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Sunday, November 10, 2013

 

Is the Republican Party the party of Conservatives?

At National Review Online, Jim Geraghty asks the question: Does the RNC Deserve the Blame for Cuccinelli’s Loss? One of the comments following the essay claims that "all Republicans are Conservatives."
 
Are they?  I strongly disagree.

The national candidates that the Republicans have fielded since Reagan have all claimed to be conservative, talked the talk, but did not walk the walk. They paid lip service to smaller government and lower deficits but did nothing to achieve those objectives while in office, or were rejected at the polls.
 
I remind you that Bush 1 opposed Reagan for the nomination the first time he ran.  And that when he was elected as Reagan’s heir disposed of his followers as quickly as possible and then raised taxes, giving the Democrats their main talking point to defeat him for re-election.  Need I remind you that Bush 2, who I supported because I supported the Iraq war, created a whole new entitlement and was a profligate spender who created TARP? Both Bushes bought into the “Republicans are mean” myth, one creating those “thousand points of light” and the other trying to sell “kindler, gentler?”
 
And how about McCain who pandered to every liberal institution and movement that that he could find: amnesty, global warming, Gitmo. He was the MSM’s picture of the perfect Republican. Of course they only supported him until he was nominated. The only conservative thing he ever did was bring Sarah Palin onto his ticket. The same Sarah Palin whose back still shows the scars of McCain’s handlers’ knives.  It's hard to say who tried to damage Palin more during the 2008 election, Team McCain or Team Obama.
 
George Romney was a truly nice man; moral, upright and no one’s idea of a conservative. When he was questioned about his conservative credentials he said that he was “severely conservative.”  When you have to say that, you are not. He was chosen by the Republican establishment precisely because no one would really identify him as a genuine conservative. Rather, he was the competent alternative to Obama. How did that work out?

Did these people lie? Not in the same way Obama lied when he said that you could keep your health care plan. But they say what they want you to hear. There is a cultural gap between the Republican establishment and the conservative base. The establishment is more comfortable with the reigning orthodoxy as expressed by Obama and less comfortable with the pieties of the Right. Most of them probably agree with Obama about the “bitter clingers.” Most of them don’t really believe that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman; they have “evolved.” Most of them would rather open the borders so that this issue would go away. They have lived with deficit spending so long that it no longer really bothers them as a fact, simply as an issue to be used to win votes. They campaign as conservatives because that’s where their base is, but when they get back to Washington, they shed their conservative disguises like you would take off your jacket except when it’s time to throw a bone to the base.
 
It's very difficult to gain prominence while defying the dominant culture.  This is especially true on the political arena because you are opposed by those who dominate the avenues of communication.  If you say you support traditional marriage, the media tells everyone that you are homophobic.  If you oppose abortion for any reason you are waging a war on women.  If you oppose waste and corruption in welfare programs you are accused of wanting to starve the poor.  If you want to enforce the immigration laws you are accused of hating immigrants and minorities.  If you want to make education more affordable by reducing the cost you are accused of being anti-children.  And the ones making the accusations are not your political opponents, but the supposedly "impartial" media.  One of the interesting statistics coming out of the election in Virginia is that Ken Cuccinelli got the majority of married men and married women.  As one wag put it he got the moral vote.
 
The commenter is wrong about his assertion, but raises a very good question. Who is a real conservative and how can you tell? What is a real conservative? That’s a question worth debating.

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Comments:
Most (R)s claim conservatism on the basis of simply living a life of moderate habits for the most part, and that's it. The original politically conservative fusion was between libertarians and social conservatives based on the agreement "he who governs least governs best." Starting in the 70's ... leading to the so-called "compassionate conservative" brand ... the social cons starting doing conservative all wrong by embracing Big Gov (just not quite as big as Democrats). This is the present "schism" we are working out. By the way, I believe the ObamaCare debacle is the seed of a similar big gov / individual liberty schism to develop on the (D) side. So, by that light we are at the beginning of a great re-alignment. In a generation or so the party names may not even be the same, but there will be a party for European style social democracy (the remnants of (D) plus establishment GOP) and a party for individual liberty (original GOP libertarians + (D) liberals woken up by ObamaCare and the other statist abuses of this administration).
 
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