Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 22, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

ACTUAL EXISTING CONSERVATISM....Jonah Goldberg responds to George Packer's New Yorker article, "The Fall of Conservatism":

I agree with most folks quoted as saying that the GOP is in deep trouble and that conservatism is something of a mess these days as well. But for Packer, these terms — conservative and Republican — sometimes seem like interchangeable terms, while for me they are not. I think this may be one of the reasons why I thought the piece was so structurally flawed. He begins by arguing, asserting really, that conservatism begins with Nixon in the late 1960s, when Tricky Dick crafted a strategy of exploiting resentments, which any student of intellectual conservatism knows is simply wrong. Nixon did not like or trust the Buckleyites and the Buckleyites were hardly wild about Dick either. This fact should help one keep in mind that treating conservatism and the modern GOP as interchangeable is an analytical error of the first order.

I hear this a lot, and I get the reasoning behind it. Obviously "conservatism" isn't identical to "Republicanism," and just as obviously it's a good PR move to emphasize this in an era when the Republican brand is increasingly toxic. Still, conservatives protest too much.

No political ideology lives in isolation. We judge communism by how Mao and Stalin implemented it, we judge 60s-era liberalism by how LBJ and the Democratic Party implemented it, and we judge social democracy by how Western Europe has implemented it. That's how you judge movements: by how their real-life adherents put them into practice, not by reference to a utopian vision of how they should be implemented if only we lived in the best of all possible worlds.

Nonetheless, now that the Republican Party has been brought low, an awful lot of conservatives are jumping ship, claiming that it really doesn't represent them at all. But look: when the GOP made common cause with evangelical extremists, conservatives cheered. When the GOP accepted Grover Norquist's tax jihad as sacred writ, conservatives cheered. When Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay all but declared the GOP the party of corporate welfare, conservatives cheered. When George Bush declared war on the Middle East, conservatives cheered. Somehow Burke never really entered the discussion. But now that it turns out these positions have been pretty much played out, Burke is back in and Karl Rove is out. That's just a little too convenient.

Of course, conservatives point elsewhere, to the rise of pork and the rise of corruption and the rise of government spending, as signs that the GOP is no longer a true conservative party. But pork has been part of politics since politics was invented, corruption has nothing to do with ideology, and discretionary domestic spending hasn't gone up that much. The real problem is that people have gotten tired of war, they've gotten tired of the relentless and cynical defense of economic privilege, they've gotten tired of a refusal to even attempt solutions of real-life problems, and they've gotten tired of preachers banging on endlessly about abortion and teh gay. But these are all things that, in real life, the conservative movement and the Republican Party agree on.

A Republican Party that was more competent, more honest, and more principled would obviously also be more popular. And certainly there's room on the margin to complain about the modern GOP's conservative bona fides (Medicare, spending, immigration, etc.). Still, on the big issues the Republican Party is pretty damn conservative, at least as actual existing modern conservatism is practiced — and after 30 years of putting it into practice it turns out that actual existing modern conservatism doesn't have much appeal left. That's the problem, not the fact that George Packer pays more attention to Nixon than Buckley.

Kevin Drum 3:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (78)

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Comments

Burke? Edmund Burke? I've read Edmund Burke, and modern conservatives are no Edmund Burke. Remember, Burke was:

A reformer who reduced the prerogatives of the English king.

An anti-imperialist who led the impeachment battle against Warren Hastings, for his administration of the East India Company.

On the side of the colonists in the Revolution.

An empiricist who was opposed--very strongly opposed--to unified field theories of How The World Works.

Okay, he was opposed to the French Revolution. As Chou En-Lai said, it's too early to assess this.

If you are looking for respectable intellectual antecedents to the modern conservative movement, I recommend de Maistre. Scary stuff--the Grand Inquisitor. No warm and fuzzies in him. Russell Kirk went to great lengths not to mention him.

Posted by: Joe S. on May 22, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pace William Buckley, have his recently-minted admirers ever read God and Man at Yale, the first book he published? It is a relentless attack on the godless liberal weak-kneed soft-on-Communism professors at that famous institution. A surprisingly Rovian diatribe for someone who was later considered quite civilized.

