Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ain't No Party Like a Conservative Party...Oh Wait

Michael Brendan Doughtery's take on what passes for conservatism is a worthwhile read. Having Aspergers, I'm not always aware what is totally being tongue in cheek and what is the stone cold truth, but I can tell that a goodly portion of it is pretty hilarious.

That said, Doughtery echoes one complaint I've heard from other young conservatives and some not so young: this belief that one can be a conservative and yet have nothing to do the Republican Party. This is what Doughtery said:
Because you’ve made yourself a prostitute for the GOP, a cynical and corrupt organization since Reconstruction, all of your young geniuses are tainted. People don’t respect their ideas, because they can’t assume they are genuinely held, rather than cynical ploys to keep Joe Palinsupporter in line. (emphasis mine)

Now, maybe Doughtery was just being playful. But I also think there is a truth here. Many conservatives like Doughtery want to have a conservatism that has nothing to do with the GOP. In their minds, the Republican Party is something that is diseased and has corrupted conservatism.

None of this makes sense to me. First, if all you are going to do is just write pieces for some conservative magazine and never vote, then I guess it makes sense to not want to have anything to do with the GOP. Or for that matter if you are involved in creating some kind of third party that adheres to conservative principles. The reality is that if you are a conservative and want to have some impact, there is only one game in town: the conservative party in the United States, also known as the Republican Party. Political Parties are the vehicles that tend to move the political ideologies. A conservatism without the Republican vehicle isn't going very far and certainly won't get anywhere with the Democrats.

I can understand why people like Daughtery don't like the GOP. Political Parties have to be involved in the nitty gritty of politics. Political parties have to work to raise money for candidates and try to appeal to a wide audience which means having to dilute your ideological beliefs. Political parties also have to govern and that means making compromises. It means that a President Bush has to give money to banks to prevent a Second Great Depression. It means that a President Reagan will raise taxes to try to tame a deficit. It means a President Nixon will create an EPA to deal with a growing environmental problem.

Of course for someone like myself who considers himself a moderate, I tend to like political party that is able to be a bit more flexible and pragmatic. Also, I have to wonder who corrupted who: conservatism or the Republican Party? I do know that before the conservative resurgence that began with Barry Goldwater, moderates like me had a place in the GOP. Now we are holding on by the skin of our teeth, if that.

On the whole I like Daughtery's essay. The current conservative movement is embarassing and it makes it damn hard to say you are a Republican in public. I'm tired of the Joe the Plumbers and Sarah Palins who don't have a brain between them, becoming what passes as intellectual heft among conservatives.

But I don't think you can place all the blame on the GOP. It takes two to tango.

Crossposted at Republicans United

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