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SoDesuKa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 02:10 AM
Original message
The New Conservatism: Brainier and Less User Friendly
Edited on Wed Mar-24-10 02:13 AM by SoDesuKa
Genuine conservatives were appalled by what has passed for conservatism over the past two decades. They gritted their teeth while a group of thugs impersonated real conservatives. But now that the thugs have been emphatically defeated, conservatism will go back to its Burkean roots. It will have to, because the thugs have nothing left. Version 2.0 has been underway for some time, but the health care defeat will speed up development.

The new conservatism will be brainer and less user-friendly. Think Eric Cantor rather than John Boehner. Reagan managed to disguise the essential mean-spiritedness of thug conservatism, but it leapt out at you with guys like Cheney and Rove and McCain. I now believe these people are something of an anomaly. They came to power only because nobody stood up to them.

The health care debate showed today's conservatism as morally and intellectually bankrupt. In the final hours before the House vote, one Republican after another offered slogans instead of genuine arguments. I have to laugh when I read people like Jonah Goldberg grumble that Democrats' health care victory was achieved through backroom deals. This, from a guy who supported the Iraq War!

True conservatism is needed more than ever today. We deal with so many new challenges that fidelity to tradition is vital. Conservatives will have to pare down the team to those individuals who have something to contribute. David Frum, for example. But not Karl Rove or those jerks on Fox News.

edit: corrected a spelling error
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Hekate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 03:07 AM
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1. The Republican Party has spent the last 25-30 years cultivating & coddling the ignorant & fanatical
Edited on Wed Mar-24-10 03:09 AM by Hekate
... and calling them their "base." They turned "librul" into a dirty word. Those people will not go away so soon as all that, just because their usefulness has expired. They are full of rage that is still being stoked by FOX, Beck, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly -- they still have Sarah Palin, who is charismatic, sexy, and gets excited and flushed when she talks about violence (she has something in common with Bush Jr. in that way, except without the pedigree and family wealth).

What you may be mistaking for a resurgence of intellectual conservatism is the more thoughtful among them actually realizing that they have a tiger by the tail, and wondering how the hell they can get rid of it without being eaten.

They still are not anything Buckley would recognize as political brothers.


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SoDesuKa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 03:58 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Parties and Movements
You're correct about conservative intellectuals riding a tiger; no doubt about that. I draw a distinction between political philosophers and political practitioners. Bush and the thugs around him were not conservatives; they hijacked conservative terminology to pursue goals that true conservatives ought to have been appalled by.

Writers like Krauthammer, George Will, and some of the new ones in the National Review have run out of ideas. It was pathetic to watch Judd Gregg up on the Senate floor yesterday, trying to mount an argument. He was flopping around trying to remember talking points about freedom, God, destiny and the American spirit. At intervals other Republicans would join in, but collectively they sounded more like undergraduates than Senators.

The idea of conservatism as a popular movement is a conceit based on a strain of anti-intellectualism that's been part of America from the beginning. Reagan's theory of government reprised his role in Death Valley Days. It's finally catching up - America is dumb and sick and poor. Conservatives aren't meeting the challenge because they don't have anything. Today's headlines report that right wingers are filled with "rage." John McCain vows "zero cooperation" with the Democrats for the rest of the year.

My prediction is that real conservatism is going to disown not only the thugs but the apologists for them. They'll have to.

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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 04:21 AM
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3. I don't think the Cheney/Rove model of right wing bullies is a dying breed
I honestly put McCain, Huckabee, maybe a few others, in a separate category. I don't know much about Eric Cantor. They're conservatives, maybe even Burkean, whatever one means by that, who simply have adapted as all politicians do to their social environment. The milieu of US conservatism has always had a mean streak in it. Before Reagan there was Goldwater and before Goldwater there was Robert Taft... there's always some icon conservative who in the sepia tones of memory seems like a simply noble, gentle embodiment of conservative ideology lost among the current crop of go-backers.

How quickly we forget how mean spirited, how subliminally racist, the Goldwater of 1964 was because we all got a giggle out the 1980 Goldwater who said every good American ought to kick Jerry Falwell's ass. Whenever someone talks about how Ronald Reagan, regardless of his politics, lifted up the American spirit, or how he was a guy who'd go out for a beer with Tip O'Neil after the voting was over. I don't remember having my spirits lifted by him, no matter how many times Chris Matthews repeats that line. I always believed in America despite Ronald Reagan. I imagine if I was a Nicaraguan and someone in my family was killed by the terrorists Reagan had Oliver North fund through embezzlement, I'd have a harm time feeling warm and fuzzy over that one photo op Mr Reagan had with Mr O'Neil sipping a Michelob in a Georgetown bar, if that ever even happened.


