. All the scammers have died or retired, and now the only people left to run the party are the ones who have already drunk the Kook-aid, that is, the Tea Party. The Republican Party will either become once again a reasonable alternative to the Democrats, or it will die.

  12. 12
    julian

    Conservatism isn’t the GOP and the GOP is only one way (a very bad, reactionary way) to do conservatism. f your really interested in what conservatives would be left with you should ask them. But don’t equate the whole of conservative thought with the US GOP.

  13. 13
    grendelsfather

    An honest conservative would look pretty much like a Democrat.

    The old political left has almost disappeared, except in the imagination of right wing radicals.

    QFT

  14. 14
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    You haven’t mentioned any part of fiscal conservatism.

    Because depending on what you mean by that, wither conservatives haven’t practiced any in a generation at least, or it’s simply a bad idea overall. If you mean ‘government should be run efficiently,’ then Conservatives are dreadful at that, and have been for a very long time. If you mean ‘cut taxers on the rich and slash infrastructure spending and social programs while pissing trillions of dollars down the rathole of a bloated military,’ which based on the evidence is what conservatives do mean by it, then it’s a bad idea which delivers catastrophic results, as demonstrated most recently by the Bush administration.

  15. 15
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Oops, blockquote fail, and I hit submit too soon.
    Julian

    if your really interested in what conservatives would be left with you should ask them.

    Go for it, then. Explain what else conservatives stand for.

  16. 16
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Neil Rickert #6:

    The old political left has almost disappeared, except in the imagination of right wing radicals.

    This. And this is true not just in the US, but damn near everywhere. It didn’t even start in the US — the “Third Way”, which has reduced leftist parties from the Democrats to the Canadian Liberals and Labour/Labor parties the world over into joking “centre-left” shadows of the right, was invented by Bob Hawke’s Australian Labor Party in the 1980s. The Dems, Canadian Liberals and UK Labour just took very extensive notes.

    Dalillama #15:

    Go for it, then. Explain what else conservatives stand for.

    How’s this?

  17. 17
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Setár #16

    Well, yes. I meant what do they stand for besides authoritariansim and bigotry. Stephen initially said that if you remove that there’s nothing left of conservatism, while Julian claims that there is some form of conservatism that isn’t that. I was therefor asking Julian what that alleged conservatism might be. Your link pretty much describes what Stephen was talking about through a different lens.

  18. 18
    Randomfactor

    Lies.

    That’s what the remainder of conservative candidates would stand for.

    When they no longer are willing to stand for lying in order to win, I’ll personally grant them a place in government.

  19. 19
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Dalillama #17:

    Well, yes. I meant what do they stand for besides authoritariansim and bigotry. Stephen initially said that if you remove that there’s nothing left of conservatism, while Julian claims that there is some form of conservatism that isn’t that. I was therefor asking Julian what that alleged conservatism might be. Your link pretty much describes what Stephen was talking about through a different lens.

    Which is my entire point: julian is being an apologist for conservatives. They don’t like seeing conservatives’ hands exposed, so they’re rushing in here to muse on about all of the invisible sophisticated conservatives who have some sort of valid point somewhere.

    There’s no there there, and conservatives try to cover that up as much as — if not more than — theologians do. All it is is a simple, but very very loud scream of…

    Lies.

    That’s what the remainder of conservative candidates would stand for.

    When they no longer are willing to stand for lying in order to win, I’ll personally grant them a place in government.

    PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN, RANDOMFACTOR!!!!!

  20. 20
    Amphiox

    You haven’t mentioned any part of fiscal conservatism.

    That’s because the Republican Party doesn’t do fiscal conservatism, except as rhetoric.

    When you actually look at actions and the real-world effect of stated policies, the only fiscal conservatives that exist in US politics are Democrats.

  21. 21
    lorn

    In the 60s he GOP faced the fact that pretty much everyone, outside a minority of hard core Republicans, religious zealots, racists, bigots, and Bitchers was, for the most part, behind the Democrats. So the GOP sided with the bigots and Birchers and did whatever was necessary to inflame racism, bigotry, and fear to win a bare majority. It was a deal made with the devil.

    The problem with such extremists is that zealots need regular and increasingly deep sacrifice and flattery to be managed. They dream of taking over and will only work with non-beleivers and make common cause if it will advance their larger goal. The price, cheap at first, little more than a few kind words and a seat at the table in the beginning, has become a series of litmus tests. A GOP candidate has to perform the unnatural act of toeing an artificial but strict party line on abortion, taxes, free markets, ever more defense spending, reducing regulations, talking nice about billionaires, and scores of others, to keep the coalition intact.

