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Can Conservatives Help Us Beat Bush?
October 4, 2003
By Rush Roberts

This may seem like a ridiculous notion, a grossly redundant abuse of my right to free speech. But before you begin browbeating me about the head and shoulders, hear me out. George W. Bush is beyond conservatism.

Oh, he (and from now on when I say ‘he’ I mean Karl Rove, the actual president) is perfectly content to call himself one in order to reap the Conservative Vote in America. But this administration has stuck about as closely to the traditionally core conservative values as Jerry Falwell follows the teachings of Jesus.

This is not pure conservatism, but some bizarre amalgamation blending unquenchable greed and disturbing Christian fundamentalism. They seem to want to combine the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments into their own simplified, “codified” version, a simple list of rules that everyone would have to follow or else face lifelong imprisonment with no chance for parole. The list might go something like this:

  1. Thou shalt not raise taxes on Fortune 500 Corporations, nor even keep them at the current level from year to year, no matter what the deficit is.
  2. Thou shalt feel obligated to own any gun thou wisheth.
  3. Thou shalt not be gay.
  4. Thou shalt not criticize any living president, former or serving, unless his last name begineth with the letter “C”.

And so an and so forth…

Conservatives, in the true sense of the word, have stood in the past for two major things: fiscal responsibility and a more hands-off, if not smaller form of government. And yet strangely in the past three years we have seen just the opposite. What are these strange doings?

Let’s talk money. Republicans are the party of money, right? Then how come they keep fouling the economy up every time they get in office? Oh I’ve heard the Clinton conspiracy theories on how he deliberately planted a time bomb in the economy so it would crash soon after he left office and make the Republicans look bad. Right. Like he was really expecting Gore to lose. Oh wait, he didn’t.

But that is a different story. Here we have a president who has taken a substantial surplus and turned it into an enormous deficit in less than three years. It is estimated that by the year 2031, if we keep spending at the current rate, that the deficit will reach $719 quadrillion. (Not an official estimate; Real number may be higher.) To put things in perspective, if you were to take 719 quadrillion blank U.S. Treasury checks and stack them on top of each other, the pile would reach all the way to Uranus, where Dick Cheney would be comfortably ensconced in a climate-controlled atmospheric dome with a Halliburton rubber-stamp.

But at least this government is staying out of people’s personal lives, right? Well, yes and no. If you consider giant conglomerate corporations to be the equivalent in terms of entities as a normal person, then yes, they are very hands-off. Yessir, in fact you might say that these entities practically write their own legislation. The idea that large companies can police themselves is a noble one, but very naïve. It is about as hopeless a concept as Communism. There are some aspects of human nature that just don’t co-operate with absolute ideologies, and therefore we need the government to help us occasionally.

Enter the “PATRIOT Act”, perhaps the single-most intrusive piece of legislation ever developed. If ever an Act had been tailor-made to fit the description “invasion of privacy”, this is it. The government is keeping track of what books you check out at the library? This does not sound like small, hands-off government to me. It sounds like 1984. (The book, not the actual year. Reagan lacked the technology.) One would think that our resources would be better-spent fighting enemies abroad than trying to invent them at home, but apparently the Red Scare of the 1950’s was a lesson lacking in comprehension to some people. But while they’re at it, can’t they at least do something about upholding the 3rd Amendment? I don’t know about everyone else, but I am sick and goddamned tired of foreign soldiers knocking on my apartment door in the wee hours of the morning wanting to crash. And please don’t tell me that this one particular amendment is outdated and obsolete and needs to be changed. Impossible!

But, to get back on track, it is not surprising that there are many rumbles amongst the conservative community regarding this administration. Believe it or not, I know and interact with many, many REAL conservatives, and I find them to be very good human beings. And although I don’t necessarily agree with everything they believe in, we are able to communicate in a civil and intelligent manner. I can even understand their point of view on some issues. (Who wouldn’t want to pay fewer taxes, in a perfect world?) I even have some in the family, and I suspect that I used to be one briefly in the mid-1990’s, before I was old enough to vote. But that is neither here nor now.

What we are seeing these days on FoxNews, etc., more closely resembles nationalism than conservatism, and this amateur historian finds it a disturbing trend indeed. So what do we do?

The administration believes they have cleverly put themselves in a position that will render them immune to criticism, and in a way they are correct: they can only be attacked from the left, and the left is currently perceived as unpopular. However, there is a chink in the armor: they can be attacked from the middle, and the middle can cause a great deal more damage than the far left. When moderate Republicans begin attacking the GOP administration, it is a sure sign that they have gone too far. Hurrah for Senators McCain, Collins, Jeffords, and all others in Congress and nationwide for voting their conscience instead of following lockstep with the rest of the inmates who have somehow managed to take control of the asylum.

So what should the Democrats do? If they have any sense of history they will avoid another Dukakis or McGovern. If they have any sense of history, or any sense at all, they will choose a nominee that will be fully capable of beating Bush and Rove: a Centrist from the South. Take back the South and attract moderate and yes, even true conservative voters nationwide. Stop the madness. I realize that only 20% of the Democratic field fits this description, but that is plenty. Only 10% will get the nomination. And before the die-hard liberals attack me I hope they remember that Bill Clinton was a Southern Centrist given a snowball’s chance in hell and all he did was beat 12 years of incumbent Republicans.

I am one of those people who will vote Democratic next year even if the candidate is someone I don’t believe in, because I truly think we need a change of direction. However, there are those who won’t. They won’t vote for Bush, but they won’t vote at all. The party needs to unite, now more than ever. Vote. I’m just a voter, but right now it’s all I’ve got.

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