Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The (re)Birth of the Conservative

Tony Blankley -
"With the rise to enduring power of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in 1933, a new type of Republican emerged in reaction to FDR's attractive and overawing power: the me-too Republican. Until the election of President Reagan five decades later, these me-too Republicans supported, rather than opposed, Democratic Party policies but claimed they would administer them better. Of course, this led to a half-century of Democratic dominance of American government and politics."

I cannot vouch for the genuineness of Blankeley's quoting of FDR, below, but it is among the best summaries I've ever seen of Nixon's politics, shorn of its anti-communist hysteria and Southern Strategy racism.
"FDR himself cruelly mocked this pathetic breed of spineless, protect-your-career-at-any-cost Republican politicians:
'Let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion which says: 'Of course we believe all these things. We believe in Social Security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them; we will do more of them; we will do them better; and best of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.''

Here's the good part, though -- the projection forward of the Republican politics of the next few years.
Sarah Palin . . . will be among the leaders of the about-to-be-reborn conservative movement. I suspect that the conservative movement we start rebuilding on the ashes of Nov. 4 . . . will have little use for overwritten, over-delicate commentary. The new movement will be plain-spoken and socially networked up from the Interneted streets, suburbs and small towns of America. It certainly will not listen very attentively to those conservatives who idolatrize Obama and collaborate in heralding his arrival. . . .

The new conservative movement will be facing a political opponent that will reveal itself soon to be both multiculturalist and Eurosocialist. We will be engaged in a struggle to the political death for the soul of the country. As I did at the beginning of and throughout the Buckley/Goldwater/Reagan/Gingrich conservative movement, I will try to lend my hand. I certainly will do what I can to make it a big-tent conservative movement. But just as it does in every great cause, one question has to be answered correctly: Whose side are you on, comrade?

Obama's campaign, from its very beginnings, has played a strategically brilliant game, targeting that slice of rational, reality-based, secular conservatives, who were most repulsed by Bush, and by the descent of the Republican Party into the hands of religious reactionaries. The Party of Gerald Ford and Bob Dole, of Kevin Phillips and Colin Powell, has been alienated from the GOP. And, that is a major reason that Obama will win, and the Democrats will win Congress, where Gore and Kerry could not win, and the Democrats could not achieve a working majority in Congress after 1994.

And, it is a major reason, why the swing away from the Democrats after Nov 4 will be slow and muted. Tony Blankeley tells us why the secular Republicans will not be rejoining their Party any time soon: they will not be welcome.

The Republicans, after Nov 4, should be blaming Sarah Palin and "the base" of religious reactionaries, who required McCain to ruin his own brand in a series of awkward flip-flops and betrayals. That's what the polls will show. But, mostly, they won't. They will be busily "forgetting" that George W. Bush ever existed, or was ever their wetdream come alive, of a decisive President. And, they will blame McCain, who represents Republican moderation, to the Republican Right. The Republican Party that was ruthlessly pursuing a "permanent majority" will busy itself pursuing "permanent minority" status. The internal dynamics of collapse and defeat will make it difficult to rebuild the Republican brand and coalition.

The secularists will want to go back, but will do so, only if they are handed control. And, they won't. On the other side -- the right-wing reactionary side -- the Republican Right will have largely lost in this election the decisive asset built by Rove and talk radio: the base of authoritarian voters, who didn't vote before, but who turned out in 2000 and 2004 in record numbers. They are not voting this time, Palin notwithstanding. This is obvious in the early voting in Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. (Obama is up only 5% in Colorado in the public opinion polls, a State with a large number of these authoritarian, religious-right voters, but McCain's campaign is already giving up; early voting is telling the tale.)

The Republican coalition has broken.

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