    The unnatural act of dreaming and speaking of freedom while being slave to an inherently contradictory party line has driven the GOP insane. Cognitive dissonance allowed by hate and resentment can only be stretched so far.

  22. 22
    had3

    If the old political left is gone, and a true conservative, stripped of the crazy would look like the democrats, then that means the conservatives already won by getting rid of the liberals. Or at least in getting liberals to shift right enough to be the new conservatives. If sacrificing some to the wingnuttery in order to get the majority to slide to the right, then that seems like a genius play on the part of the conservative leadership of the 80′s.

  23. 23
    Michael Brew

    Maybe the GOP will be like, “Screw you, Democrats, you’re the conservative party. We’re liberals, now. Liberty, equality, fraternity!” And then everyone will be confused. And it will be all part of the master plan…

  24. 24
    Reginald Selkirk

    I echo what #21 lorn said. The Republicans deliberately courted the wingnut fundagelicals because they needed the votes. If they get rid of the crazies, they won’t have enough votes left to win anything – especially so because decades of courting the crazies has driven a lot of sane people out of their party.

  25. 25
    llewelly

    The Republicans still hold a majority in the House. They still hold enough Senate seats to keep the Senate almost entirely dysfunctional.

    The current round of post-election “soul-searching” will only continue until a bill having to do with “Obama’s leftist agenda” comes to either house of congress. Then they’ll decide the House majority is as much of a “mandate” as they need, and go back to what they were doing before Obama got re-elected.

  26. 26
    mikmik

    Time for another Claus von Stauffenberg.

  27. 27
    kreativekaos

    Wow. Reading this main post was reading my own thoughts back to myself.

    Would Republicans/conservatives be tweaking themselves out of existence? That seems what they would need to do to be relevant to the changing electorate demographic.

    Hmmm…..
    (1) Don’t change and continue to lose ground and atrophy as a relevant political party or force, or..

    (2) Change significantly enough to ‘appeal’ to the emerging change in thinking and new demographic–and begin to fade as an opposition party. OR,…

    (3)Double down and refine lies to maintain political power and get into office

  28. 28
    kreativekaos

    Cognitive dissonance allowed by hate and resentment can only be stretched so far. –lorn @21

    True enough,… but the ‘TEE PARROTY’ wing-nuts have gained so much clout and notoriety since 2010, they still seem to command a significant focus and attention,… so much so that one practically can’t watch a weekly Sunday national political review show (ie, Face the Nation, Meet the Press, others) without at least hearing them mentioned a few times or even having a seat at any weekly table of talking heads. Unfortunately, I certainly have not seen any near-equivalent representation by the Occupy movement.

    Perhaps TEE PARROTY’s influence will wane, but I’m not holding my breath on that.

  29. 29
    mikmik

    I thought this youTube was hilarious. It’s a comment on the typical voters in the south. This guy is funny as hell:

    Published on Nov 7, 2012

    Here in the south, conservative Christians are going insane over Barack Obama’s reelection victory last night. Dusty Smith brings you the freak out in all it’s amazing glory.

    It reminds me of last election when at a rally, McCain tells that woman the Obama isn’t a Muslim, and she is dumbfounded, “WHAT!?”

    I can tell you what a conservative voter is: brainwashed!

  30. 30
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    kreativekaos #28:

    Unfortunately, I certainly have not seen any near-equivalent representation by the Occupy movement.

    That’s because Occupy didn’t lay out the theoretical framework for their movement or cause worldwide revolutions within the first month. They just got arrested, which obviously means they were just troublemakers who didn’t really do anything.

    ‘Cause, y’know, mainstream media is totally not biased against anti-neoliberal movements. They would never, ever act like a tiny portion of violent people is representative of a protest that explicitly declares nonviolence, nor would they blithely ignore the declarations of nonviolence, and they certainly wouldn’t be unskeptical of how the police are treating anti-neoliberals compared to teabaggers. The media is fair and balanced, they know how to do their job which is why they’re always talking to already-well-off Sophisticated Economists about how to solve poor people’s problems.

    (And if you think I’m being serious, well, there’s this bridge in New York that I really need to get off my hands…)

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