02 March 2012

Conservatism is Done

As Paul Krugman correctly points out:

So now we see a primary struggle in which the choice is between a series of not-Romneys whose political and policy views are stark raving mad, on one side, and the not-not-Romney who is, maybe, just pretending to share those views. How did that happen?
The answer, as Brad suggests, is that it happened a long time ago. The GOP isn’t just spectacularly unlucky in its menu of candidates; this is what the party has been for decades. Rick Santorum isn’t someone out of left field; he’s always been what you see now, and he was a central figure in his Senate days.

This election clearly reveals that, as an intellectual movement, conservatism is completely bankrupt.  There have been several conservative pundits who have tried to explain why Romney is conservative and the rest are fakers (ahem, Ann Coulter), why Gingrich is conservative and the rest are fakers (ahem, Thomas Sowell), and why Santorum is conservative and the rest are fakers (John Hawkins and Chuck Norris, at times).  Worst of all, not one single mainstream conservative pundit even gives Ron Paul the time of day.

Now, self-described conservatives will claim that they favor limited government, abiding by the constitution, lower taxes, a free economy, and a strong military.  The only current GOP candidate that has a history of supporting all these things is Ron Paul.*  And yet, conservatives continue to reject the one person who holds their nominal beliefs.

Now, some conservatives make a big to-do about social issues.  But Romney is not going to be there man, and Newt is too politically pragmatic to be their man.  That just leaves Santorum and Paul.  And of the two, Santorum has enough disregard for the constitution to try to enact conservative social policy.

Thus, the conservative movement, such as it is, is so intellectually bankrupt that they will most strongly support the one candidate who is liberal on everything except social policy and, in a display of hamsterific cognitive dissonance, call this man a true conservative.  The simple fact of the matter, as Krugman points out, is that conservatism is dead.  The GOP wants no part of it, and all the nominal conservatives will rationalize their tacit support of liberalism instead of holding GOP party leaders’ feet to the fire.  And once you reach the point of calling “conservatism” “liberalism,” you have effectively rendered “conservative” meaningless.

On what grounds can conservatives oppose state intervention into health care?  They want to keep Medicaid and Medicare.  On what grounds can conservatives support limited government?  They want the federal government to regulate people’s personal lives.  And how can they support low taxes?  These massive expenditures, including the military, have to be paid for somehow.

Indeed, there is no consistent application of principles when it comes to conservatism.  Conservatives want what they want, and they will find a way to rationalize it.  They want to control other people’s lives (hence the desire to make Biblical morality part of the legal code), but they don’t want to be controlled (hence the call for lower taxes and deregulation).  They don’t want to pay for liberals’ wants (hence their opposition to universal health care, welfare, other social programs), but they want liberals to pay for their imperialism.  Conservatives are hypocrites of the worst kind, inconsistent in their “principles,” and guided by nothing other than a desire to control others, in the hope of molding a society in their own image.  The rationalizations that accompany their attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable is nothing more than the movement’s death knell.

Regarding the military, let me point at that strong militaries and war-mongering are not the same thing.  Now, it is true that war-mongering can only happen if one has a strong military, but that doesn’t mean that war-mongering strengthens the military.  In fact, war-mongering weakens the army, what with the loss of life and the continual destruction of military items.

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