Posted by: troglodyte on May 22, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'm finding "Before the Storm" to be entertaining (could have used some editing -- I just don't need all the back stories of so many minor players) and enlightening.

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on May 22, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

@Jasper.

Tentatively agreed. I would say let's win a major liberal policy victory, at least one, before we start taking victory laps. There are too many bigots and xenophobes willing to cast a vote on a single issue to get comfortable yet.

Posted by: Mark r on May 22, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

If you focus on Nixon, then Goldberg has a point. If you focus on Bush, however, Goldberg's point falls by the wayside. The Conservative Movement jumped on the Bush Bandwagon early on, enthusiastically supporting his campaigns against McCain and Gore. They did not make an issue out of immigration, which was very low on their list of priorities, until the economy stalled and Bush's popularity started dropping. Bush has supported the Conservatives time after time, giving them the appointments they wanted (and withdrawing Miers once it became clear that she was unacceptable to Conservatives) and allowing his Administration to be run by their hero Dick Cheney.

Conservatives, you have lost. It is time to admit defeat and apologize for the pain and suffering you have caused. History will remember you as better than Hitler and Stalin, but worse than Jimmy Carter and Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon.

Posted by: reino on May 22, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Let me get this straight; Ralph Wiggims Goldberg complains that for Packer, these terms — conservative and Republican — sometimes seem like interchangeable terms, while for me they are not.

Bwahahahaha...like republiCONS haven't been doing the same thing for years! I don't recall Wiggims complaining about it then.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on May 22, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yup. I wish I had a dollar for every time Goldberg has used "liberal" and "Democrat" interchangably. "An analytical error of the first order," indeed.

Posted by: Plymouth Rock on May 22, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

No no no. True Communism -- er, Conservativism -- has never been tried. The Soviets and Mau -- er, Republicans -- only implemented a botched, false, vulgar misinterpretation of Communisim -- I mean Conservatism.

Posted by: tom on May 22, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

well said.

Posted by: cleek on May 22, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who admits to be a conservative is also a hypocrite. Conservatives stand for anything unreasonable--basically like the Catholic Church only worse!
http://www.theidaexpress.com

Posted by: Ida on May 22, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who admits to be a conservative is also a hypocrite. Conservatives stand for anything unreasonable--basically like the Catholic Church only worse!
http://www.theidaexpress.com

Posted by: Ida on May 22, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Yep. This is similar to the argument (on a Disey discussion board, no less) that I had with a Republican who told me that Ann Coulter and her ilk don't represent all Republicans. Really? Well, where was the outrage from the Republicans over the past 16 years regarding the shenanigans of the people who showed up regularly on Fox news and the pages of the National Review and on various other wingnut outlets purporting to speak for Republicans? It was a laugh riot when John McCain was making fun of a 12 year-old Chelsea Clinton at a blacktie GOP fundraising event. Now that the Republican brand is in the toilet, it's not so easy to wash out the stain and get rid of the embarrassing odor, is it?

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on May 22, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"That's the problem"
Another one is that Goldberg draws a check from the LAT -- it's not even syndicated garbage. Between him and movie reviews on A1, Zell-ification isn't looking so hot.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on May 22, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg commits this 'analytical error of the first order' 31,435 times in his latest book.

Posted by: Jack H. on May 22, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

A Republican Party that was more competent, more honest, and more principled would obviously also be more popular.

But, when in power, the Republican Party can't be competent, honest, or principled - how could it enrich its cronies if it believed what it said?

Posted by: PeakVT on May 22, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

trodlodyte beat me to it. Buckley was an admirer of McCarthy and spent much of the 1960s trying to keep women and blacks from sullying Yale. American conservatism has always been closer to Rove than Burke, which might explain why it was so successful for so long.

Posted by: NHCt on May 22, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

after 30 years of putting it into practice it turns out that actual existing modern conservatism doesn't have much appeal left.

Kevin,

This doesn't make sense in light of posts you've written which show that self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals by a 3:2 margin.

If conservatism doesn't have much appeal left, then why do self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals?

Posted by: TangoMan on May 22, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

I would argue that what's in deep trouble right now is not so much the Republican Party, but conservatism itself. The part will retrench, regroup, and survive. Movement conservatism, as a governing philosophy, has been an unmitigated disaster.

