Why conservatism is dying – lack of ideas

A great article in the New Yorker, on why conservatism is dying. Not a hit-piece by Democrats; almost all of the people the author quotes are Republicans, and ones that we’ve heard of (Pat Robertson, David Frum, David Brooks). The consensus? The Republicans are “fucked” (their words, not mine).

Why? The Republicans don’t have any ideas to stand on. During the Cold War, conservatives opposed the spread of communism/socialism. (That work is done) They opposed government intrusion on people’s lives (completely and utterly abandoned when they sought the support of evangelicals). They supported limited government (which people don’t want anymore – most want the government to fix healthcare, immigration, etc – something that GW Bush, strangely enough, advocated – his non-defense spending was record-breaking too)

Sure, they are opposed to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, but so are the Democrats – they differ only in their “how”. And most would agree today that the latter’s carrot-and-stick, diplomacy-heavy approach would be more successful and less expensive than conservatives’ tendency to drop bombs and ask questions later.

So, recently, the Republicans have become an easily ridiculed caricature of a party – one that’s obsessed with “protecting Christian rights” (as if they were an oppressed minority) and bashing the Democrats – not with ideas of their own, mind you, but with childish scoffs and meaningless taunts that they hate America (while they support actions that recall North Korea more than the Land of the Free). Look at Rick Santorum, for example.

Despite the manipulative prowess of Republican operatives like Karl Rove, the fact that the emperor has no clothes is finally spreading. Republicans are being asked to put forth their own policy ideas to fix the problems of our country, or shut up. And guess what? They’re empty-handed and unoriginal.

We might be headed for a long Republican winter. A good thing, too, because if we think we’re fucked now, imagine another four years of rudderless navigation through increasingly stormy waters.

McCain, primed to do Viagra commercialsOne question: how far into an Obama presidency can we expect McCain to start doing commercials for Viagra?

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  1. In a world where votes win, the republicans are dependent upon the religious vote today because they have failed to progress as a party. It seems like the fear of splitting the religious votes has been the crack that keeps them from moving forward.

    In California there is a voice that supports a fiscally conservative monetary policy as well as a keep the government the hell out of my personal life attitude. Until Republicans get back to small government ideas. I’m out.

    Comment by PE — June 6, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  2. You’re right, and the article does mention the same thing – that there’s been an uneasy coalition of the religious-right with fiscal conservatives since the Nixon era, but GWB’s abandonment of fiscal responsibility has pissed off the latter.
    It’s going to take a trip back to the old kind of conservative, the “California conservative” type you mention, to reinvigorate the party.

    Comment by JM — June 6, 2008 @ 9:55 am

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