Conservatism’s Safety Net
FDL’s Thers is piling on the “has conservatism run out of ideas” bandwagon and inadvertently helped demonstrate why conservatism will never die.
The piece is entitled “The Autumn of Wingnuttia” and doesn’t disappoint. He dismisses “a belief in free markets, free people, and in the greatness of the American people and the American nation” as “fatuous slogans and overripe bullshit,” at least “in the eyes of people who aren’t morons.” Similarly, “modesty toward what problems government can ever solve” translates as “wanking.”
It turns out that conservatism was never “an intellectual movement at all” but rather “an essentially nihilist politics of vicious opportunism, where the entire goal is power for its own sake.” The forty percent or so of Americans who self-identify as conservative? “[C]ompletely crazy idiots.”
Like political parties, political movements in the ascendancy invariably overreach. Too many conservative Republicans interpreted a narrow Electoral College victory in 2000, which gave them nominal control of the policymaking apparatus, as a universal mandate. A cottage industry of books insulting the forty percent of Americans who [identify with the other party]* as stupid (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d be Republicans), traitors (Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism), both (The Enemy Within, Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder) or barely worth talking to (How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)).
Now that the Republicans are down, too many on the other side are making the same mistake. Conservatism has been rejected! Everyone agrees with progressive ideals now! Only the stupid, racist few disagree these days!
It’s not inconceivable that the November elections return the White House to Democratic hands, increase the party’s House majority, and even provides a filibuster-proof margin in the Senate. But it’s a lead pipe cinch that they’ll screw it up, became the corrupt, power-at-all-costs goons that they now accuse their opponents of being, and piss off enough of the country that they’ll be thrown out on their butts. Not because they’re bad people who hate America but because that’s what people in power do.
Correction: The original had “vote the other way” where the brackets are. Closer to 50 percent voted for the Democratic nominee, Al Gore, in 2000 — indeed, more than voted for Bush. My intent was to discuss the rough 40-40 split between die-hard supporters of the two major parties, not voting behavior in a specific election.