Posted by: Rob Mac on May 22, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

The fundamental problem that Jonah misunderstands is that when it comes down to it, Republicans in power can't pass Conservative legislation because, at the end of the day, people don't really like Conservative legislation. Sure, they like tax cuts, but not the requsite spending cuts that need to go along with it. Small government sounds great in isolation, but ask people if they want to see Social Security slashed, toll roads built, less highway maintenance, reduced National Park services, etc..., and people say "now hold on there." The latest crop of GoOPers to disappoint the true conservatives discovered this as soon as they got into office and, in the interest of staying in office, tried to give everybody their cake and eat it too (Medicare prescription drug benefit with a side of tax cut, anyone?).

The real problem is that true conservative theory really isn't all that popular in application and outside of the think tanks.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on May 22, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

That's how you judge movements: by how their real-life adherents put them into practice, not by reference to a utopian vision of how they should be implemented if only we lived in the best of all possible worlds.

Homer: In theory, communism works. In theory.

Posted by: drjimcooper on May 22, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

So real conservatism is simply to be measured by anything Buckley has ever written? I haven't checked this out, but I'm assuming at one point he was a segregationist. Thus, real conservatives are segregationists....

As you note, it's all very well to say "these ideas that Republican administrations have been pushing aren't in synch with MY ideas" but if you vote for those people and campaign for them....well, you're just as responsible for what they do as they are.

Posted by: catherineD on May 22, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

drjimcooper on May 22, 2008 at 4:42 PM:

In theory, communism works. In theory.

If it wasn't for those meddling people and their faulty implementation...

Posted by: Karl Marx, channeling the creepy caretaker from Scooby-Doo on May 22, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

To reiterate what Jack H. said:

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin,

Kevin:

You are attempting to rebut an individual whose advancing a notion that one cannot conflate 'conservatism' with 'Republicanism.'

Whether this hypothesis holds much water or not is not an argument worth engaging in, particularly when the individual making it wasted a large number of trees advancing the hypothesis that liberals are essentially Nazis.

This is why I stopped reading centrist blogs, y'all spend an inordinate amount of time debating with people who essentially want to see y'all hung for treason.

Posted by: * on May 22, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I stopped reading centrist blogs, y'all spend an inordinate amount of time debating with people who essentially want to see y'all hung for treason.

* nails it.

Posted by: gregor on May 22, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

If conservatism means Manifest Destiny extended to Iran, then conservatism is dead.

The new order is accommodating the economy to smooth interactions in global trade.

We will accept Hauser's Law, the feds take 19% of the economy, nothing else, that seems to be the natural rate.

The issue will be rationality in government. The legislature needs to have a better relationship with wealth, major government programs will need more independence from the legislature.

The internet has destroyed myth making, henceforth action will be preceded by an ongoing policy discussion, and that internet discussion leads to investment patterns which end up determining the outcome.

Politicians will be hemmed in, central bankers rule, and trade agreements go forward, rich pay for all that government they purchased.

Posted by: Matt on May 22, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

When I was learning to write software, I amused myself by writing a BASIC program which randomly selected words and tried to string them into sentences.
Somehow, this project escaped the confines of my TRS-80 and launched itself out into the then-nascent internets. Who could have imagined how the little beastie would grow, reproduce and mutate, coming back to haunt us in the forms of Matt and Swan?

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it pretty much a given in a two party system like ours, that people of definite beliefs (be they conservative, liberal or something else), pretty much have to choose one of the two parties to advance their interests. Once that choice has been made, the chosen party may drift away from the desired actions -especially if it is a coalition of convenience of multiple interests. The cost of jumping (or switching ships) is large, and so they are prone to being dragged along in a direction they would not likely have chosen. Such seems to be the fate of todays conservatives, they stuck with a wrong track party for too long.

In any case if the Republican party does implode, which I think would be a healthy outcome for the country at this point, it won't be long before a new opposition party forms. Most likely it will call itself conservative, and democrats will call themselves liberals. Any party which has essentially unchallenged rule for any length of time will become hopelessly corrupt, so this process of creative destruction is to be encouraged.

