Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sinners and Republicans

Jennifer Rubin wonders why it's so hard to get Republicans to behave like conservatives.

Just a thought: maybe it's because they aren't conservatives.

I've written about this before. The essential problem with fighting the liberals is philosophical unity: conservatism just doesn’t have it. Conservatism is not a cohesive philosophy the same way liberalism is. Liberalism’s charter is to bring cosmic justice to the world, and no less. Heaven on earth today, and don’t get in the way. This gives them an unlimited appetite for power; there is no logical stopping point. Nothing, from making you wear your seat belt to telling you your kid is too fat, is outside politics. Every institution — from the Constitution and the rule of law, to private property, the free market, the church, marriage, and the family — is an obstacle preventing liberals from grabbing all the power they crave. All institutions are under attack, at all times.

It never occurs to them that they do not have the knowledge, wisdom, or goodness to be God. Neither do conservatives, but conservatives tend to follow inspector Harry Callahan's advice: a man's got to know his limitations.

The term “conservative” is applied injudiciously to all those who oppose the liberal agenda, no matter what they believe, even if they only care about defending a single one from among all the institutions under assault. Each besieged institution has its own cadre of defenders. The church and the family are defended by the religious right. The libertarians and small businessmen defend private property and the free market. Big business fights regulation. Law & order conservatives defend the rule of law. Traditional conservatives defend the Constitution. And so forth. Most care very much about their pet institution, and care little about the pet institutions of their informal allies.

This causes two problems. The first problem is that each conservative faction feels no loyalty to the other factions. The libertarians don’t care for the religious right’s agenda, and are openly hostile to it. The strong national defense crowd doesn’t necessarily care if there are tariffs or over-regulation. The big business types don’t care about school choice (they can afford private schools for their own kids.)

The second problem is that, while the Democratic Party is the liberal party, there is no “conservative” party. The Republican Party is the party of big business, pure and simple. You know someone by his non-negotiables, and there simply aren’t very many things a Republican won’t negotiate away at the first sign of trouble with the Democrats. This was never more clear than when the Democrats and Republicans locked arms and pushed for the very unpopular immigration “reform.” It fits nicely with both agendas — it promises the Democrats future clients, and dangles cheap labor before big business. When the conservatives raised a stink, their reward for voting twice for Bush was to be dismissed as a bunch of bigots. This is what conservatives have to deal with: a party leadership that always seems to find common ground with liberals and some reason to forget the folks who actually vote for them.

So, don’t be perplexed when Republicans refuse to act like conservatives. They’re not conservatives. They just talk that way once every two years, to enlist the kind words of commentators such as Ms. Rubin. At the moment, it is in big business’ best interests to turn at least socialist enough to accept taxpayer money. So once again, they have found common cause with liberals and left their allies, and the country, in the lurch.

If Republicans can’t bring themselves to defend this country’s cherished institutions, we might as well find out now. Perhaps the Democrats will overreach again. Perhaps the frog in boiling water analogy is applicable to the situation. Now that socialism has quit creeping and started galloping, it’s time perhaps to see reality. It's a necessary first step.


dan said...

Excellent analysis of the disparate, disjointed factions that tend to vote Republican, and why the Democrats have much less of a problem. Very well put, too.
Dan Siehl, not coincidentally, a trombonist

Lee said...

Thankee, Dan'l, but I did make a mistake when I said big business fights regulation. That's almost a rookie error. Big business fights taxes and regulation to some degree. However, they know that small business cannot afford the regulatory costs imposed by government as well as they can.

Lee said...

Hope everything is okay with you & Corinne out there on the Left Coast!