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SoDesuKa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 04:20 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. No Need to Speak Truth to Power If You Can Speak Power to Power
I've been reflecting on what David Frum said about the health care victory. He said that the purpose of politics isn't to get elected, it's to get things done. According to Frum, the victory over conservatives is huge.

Frum's no friend of Democrats but he's onto something. We've grown up with Reagan, who was an extension of the 1950's. We've never seen a significant change in U.S. politics; it's always been more or less conservative. Clinton was not a liberal, and it's hard to say what Carter was. If Lyndon Johnson was domestically a liberal, his foreign policy was anything but.

We know from history that significant changes do occur in politics. There are Glorious Revolutions that follow sustained periods of darkness. My point here is that it's not unheard of that a political philosophy becomes exhausted and has loses its relevance. I'd say that "thug conservatism" has passed that point. It was pathetic to watch Judd Gregg trying to come up with a good reason to oppose badly needed health care reform.

Here's my point - ideas have power. A lack of ideas is weakness. When the Republicans nominated John McCain it was only because they didn't have anybody else. John McCain is a complete nobody. If by some fluke he'd been elected and died in office, the country would have been better off with Sarah Palin.

The health care victory was achieved with muscle politics, not with finesse or pleading or elegant arguments. The Democrats did it the way it had to be done. It's a big fucking deal.
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Kablooie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 04:28 AM
Response to Original message
4. Interesting. I think society works better with both liberal and conservative ideas ...
if both are intelligently thought out views and not blind prejudice and superstition.

To seriously consider ideas that you don't hold only makes your own stronger.
It helps to find weaknesses and errors in your own viewpoint. That holds for both sides.

There is no conservative voice like this today. It's all idiocy and paranoia.

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quaker bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-25-10 06:01 AM
Response to Original message
6. Conservative ideas
are not a problem. They are interesting to debate, and an alternate view on reality. The problem arises when people try to govern with them.

Conservative ideas were invented at a time when there were far fewer people, abundant land and natural resources, and the absence of mass corporate culture. The craftsmen and merchantile classes were the economic engine of society. My grandfather built houses, +/- working class houses, one at a time, by hand. When business was good, he had 3 or 4 guys working for him. When it was less good, he had a partner or worked on his own. He was not competing with Centex.

My grand uncle Leonard was a merchant who ran a general store for a little town. He had an apartment where he lived above the store. The store was like a micro Wal-mart, it had a little of everything: hardware, toys, washing machines, canned goods, produce, and a meat market. Because he was across the street from the firehouse, he was also chief of the volunteer fire department. This was mostly because he could get to the firehouse first. He lived just fine through his lifetime this way, but he was not competing with Target or Wal-Mart.

Curiously, both of their businesses, while in different cities many miles apart, were both literally located on "Main Street".

Their generation was the end of this era. As best as I know, most of my family of that generation voted for Reagan, because he was a "nice young man" to quote one of them. They were tough and self reliant for most of their lives, but in the end benefitted from medicare, medicaid, and social security. Why were they so self reliant? They came of age during the Great Depression, when that was pretty much your only option, and also because they could be self reliant successfully.

You can still find the occasional general store, just like my granduncle's, if you go to a sufficiently rural area. They do not survive long after the first mega retailer moves into the area. Small companies that hand build houses are still out there, but for the most part you would have to be fairly wealthy to purchase their product. The corporations own the "affordable" market segment.

From having met them, I can say that none of these folks were rocket scientists, none had a college degree in business (or anything else). They had some basic skills, simple integrity, and a willingness to work long hours. Lots of people still have that today, but this business model no longer works generally for the vast bulk of us. It does work for a few, in niche areas of business, but as a general model, it has failed.

The conservative notion has been to rebuild this sort of society. It is a reasonable goal on the surface as this would put life on a more human scale. The problem is that they vastly underestimate the task and do not understand the intense level of social engineering they would have to accomplish to reach the objective. It cannot be done with tax gimmicks, and messing with social safety nets is pointless as they did not cause the observed social change.

The conservative model could be a proper solution when applied in the right place under the right circumstances. The essential problem is that this is not the right place and the underlying circumstances are very poorly judged. Failed business models are not revived with tax incentives. It is like prescribing penicillin when the patient has cancer. Penicillin is a good medication in and of itself, but will not help in this case. Conservative ideas are not inherently bad ideas, they are simply and profoundly the wrong answer at this time.

You can no longer "go west young man" because people live there and the real estate is very expensive. The "20 mule team" days are over.

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