Posted by: bigTom on May 22, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg? Who gives a shit what .Jonah Goldberg says.

Posted by: bjd on May 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, nobody could ever accuse Buckley of "exploiting resentments."

Posted by: DB on May 22, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

I espouse the "Die Hard" theory of the Cheney/Bush administration.

In the first Bruce Willis "Die Hard" movie, a high-rise corporate office building is invaded and occupied by radical ideological terrorists, who seize hostages and begin issuing demands to the FBI that their imprisoned terrorist colleagues be released from prisons all over the world, or else they'll start killing hostages.

However, it turns out that the occupiers are not actually terrorists at all. They are thieves masquerading as terrorists, and their demands have no purpose but to keep the FBI and the cops busy and confused, while the thieves break into the building's high-tech vault to steal millions of dollars in negotiable securities.

Similarly, the Cheney/Bush administration is actually an organized crime cartel, a gang of career white-collar crooks, masquerading as "neoconservative" ideologues in order to gain power and keep everyone confused with BS, while they loot the treasury and misuse the US military as their private mercenary army to wage wars of aggression for corrupt purposes of private financial gain.

Their only ideology is greed and corruption.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 22, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites -I amused myself by writing a BASIC program.

BASIC????!!!! Man you must be older than time itself. Did you also have to fill in cards? Punch or pencil?

Posted by: optical weenie on May 22, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

It reminds me of that tired old saying I last heard right before the Soviet Union fell apart, that there was nothing wrong with communism as a political ideology, but so far it had never worked because it had been put into practice by the wrong people, and as soon as the right people, came along and instituted a proper Marxist-Leninist state, it would work just fine. The problem with all political ideologies that require the right people is that political systems are full of politicians, who are imperfect and often have all sorts of ideologically impure thoughts--such as, I am all for truth and justice and all that, but what I really would like is to get re-elected.

Posted by: PureGuesswork on May 22, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie,

If you know what a punch card is, you shouldn't be calling people old. I'll be you know FORTRAN!

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

So the long term question is what will politics be like after the Repubican Party completes its death spiral. What will the U.S. be like as a one party state. What gorups inside the current Democratic Party gain or lose with the collapse of the Republican Party? What effect will all of the former Republicans have when they start voting in the Democratic primary.

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 22, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Whether this hypothesis holds much water or not is not an argument worth engaging in, particularly when the individual making it wasted a large number of trees advancing the hypothesis that liberals are essentially Nazis. Posted by: * on May 22, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg? Who gives a shit what .Jonah Goldberg says. Posted by: bjd on May 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

There really isn't anything else to be said about this.

Posted by: junebug on May 22, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Superdestroyer,

Actually bigTom answered that question pretty well at 5:46. We'll always have a two-party system. If the party that calls itself "Republican" collapses entirely, another conservative-type party will take its place.

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

The only time -- the ONLY time -- a conservative ever bothers to make a distinction between conservatism and "Republicanism" is to claim or suggest that all the screwed-up failures of conservatism are NOT the result of conservatism, but of Republicanism. If something is good, it's "true" conservatism. If it was a failure, it was the fault of those misguided Republicans who strayed from the "true faith."

Posted by: CN on May 22, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Don't write conservativism/Republicanism off by any means. There are far too many religious Americans afeared of taxes being raised and teh gay man to be rid of that closed-minded, tight cheeked party any time soon.

Fear is the base platform of the Republican party and GOP leadership is fully capable of exploiting it and will, come closer to November. Look at the percentage of people who STILL believe in the message of Bush? I live in Bush-land USA. He walks on water down here to these fine foke. Another just like him can very easily be voted in next, if the right fear buttons are pushed.

The mantra of taxes and gays, taxes and gays...

Signed,
Non-native vegetation in AL

Posted by: Zit on May 22, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

Posted by: bbbar on May 22, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say Kevin that this is one of your finest posts, because even though you're basically just talking common sense, I can't imagine anyone having expressed it better.

