"What Kind of Conservatism"  

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My last post drew some interesting comments from someone called "Baculus". His tone initally suggested he was a RINO-supporting leftist Republican trying to make conservative movement seem more complicated than it is, as people of that stripe tend to do.

My answers to Baculus are as follows. I don't think he's going to be agreeing with most of it, but I do get the impression that he may be more ideologically aligned with modern Federalist philosophy than I initially thought (based on something he said in a later comment).

1. America is a moderate nation - in fact, it is correctly called a "liberal democracy" as well. The Right seems to forget that many of the positions they support are "traditional" liberal positions. Notions such as the Free Market and private property were championed by early liberal thinkers.
America is NOT a moderate nation. America is a "liberal democracy", to be sure, but in the classic definition of the word "liberal". See Sage's work regarding this transition of vocabulary, which accurately shows the Left's successful attempt at hijacking the term for their own evil purposes. America as a whole is closer to the concept of Libertarianism and Federalism than it is to modern liberalism - and very much so. Notice that notions such as the free market and provate property are no longer being championed by people who call themselves liberal.
IMO, Conservatives DO hurt the Republican party, depending upon the type of conservative - in this case, "social conservatives." Ultimately, folks such as Saran Palin did not assist in a McCain victory.
I disagree. Sarah Palin made the race a lot closer than it would have been had she not been on the ticket. What hurt John McCain most was his liberal position on these huge bailouts that got so much press. When he took the same position that Obama did, he lost all credibility as the conservative he was trying to portray himself as. the only thing Palin did wrong in that regard was to go along with him like a dog on a leash. This may well be what Sage was warning us about in the comment area, but her positions on what you call "social" issues brought McCain a great many votes he would not have had otherwise.
2. "Turns Democrat"? I believe it's a mistake to suggest that Republicans have long been the party of small government. In reality, every Republican president in recent memory has support big government spending, including conservative heroes such as Ronald Reagan who led a monstrous increase in federal spending.
At no point have I suggested that Republicans have EVER been the party of small government (though I used to believe they had that potential, and presented them in that light). Reagan's budgets were all overridden by the liberals in Congress, so even though he talked a good game, he didn't have the congressional support he would have needed to implement anything resembling responsible. Had Reagan's budgets passed instead of Congress's "replacements", the deficit would have disappeared by the end of his presidency. The tradition remains to blame the president when these things happen, though, and to say the current liberal Republican did much to improve things is as foolish as it would be to say the same of his predecessor. Despite his powerful message, Ronald Reagan would have never been allowed to run in today's Republican Party.
Republican presidents do not champion "small government" in practice because it is not the current federal paradigm. Even during the "Contract with America" period, Republicans such as Newt Gingrich were accepting large amounts of federal dollars for his district.

In short, "conservatives" are just as [quick] to spend taxpayer money when it suites them.
Correction: REPUPBLICANS are just as quick ... Conservatives do their best to stand in their way. Newt Gingrich a conservative? Please. If you had any questions as to his liberal tendencies, maybe you should be reminded of the commercials he made on the couch with Nancy Pelosi helping along Al Gore's global warming hoax.
3. Some fiscal conservatives are fleeing the Republican party, partially due to the social conservatives. There is nothing to suggest that fiscal conservatism has to be tied to the hips of social conservatism. Especially since, in my opinion, social conservatives will sometimes support Big Government to enforce their social positions, ala the War on Drugs, demonstrating a hypocrisy in their position.

Other areas, such as the military budget, become a Holy Cow and immune from criticism of deficit spending.
Military spending (in general) is explicitly authorized by the Constitution, and should be immune from criticism. Eliminating the deficit should be accomplished by reducing or eliminating spending in other areas. I do not support the War on Drugs. This was the only major point of disagreement I had with the candidate I supported in this election.

Conservatives are leaving the party not because of the social conservatives, but because of the liberalism that the Republican Party has come to espouse. Case in point: ME. While I agree that there is nothing to suggest that fiscal conservatism absolutely must go hand in hand with social conservatism, it is clearly undeniable that they currently DO go hand in hand. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying it IS (and agreeing with Hawk).
4. Actually, the GOP position on illegal immigration has hurt the party, since some folks on the Right tend to intersperse their racial views with this issue.

