Ideological definitions on the right are fluctuating so wildly lately I am almost afraid to see where I am being pegged today. Having been drummed out of the party for my suspect committment to Obama hatred as well as my lack of enthusiasm for Rush worship, it has become something of an entertainment to discover where my critics are placing me on the ideological spectrum at any given point in time. It really doesn’t matter, I suppose, because the spite generated in my direction is usually illogical and not based on what I write or think but rather what some nitwit divines of my intent. Some of them need to undergo a high colonic and get rid of all that constipated spite welling up in their bowels else they will explode and make a smelly mess - something they are quite adept at doing without the benefit of colon cleansing.
Scatological humor aside, I am constantly amazed at the shifting definitions of who or what is a “good conservative” from people who themselves haven’t a clue of first principles and are especially ignorant of politics and governing. When you hit your knees tonight, you may thank God that none of these jamokes were present at the founding. Can you picture some of these purists at the Constitutional Convention? Holy Jesus, we’d still be operating under the Articles of Confederation - or worse.
“No compromise with that reprobate Hamilton, by God! And tell Madison he’s nothing but a squishy FINO (Federalist in Name Only)! How dare they compromise with those lickspittles from New Jersey to reach an agreement. Why do they always ignore what the Federalist base wants? They’re nothing but a bunch of elitists (Note: They were.). Not one red cent to elect any of them until they put up true Federalists for office.”
My broadly exaggerated point is that there would have been no Constitution without compromising closely held beliefs on the part of both sides. In fact, there is no governance without compromise as the Democrats are amply demonstrating these days in spades. The GOP may be the party of “no,” but that is only because none of their concerns about legislation are being taken into consideration. And, quite rightly, some issues cut so deeply as far as conservative principles are concerned that no compromise is possible. But on issues like health insurance and climate change, Republicans don’t even have a dog in the hunt to recommend changes that would both address the problems and be true to conservative principles. And that goes for legislation likely to be addressed down the line on education, trade, basic research, and social programs.
But these issues won’t be addressed by Republicans because it is believed that anyone who tries to cooperate with the Democrats gets nothing but the back of their hand and besides, those aren’t “conservative” issues anyway. No self respecting man of the right thinks about education in any way except by shouting at the top of their voice “Vouchers! Vouchers! Vouchers!” This mindless adherence to shallowness and closed minded arrogance leaves the political impression that Republicans don’t care about the concerns of ordinary voters - the overwhelming majority of whom are not as conservative as they are and are worried about their families and their jobs.
Case in point is the celebration by some conservatives that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is eschewing a run for president in 2012 by accepting President Obama’s invitation to serve as Ambassador to China.
Utah, if you are not familiar with the state, is the most Republican outpost in the nation, regularly racking up 65-70% majorities for GOP candidates in national races. Needless to say, no squishes need apply if you are going to run for statewide office in Utah.
But apparently, Huntsman just isn’t conservative enough for some on the right - especially those who have taken on the job of policing the Republican party and trying to marginalize or, if possible, destroy those they consider insufficiently wild eyed and committed to the “cause.”
To refer to Huntsman as anything but a conservative is an indication of just how far right conservative activists have lurched since the election. It’s as if the defeat at the hands of a radical liberal has driven the base mad and any deviation from their extraordinarily narrow definition of “conservative” is cause to cast the luckless perpetrator into the outer darkness.
Incredibly, many in the base have referred to Huntsman as a RINO. The governor of Utah - the most socially conservative state in the nation - has been branded an apostate because…well, he accepted stimulus monies from the federal government for one. And he supports civil unions for gays. And he has doubts that climate change is a crock. And most egregiously, he thinks that the GOP should stop pushing social issues front and center in every election. He doesn’t support gay marriage or abortion. His values are as right wing as any conservative’s outside of very right wing Utah.
Other than that, the guy is more conservative than Reagan (he’s a tiger as a tax cutter and spending hawk not to mention an innovator in shrinking the size of state government). But being a governor in a severe financial bind that threatens to disable government services in his state, he can’t afford to posture like House GOP members and make the easy call (easy politically) and refuse the monies. So he was grateful for the cash and despite his record and conservative bona fides, his pragmatism gets him called a RINO by many who obviously don’t even know what a conservative is if they think Huntsman isn’t good enough. (My guess is he is conservative enough for about 90% of the country - maybe more.)