Posted by: Ricky B on May 22, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

The ideology of greed and corruption pertains to both the Republicans and Democrats, and perpetuates our duopoly political party system. Fuzzy ideologies like liberalism and conservatism are created to fool people into thinking there is a difference between the two so-called parties. Both Republicans and Democrats serve the interests of greed and corruption at all levels. Two of the big three Democratic presidential nomination contenders voted for the AUF. Most of the Democratic senators who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination voted to reduce bankruptcy protection to enrich the credit card corporations. Those votes for the AUF were rationalized as condescension to low information or 911 hysterical voters, but the votes for reducing bankruptcy protection had no such cover. They all assured Democratic voters during the nominating campaign they were progressives opposed to the greed and corruption of the opposition, yet many continue to vote against their party members' best interests and with the opposition party on many issues.

Until the voters respond to actual good works of politicians instead of their ideological facades, and reject party affiliation as a measure of electableness, greed and corruption will continue to be the ruling political ideology.

Posted by: Brojo on May 22, 2008 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Great post Kevin. America has swung way too far right and will now swing back left. But we've been moving right for 25 years. It's a long way back to the center.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on May 22, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

thersites,

However, the thesis of the post is that only big government, big spending political parties can survive So the question is why would the U.S need to have too big spending, big government political parties. Many state and most large urban area function as one party states. There is not reason to believe that the government cannot function as a one party state.

Since anything that calls itself a conservative party will have no chance of getting Hispanic, black, jewish, or most Asian votes. Any new conservative party will face exactly the same demographic problems as the current republican party.

Posted by: on May 22, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

As a political movement in the United States true conservatism was mortally woumded by the Great Depression and died when Sen. Robert Alfonso Taft succumbed to cancer in, I believe, 1955.
Even if they wouldn't initiate such programs as Social Security, Federal regulations, etc; a true conservative would keep them because they have proven themselves. The present Republican Party, however, has tied itself, not to conservatism, but rather to reactionary ideas tarted up as "conservative". And the voters, or enough of them, have finally gotten wise.

Posted by: Doug on May 22, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin.

You might challenge Goldberg and his fellow 'conservatives' to write a definition of conservatism. I would love to see it...

Posted by: global yokel on May 22, 2008 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Similarly, the Cheney/Bush administration is actually an organized crime cartel, a gang of career white-collar crooks, masquerading as "neoconservative" ideologues in order to gain power and keep everyone confused with BS, while they loot the treasury

Perhaps you don't understand that letting taxpayers keep more of their own money is not looting the treasury.

Liberals wanting to spend other people's money on their pet projects so that they can feel good about themselves for caring so deeply about issues is not really a gesture of compassion. If you let me empty your investment account I promise that I will spend it all on pet projects I find interesting. My spending your money on my projects doesn't make me a compassionate person.

what will politics be like after the Repubican Party completes its death spiral.

Never underestimate the ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

that closed-minded, tight cheeked party any time soon.

Why are you referring to Democrats in this discussion of Republicans?

Posted by: TangoMan on May 22, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan,
You were confused by the neoconservative BS. Let's accept, for the sake of argument, that your belief that lowering taxes for the wealthy is simply letting them keep their own money. This is not how they have looted the treasury. They have done so through corporate welfare schemes such as no-bid contracts for Halberton, a MediCare drug entitlement program that does not let the government negotiate for the price of the drugs, attempting to hand the Social Security trust fund to private investment bankers, etc. Lowering taxes on the wealthy is just their way of making sure that it will be the poor and middle class pay for it when the bill becomes due.

"If you let me empty your investment account I promise that I will spend it all on pet projects I find interesting." - This is precisely what the Bush administration has done to all of us.

"Never underestimate the ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory." - Sadly, I fear you may be exactly right on this one.

Posted by: Decnavda on May 22, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Appologies all around for the triple post.

Posted by: Decnavda on May 22, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course, conservatives point elsewhere, to the rise of pork and the rise of corruption and the rise of government spending, as signs that the GOP is no longer a true conservative party. But pork has been part of politics since politics was invented, corruption has nothing to do with ideology, and discretionary domestic spending hasn't gone up that much."

This is where the dispirited conservatives will disagree with you. Remember the K-Street Project was supposed to be part of a larger effort to defund the left - attacking foundations' illegal political activism, academia, unions, groups like ACORN or the ACLU, etc. In the conservative's worldview, Tom Delay sold the Republican birthright for a few rounds of golf in Scotland. After the purge this November it will be interesting to see what direction the survivors take.

