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August 12, 2014 4:54 PM What Digby Said

By Ed Kilgore

I can’t believe I missed Heather Digby Parton’s piece at Salon yesterday that shares and certainly improves on my emerging theory of the Big Dynamics of conservative ideology, including the ominous nature of “constitutional conservatism.” But I did. You shouldn’t. Here’s an excerpt:

The fight within the GOP, to the extent there really is one, is over strategy and tactics not goals. As much as it pleases some Village wags to think there still exists a moderate GOP that wants nothing more than to knock back scotch and sodas at the end of a long day of bipartisan horse trading just like Tip and Ronnie supposedly used to do, it doesn’t. And while it also pleases some liberals to think that there exists a genuine populist impulse on the right wing that can make common cause with Democrats, I’m afraid they too are whistling past the graveyard.
The right is organized, both philosophically and institutionally as an enemy of New Deal liberalism. There may very well be discrete issues in which a few of the libertarian types can make common cause with Democrats on civil liberties, and it’s always possible that the party may find it’s useful from time to time to pretend to care about Big Banks as much as Big Government. But history suggests that conservatives’ righteous opposition to anything lies more in who they are opposing than in what.

And then this about “constitutional conservatism:”

This is the ideological undercurrent that feeds the Glenn Beck cult and the gun proliferation zealots. It’s what makes Cliven Bundy a hero, however briefly. It too has been around for a long time, but until recently it was confined to the fever swamps around fringy characters like the Christian Reconstructionist Howard Philips and the Constitution Party. Any guess whose famous daddy has been consorting with those fine fellows going way back? That’s right, the great transpartisan hope, Rand Paul. Kilgore is right to be concerned about this strain. As he says, the sad little club of dupes known as the Tea Party isn’t really the problem. But this might be.

At Hullabaloo today, Digby adds another pungent comment about Rand Paul and other libertarians and what really seems to make them tick, after noting Paul’s association with the “personhood” movement:

[T]he line between theocrats and libertarian Republicans is very, very faint. Why do you think they’ve bastardized the concept of “Religious Liberty” to mean the right to inflict your religion on others? It appeals to people who fashion themselves as libertarians but really only care about their taxes, guns and weed. Those are the non-negotiable items. Everything else is on offer.

“The line between theocrats and libertarian Republicans is very, very faint.” I think that’s a fair characterization, but it’s one that will blow the minds not only of libertarians but of the MSM folk who have sorted these people into diametrically opposed boxes. But having their minds blown will be good for them.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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