How We Got Here (2)
The Conservative Right
The primary source of confusion within the conservative movement has been just what to conserve. The inability of conservative politicians to answer this question within the bounds of successful politics created deep antipathy between themselves and those whom they presume to represent. The consequent disgust and distrust has risen over the years to the point that conservative politicians sometimes appear to have disowned their voters, and the voters have disassociated themselves from the politicians. That this was allowed to happen is one of the greatest feats of political madness in my living memory.
Where to start? Were this a less contemporary meditation I’d go way back to 1990 when President George H. W. Bush broke his solemn promise of “read my lips: no new taxes!” Rather I’ll begin with his son, President George W. Bush. Mr. Bush ran for President in 2000 on the slogan of “compassionate conservatism.” It was only after his election that we found out that “compassionate” meant:
- Signing into law the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill that substantially diminished the freedom most necessary for a healthy republic, that being political speech
- Prosecuted a war in Iraq that a majority of citizens came to believe was an utter failure
- Continued the increase in governmental spending that was in indifferentiable from that of a progressive leftist
- Enthusiastic support for a “comprehensive immigration bill” that was supported by the business community and the Republican donor class but that was anathema to a majority of citizens
- Refused to defend himself, his administration or his philosophy from vile assaults by the political opposition
- Standing idly by, or even encouraging (i.e., easy loans to bolster home ownership) government policies that caused the 2008 financial crisis.
When Mr. Bush left office in 2009 he had managed to utterly discredit the conservative political philosophy, thus paving the way for a disasterous experiment in progressive leftist rule.
In 2008 a demoralized Republican Party managed to nominate for President the man least able to challenge the ideology and policies of the Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama. That man was Senator John McCain. Here we had a man who had sought to gain favor with the Mainstream Media as a “maverick” by gleefully and sometimes savagely attacking more conservative members of his own party. He was a champion of “bi-partsianship,” which in practice meant caving to the progressive left on core issues such as freedom of speech and illegal immigration. Finally, he was one of the most “hawkish” national politicians at a time of extreme war-wariness in the nation. None of this created much enthusiasm in the Republican base or in the general population.
And, just as with George W. Bush before him, his bi-partsianship counted for less than nothing when confronting the Democratic machine. All of his former “friends” in the Mainstream Media turned on him once the candidates were in place. He could not draw credible, clear distinctions with the ideology or policies of the most leftist Presidential candidate in American history because he didn’t appear to have a philosophy other than pragmatism. He wasn’t trusted in judgement, temperament or philosophy by a large portion of the Republican base.
Perhaps no-one could have beaten Senator Obama. However a political party picking the candidate least likely to, when his deficiencies were clearly apparent, can only be judged as terrible political malpractice. And so, after the 2008 election Barack Obama was President and the Democrats held large majorities in both the House and Senate.
The Republican Party had utterly failed to earn the respect of its opponents and the trust of those whom it presumed to represent. The only term that approaches the truth is “utter political debacle.”
Debacle Bonus Material: Trifecta Edition
- Win: The Bush family utterly confuses and discredits political Conservatism over three teams in the Presidency.
- Place: In 2008 the Republican Party nominates for President the man, John McCain, who is least able to oppose the Progressive Leftism of Barack Obama on principle, and, who is disliked and distrusted by a large segment of the GOP base.