Posted by: ex-Repub on May 22, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

destroyer (I presume): However, the thesis of the post is that only big government, big spending political parties can survive

We're already there. One of them spends the big money on weapons that we don't need and bailing out the large banks, the other wants to spend the big money on silly shit like infrastructure and bailing out homeowners. (Okay, I'm oversimplifying, and the second party is only a small fraction of how Democrats actually govern, but you see my point.)

But nationally there will always be two parties, no matter what they might call themselves. Even when the plutocratic coup-in-progress is complete there will be competition between the Harvard and and Yale factions of the oligarchy, and each will smile at the peons at election time.

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

I would love for Goldberg or any other self-professed conservative to point out any major contemporaneous disagreement with anything Bush did in his first term. It wasn't until Bush's unpopularity became undeniable that this rift between conservatism and Republicanism was ever noted.

As Bob Dylan said, you just want to be on the side that's winning.

Posted by: Boots Day on May 22, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

The term 'conservative' has become a meaningless pejorative that the lefties can use to lump together the Jesus freaks, the liberal Zionist Jews (neoconservatives), George Bush--the PC King of Spenders and Coyote-in-Chief, and so forth.

For the term to have any meaning today, it must be modified with a suitable prefix, e.g., paleo-conservative, fiscal conservative, Goldwater conservative, Nixon-moderate (not a conservative), Eisenhower me-too Republican, etc.

Posted by: Luther on May 22, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Really? an "awful lot of conservatives are jumping ship?" I guess I've missed that. What's an "awful lot" and what does "jumping ship" mean. If you mean some kind of principled stand that actually risks the enmity of the thugs at the Corner, beyond Sullivan, I don't see it. Cites please.

Posted by: dvr on May 22, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. I'd have to say that I agree with Goldberg. Republican does not equal conservatism just as Democrat, especially in these times, does not equal liberal.

Posted by: Jeff II on May 22, 2008 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

"on the big issues the Republican Party is pretty damn conservative, at least as actual existing modern conservatism is practiced"

...

WTF? Restated:

"The Republican Party has done what it has done, therefore it is what it is"

Thanks for the insight. Guess you were a conservative when you hem hawwed your way to supporting Bush's war on the Middle EAst.

Posted by: on May 23, 2008 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

thersites,

There is not reason to believe that there will be two political parties. Mass. and Maryland function as one party states. California is heading toward a one party state. NYC, chicago, LA, Philly, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, St Louis funciton as one party states.

For there to be two relevant political parties, they both have to have a chance to win enough to effect policy. The Republicans are getting to the point where they are so irrelevant that they cannot effect policy.

When more than half of Congress are Democrats who are in safe district, can you really say that the U.S has a two party system?

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 23, 2008 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

TangoMan wrote: "Perhaps you don't understand that letting taxpayers keep more of their own money is not looting the treasury."

You are exactly the sort of weak-minded, gullible dupe that falls for the fake, phony "conservative" BS of the Cheney/Bush crime cartel.

Their so-called "conservative" so-called "policies" have nothing to do with "letting taxpayers keep more of their own money" and everything to do with ripping off the taxpayers to enrich themselves and their already ultra-rich cronies and financial backers in the military-industrial-petroleum complex.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 23, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

superdestroyer: Mass. ... function[s] as one party state

Most of my neighbors here in the Boston suburbs would be surprised to hear that they're in a one-party state. Democrats are the majority statewide, yes, but it's not absolute by any means.

Massachusetts being what it is, MA Republicans are "Moderate" Repubs on the national stage. But they still go to the conventions, and they managed to get Mitt Romney elected.

But at this point the argument's getting tired.

Posted by: thersites on May 23, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

thersites,

The Democrats in the State Senate in Mass. have a 35-5 majority. The Democrats n the State House in Mass. have a 141-19 majority. The Republicans fielding a candidate in less than 30% of the races in 2008.

The Republicans party's performance does prove two things: That the U.S. can function as a one party state and that being the moderate/Democratic-lite party does not really help the situation.