It probably does not help that Hispanics, while sometimes having socially religious positions (even though their Catholicism is sometimes rejected by American Christians), there is a trend in Hispanic Leftist politics.
McCain's position on illegal aliens definitely hurt his election bid, since it was the same as Obama's. Remember, if the Republican you are voting for is just going to be a Democrat when he gets to Washington, then you might as well just vote for the Democrat and be done with it. You are either for keeping illegals out or you aren't. Race has nothing to do with it.
5. I believe conservatives need a new media. Outside of "preaching to the choir," do you really believe the average American pays attention to Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, or Rush Limbaugh?
The average American does pay attention to all of the above, or at a minimum is in agreement with the majority of their positions. If this were not the case, they would not be doing as well as they are, and Obama wouldn't be so adamant about implementing the "Fairness Doctrine".
Contrary to that, the Heritage Foundation, for example, is an example of real thoughtful *true* conservative discussion.
While I agree that Heritage does some great work, I still haven't seen one shred of evidence to suggest they're not in the back pocket of the Republican Party. I have regular email exchanges with them, actually, and all manner of suggestions as to how they could better educate Americans as to their options with regard to political parties have fallen on deaf ears. Never mind my silly little Federalist platform, which would go a long way in uniting conservatives across this great country. Tell us more about the Libertarian, Constitution, AIP, and Conservative Parties - you know, the ones that are already well-established. Educate America as to where each party stands on each issue. And why not bring them all together under one banner? At worst, it will teach the Republicans a lesson. At best, it will save America from the socialist onslaught she has faced over the last hundred years, and which has intensified over the last forty.
I do not believe conservatives will win without the GOP, because there are simply too many different factions. And not only that, but there is not a consistent "conservative" platform. Just talking about small government isn't enough in this day and age - there has to be some sort of consistent conservative ideology, or it just seems insincere phony, which will not attract any new voters.
There is too. Why don't you help spread the word? I saved Baculus's initial question from this comment for last here
I am curious - what kind of "conservatism" do you support? It is odd to see folks on the Right suddenly interested in the Constitution, outside of the Second Amendment.
It is the Right's support of the Constitution that attracted me to its philosophy, Baculus. From the very beginnings of the RWRepublic, I have stood firm on Constitutional principles. The platforms of the Constitution Party (social conservatives) and the Libertarian Party (fiscal/all-out-freedom conservatives) both heavily emphasize the Constitution. I voted Republican because I believed that they were the major party more likely to pay attention to this important document. I was wrong, but for that there's no consequence other than being forced to vote for other candidates when the Republican Party falls short, as happened in this recent election. Your answer is that I support "Constitutional" conservatism.

Baculus commented again later, possibly to clarify where he was coming from. I think he falls into the trap of looking at Republicans as if they were the conservatives in the country rather than looking at the big picture and seeing that they aren't conservative at all. Yes, there are some very good conservatives within their ranks, but if a tangible opportunity to support a party or candidate that truly reflected their views came along, they'd be leaving the party in droves. Since the powerful within the party have decided they can do just fine without conservatives, that's exactly what I think should be happening. You don't need us? Fine. Later days. I'm loyal to a belief system and its corresponding ideology (which includes the Constitution), not a political party. If people don't come with me, then they reap what they sow. I vote for conservatives, and if the Republican Party won't give me a conservative to vote for, then they will have to try and win without me. End of statement.
The virulent hatred I see from the Right, for liberalism and Liberals, is a self-defeating philosophy to a certain extent, IMO, unless one can highlight the effective differences between the parties, and demonstrate something that can be offered to the American public.
Whie I do hate liberalism, I do NOT hate liberals. Some of the nutties liberals I know are part of my own family. See any references I make to my "nutty cousin", for example. The problem with what Baculus is advocating here is that he's again assuming that Republicans can rightly call themselves conservative. They cannot. The flaw is that there IS NO EFFECTIVE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PARTIES - that's why the Republicans lost. If you're going to be stuck with a liberal, you might as well vote for the one that's offering you the most goodies, even if you know he can't deliver. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans demonstrated anything worth offering to the American public once the primaries were over.
I completely agree that all conservatives aren't the same, which is why an alliance involving all of these conservative categories may be difficult. But, it has to be further recognized that all liberals, and folks, on the Left, are not the same, either.
While the libs on the Left may not be the same person, they ARE expected to show a unified front against anyone who wishes to stand against their candidates or their socialist ideas. Look at how nice the liberal media was to John McCain, for example, until he became the Republican nominee, and how quickly they went back to that after he ceded the election. Happy that he had been defeated for standing up to their candidate (his ideas were nearly identical), they went back to kissing his leftist ass like they always had.

As far as it being difficult to unify conservatives under one banner is concerned, you would be well-reminded that it was difficult to beat back the British in the 18th Century. It was difficult to beat back Hitler and the Japanese in the 20th Century. It was difficult to beat back the Taliban and Hussein in the 21st Century. But it was done. It was done because the survival of our Republic depended on it. I believe that we have come to a point where the survival of conservatism and of the very freedoms we hold dear are in danger because of liberals in both major parties. If the Republicans don't want to stand up for the Constitution, then the rest of us will have to do it, and somehow find a way to win. Unifying under one banner will be necessary if we are to succeed. Otherwise, we're stuck with liberals, unless somehow the conservatives can take over the Republican Party. Given their current rhetoric, I'll take my chances elsewhere.
In all honesty, I do approach this discussion with a more libertarian position in mind, just so you understand my POV.
I'm very glad that Baculus brought this to the fore, as it gave me a better understanding of how to address the things he had brough up. If he's truly coming from a Libertarian perspective, then he's obviously more friend than he'll ever be foe, and treating him like a troll would be unbecoming of a like-minded conservative.

I would strongly recommend that Baculus take some time to read the posts I've put up over the last three-and-a-half years. He may find what he sees quite interesting, as well as refreshing - especially if he loves the Constitution. Perhaps he can participate in our debate, and even in the Clue-batting of our occasional trolls.

Welcome, Baculus.