Friday, March 19, 2010
Where Have You Gone, Barry Goldwater?
Unfortunately for conservative intellectuals in the US, their movement has been co-opted by bigots. Conservative Americans (like Goldwater) used to believe that people's private lives and private decisions were (shockingly) private. The idea of imposing moral ideologies on all members of society based on the religious views of a few, or even the majority, is not a "conservative" idea since it involves the government imposing on purely private behavior. But starting with Ronald Reagan, American conservatives made an ironic deal with "the devil." And the problem with making a deal with the devil is eventually, he wants his due.
Starting with Reagan, the GOP began courting the many splintered groups of Christian evangelicals. They started publicly opposing abortion, and adopted fiery rhetoric: abortion = "murder;" single mothers = "irresponsible welfare abusers;" political opponents = "unpatriotic;" favoring diplomacy = "weak and liberal." You get the gist.
At its foundation, the christian evangelical movement is united by shared conservative, fundamentalist religious beliefs. They believe they are right, and everyone else is wrong. They also believe everyone else is going to hell. But they have other things in common. (And I am going with generalize here, because people are judged by the company they keep.) They tend to be racist, homophobic, anti-immigration, anti-science, and lately we learned, they also tend to be secessionists. So when this becomes the base of your conservative political party, what do you do?
Well, the GOP: elects morons (Palin, W,Bachman, and a whole slew of people who think God literally created the entire universe in 6 days); tramples the constitution and basic human rights (detaining so-called terror suspects for years without trial or legal counsel, spying on American citizens without warrants, torturing people); explodes the national debt and budget deficits (fighting wars that are not paid for
and cutting taxes for the richest Americans while not funding education programs); and I could go on. Do I need to?
Well, now those good right-wing Christians, who are so easy to whip into a lather, demand to see President Obama's birth certificate. (Here it is, BTW. It's on the internet in about a bazillion places.) They are stockpiling guns despite the fact that Obama has made no move to restrict either weapons or ammunition. They believe our federal government wants to murder them through an elaborate health care system. They think Obama is Hitler, Stalin, the Anti-Christ, and a sleeper Muslim terrorist born in Kenya, all at the same time. I know humans have complex brains, but I cannot comprehend how these folks can simultaneously believe so many completely contradictory things. Nor do I understand how they can accuse "liberals" of being "unpatriotic," when they are ready (and threatening) to secede and "rise again" in another civil war. Doesn't that make them unpatriotic?
Conservatives got in bed with these frigid prudes, and now they are going to have to marry them. Yup. The party of Lincoln is full of confederate-flag waving bigots because that's what they asked for. The GOP has convinced them that they are the only "real Americans." That they are somehow entitled to have their point of view imposed on people despite the fact that we supposedly live in a free society. And now that they have infested the party of abolition, they are not leaving. Not really. Don't be fooled by the Tea Baggers. You can see the GOP daily begging these fringy fools to come back into the fold.
So having fomented revolutionary thoughts and bigoted hatred, what is the GOP going to do with its members? Is it going to give them what they want? Is it going to kick Obama out of the White House despite his natural citizenship? Is it going to lock him up in Gitmo and torture him 'til he confesses to being a terrorist? Is it going to really take evolution education out of public schools and replace it with creationism? Is it even going to try to do these things? I want to say "of course not," but the patients have so taken control of the asylum, that I'm a little worried.
My question is: Can the GOP find a true conservative to lead it? Is there one left?