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 23, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

weenie,

BASIC????!!!! Man you must be older than time itself. Did you also have to fill in cards? Punch or pencil?

This is a nice try, really. Unfortunately as thersites pointed out BASIC came into popularity with PCs starting in '78.

Punched cards started earlier and I myself actually "saved" a few programs on paper tape of all things in the late 60's.

Back then we had to edit programs with a scissors and scotch tape. "Cut" and "paste" were literal words then.

Ah, the old 1055 in the back room of Crown HS - I wonder where it is now?

Posted by: Tripp on May 23, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Superdestroyer,
Are you like 18 years old? You don't seem to understand that 1 party dominance in states and cities continually evolves. Same thing for federal government.

The republicans won congress overwhelmingly in 94 because the dems, having had been in for a looooong time, blew it - corruption scandals were abound, pork was rife, etc. Now the pendulum has swung - reps are losing because of corruption scandals, pork, etc.

We will always have 2 parties. We need to have someplace to go when 1 party's members get too big for their britches. It's life! It's democracy. Get used to it.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 23, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

To Tripp and Thersites,
I too must be older than time itself. In high school I filled out the cards with a pencil, and I started the programming phase of my life using FORTRAN.
Oh, it's raining here in the desert today and my bones are feeling it.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 23, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

O.W.,

The Democrats have been dominate in the large cities for 50 years. The repubicans do not even bother to campaign there. Do you really think that a conservative party will ever be able to be competative in Detroit. It would next several generations of demographic changes in the opposite direction of the current trends for that to happen.

Remember, demographics is destiny. The Demographic trends alone are enough to eliminate the Republican Party around 2030. The incompetence of the Bush Administration just sped up the process.

If a county in the U.S. where the public schools are less than 50% white and which votes for Republicans. Unless you can find such a place, the idea that the Republicans can survive is false.

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 23, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm, well I used an IBM 026 card puncher in college to program in FORTRAN when I first learned, so I guess maybe I'm merely AS old as time, not older.

Back on topic, I think it's important to make the distinction between "conservative" and "Conservative".

I dress conservatively, I spend money conservatively, I speak conservatively. I'm not eager to change things. Things like Social Security, the Constitution, the rule of law, the rules of the Senate that allow.

I don't think we should be jumping into wars of choice. It isn't worth it. That's all conservative, that's my temperament.

There are two things I want to change. First, I think we need to change the way we pay for medical care, it's a mess. Second, I want all of my friends who are in stable, committed, loving, long-term relationships to be able to marry.

But it's not Conservative. The Big-C Conservatives have coopted the word "conservative" to mean a radical agenda. It's not an agenda to keep things the same, it's an agenda to roll back everything that's been more or less working over the last 60-70 years.

Those Conservatives are willing to trample on traditions right and left when it doesn't suit their purpose. Such as completely rewriting a bill in conference committee, when it can't be filibustered. Such as shutting down judicial filibusters. Such as torturing. Such as compromising the independence of the DOJ. Such as spying on Americans.

Those were the acts of radicals, not conservatives. Eisenhower and Clinton were conservatives, going slow, not doing all that much, but making sure what you did was actually, you know, better.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on May 23, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

superdestroyer,
I wish you luck in your future adventures. Ah ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 23, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with Conservatism is not that it has failed; it is that it has never been tried. Or is that "Communism?" Or "Christianity?"

Posted by: CJColucci on May 23, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

O.W.

Starting in 1995, the Republicans had 230 seats in Congress. The Democrats, in 2007, have more than that and will pick up 20-30 more seats. There are over 125 Democrats running for reelection unopposed. Do you really think that the Republicans will ever be able to win those 125 seats or do you think that the number of uncontested seats will grow.

Once again, please identify a county where the public schools are less than 50% white and the county votes Republican in Senate and Houses elections. According to your theory, those counties exist. However, according to election results, they do not.

Posted by: superdestroyer on May 23, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie, Tripp --

I guess I'm the kid around here, eh? Y'all go drink some Geritol or something. I'll stay off the lawn.
Weenie was saying something last week about having to shovel some coal into the computer to get the hard disk up and running.