And yet, here’s some reaction from the conservative base to his being named Ambassador to China and the fact that the job will cost him a shot in 2012:
With all the RINOs in the Republican Party, it’s good to see whenever one of them bails. Latest is Utah Governor Huntsman who’s takin the ambassadorship to China:
That’s why I’d prefer Obama to “take out” all the RINOs. If the ony people left are true conservatives–in the same genre as Ronald Reagan–then Obama may yet go the way of “Jimmy” Carter–out in 1 term.
Oba-mao shuttles another rino into a post where he can dictate to him. Another rino turns his back on the USA for perceived self-interest.
Governor Jon Huntsman, RINO-Utah, who earlier this year was introduced to South Carolina Republican leaders at a dinner hosted by Attorney General Henry McMaster, has won praise from the leading homosexual advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, for his support of civil unions. The liberal, Mormon Governor, who is expected to be a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is a close associate of John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Lest ye think that this is not a representative sample of what the base thinks of Huntsman, I suggest you simply Google up “Jon Huntsman RINO” and tell me if that belief isn’t widespread.
This is nuts. I know that there are many in the base who do not agree with that assessment but when so many are so quick to condemn a conservative for…what? Being a responsible governor? Believing that when Americans say they are sick of the devisiveness that social issues bring to the fore that a politician should listen to them? Having a different opion about gays than many in the base?
The battle is not between conservatives and moderates but between ideologues and pragmatists. When I am told I am not a good conservative because I think waterboarding is torture, one has to marvel at the mind that posits that notion. Since when does a conservative litmus test rest on whether one believes that a strict definition of the law should be applied in torture cases? Or is it just that you can’t be a good conservative unless you believe that inflicting pain on another human being is more than alright, that you also must believe they deserve worse?
Can you be a good conservative and not be a Christian? To many, no. Can you be a good conservative and believe in a government that must function in a 21st century industrialized democracy of 300 milion people and not some pie in the sky, radical “small government” paradise that no one can precisely define? Can you be a good conservative and believe that there’s more to environmental protection than opposing climate change, condemning the EPA’s very existence, and believing that environmental legislation and regulations should be written by business interests?
I could go on and on. The point being, there are conservative alternatives to liberal overreach on every issue congress will address. But as I mentioned earlier, the conservativebase doesn’t even want to make an effort to address the issues because even thinking about them is verboten. It makes you a RINO, or a “moderate,” or a “centrist,” if you see government as a sometime solution to problems and that Washington has a role to play in many areas that the states have either abrogated responsibility or refuse to address.
This attitude is so pronounced on the right that by the time these folks are done, the Republican party will truly be so insignificant that we will be 50 years trying to make our way back:
Too often, labeling one’s self as “centrist” is just the moral shorthand of saying, “I don’t care.” When asked about abortion, candidate Obama stated that questions about the beginning of life were above his pay grade. Translation: “I don’t care.”
I’m not calling Obama a centrist, he’s clearly not, but centrist do share with him a lack of moral conviction. Centrists avoid the hard work of forming opinions, preferring to let the “cool kids” tell them what they believe. Back to the subject of abortion, centrists will often say that they are personally opposed to it, but they are just okey dokey with other people killing babies. Translation: “If I answer, they’ll make me sit at the dork’s table in the cafeteria.”
If centrists have any credo at all it is, “let’s sit back and see how it all shakes out.” RS McCain points out more clearly than I ever could why cozying up to centrists is a loser’s game. Broken down, you can’t shape opinion by relying on people who have no interest in holding an opinion.
I debunked this nonsense here. But the ignorance is so ingrained that I fear equating pragmatism with unprincipled politics will be part of rote conservative dogma for the foreseeable future. Presently, the idealogues in the party have the upper hand in that they will make or break a candidate’s chances on election day. Pragmatists have no such power as will probably be proved when the last of them is tossed out into the cold for some apostasy real or imagined.
Will the last moderate conservative who leavese the Repubican party please turn off the lights?