Superdestroyer,

You're right about big-cities being dominated by one party, but the conversation started out being about national parties. Weenie's right (gasp) parties evolve over time.

Posted by: thersites on May 23, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

CJColucci: The problem with Conservatism is not that it has failed; it is that it has never been tried. Or is that "Communism?" Or "Christianity?"
Exactly. Ideologies are always perfect. It's the damn people that are the problem, isn't it?

Posted by: thersites on May 23, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

As a question, 'Do you want a liberal amount of mayo or a conservative amount?', liberal and conservative mean 'more than normal' and 'less than normal' respectively. In politics, this also applies in some cases. Libs want expanded gov't. and more taxes. Cons want less gov't. and lower taxes. But these are just examples where the words fit. Liberals are the extreme side(left of center) of the democratic party, conservatives are the extreme side(right of center) of the republican party. Both polarize this country and neither side wants to unite us - they want to either convert us or get a majority and force laws upon us.
As an independent I have voted more Dem in General Elections and Repub locally. I want responsible Choice for women but abhor third term abortion. I want a very STRONG military but don't want the U.S to be the world police. I wish I had a choice in how my hard earned taxes were spent, wish budgets were responsible as they have to be in families and businesses. I wish compromise was used in Congress and the White House. I wish I could vote for QUALITY candidates, not ones chosen by media manipulation. If I had a penny for all my wishes, then I might have a plugged nickle. We need a new political party that is for the center or heart of the American people, not just the two extreme wings. Our American Eagle is powered by it's heart, assisted by both it's wings. If either wing was too dominant, the eagle would just fly in circles. WE, the people, seem to get right then left then right again then left, etc. Guess we will never learn.

As an independent voter, I could not vote for the candidate of my choice or have my FL delegate seated or even my vote being recognised. Viva the revolution is beginning to sound good.

Posted by: freeethinker on May 23, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

goldberg writes: "Nixon did not like or trust the Buckleyites and the Buckleyites were hardly wild about Dick either."

so? conservatives who dislike each other aren't really conservative? what sense does that make?

did buckley disagree with nixon over vietnam?
did buckley disagree with nixon's race-mongering?
please......

does current conservative "thought" resemble buckley more than nixon?

goldberg really is an idiot.

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 23, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

goldberg writes: "Nixon did not like or trust the Buckleyites and the Buckleyites were hardly wild about Dick either."

he really should spend a minute at google before writing this stuff.

from the american spectator's obit of buckley:
By 1968 he had trimmed back his conservative orthodoxy and actively counseled the Nixon campaign. He encouraged other conservatives to join the Nixon Administration. He held minor posts in the Administration. Through all the ideological backsliding of the Nixon years Bill stood by the president. In fact, he became more of a fixture in the Nixon Administration than he would become in the administration of his close personal friend, Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 23, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

In 1952, when Taft was running against Ike for the republican nomination, he referred to himself as a "moderate." That is because fifty-six years ago the word "conservative" was used pejoratively in political discourse. Sound familiar? Republicans did not like to call themselves "conservative" at that time in the same way over the past dozen years or so Democrats have been hesitant to call themselve "liberal."
BTW, forced to go one better on the new "moderate" Bob Taft, Ike referred to himself as a "liberal Republican." .

Posted by: PureGuesswork on May 23, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Ike was a liberal Republican, the South has many conservative Democrats. Why are our choices so polarized? In a bell curve, the end five percent on both sides is discounted as it represents the abnormalities of the extreme. The MONEY involved in politics seems to go to those extremes, not the centrists. In our primaries, the candidates cater to the extremes while in the general election, the same people do their doublespeak toward the middle. We need a viable third party of the middle to have compromise in government. Too bad that both current parties will not allow this as they make the rules. At least they agree on that issue.

Posted by: freeethinker on May 23, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

What do you expect from someone who writes a book entitled "Liberal Fascism?" An oxymoron, written by an actual moron

Posted by: R.T.Tihista on May 23, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's the damn people that are the problem, isn't it?

Which is why so many ideologies elminate useless eaters when they acquire state power.

Posted by: Brojo on May 23, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Paula on March 16, 2010 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

Set your own life time easier take the credit loans and all you want.

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