There is no question that the Republican party in general and the so-called “conservatives” in particular are currently suffering a major identity crisis. But to blame Senator Arlen Specter who returned after many decades to the Democratic ranks, is to miss the point entirely. None the less, Cal Thomas makes the attempt and ends up veering aimlessly all over the road and finally ends up in a ditch.
In fact as history has proved many of the so-called “conservatives” of today saw it as in their own best interests to migrate from the Southern Democratic party, decimating it in the process, to that of the GOP, decimating what had been a centrist to moderately (old) leftist ideological position held for a long time in that party. But of course, Mr. Thomas wouldn’t be inclined to recall that important bit of history now would he? But that bit of public fact had been published in news magazines decades ago. But as ideologies migrated from one political party to another, polar extremes that fed upon themselves, began tilting the parties too. For any centrist observer, who wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade, both parties had now been made up of ideological special interests. Both parties had the cause to serve only their own base instead of a country. None the less, for anyone who’d laid the claim that there were viable alternatives in variously named third parties, those third parties have not gained traction. Nor will they until the American public sees both Democrats and Republicans seriously imploding.
At this time, the focus is on the GOP and why they are out of power. Throughout Thomas’ entire column—examples are to follow—he seems to look for all kinds of reasons why the GOP lost in 2008. RINO, Republican in Name Only: This is applied to any member of the GOP who seems to be a bit squishy ideologically. In short, to not be a RINO you must be 1,000% in agreement with that particular special interest, whether religious or business, or in ideological opposition to the political opposition. The problem with thinking in terms of RINO as a means of achieving political purity; you end up with a situation that isn’t conservative at all. And RINO to outside observers not afraid to say it, is comparable to “capitalist roader” in Soviet style societies. What you have instead is commie think. A mentality that is radical in its approach to ideology and what is acceptable governance. In short, there can not be diverse opinions in any one political organization—except that Thomas demanded that the Dems give prominent positions to anti-abortion Dems in Congress; before the GOP should consider watering down their own—for to hold them would “weaken” the strength of what makes it possible for that ideology to win. As Thomas flails around looking for solid ground to hang future GOP opportunities to regain power in Washington, D.C. on; he at the same time exposes the lie of what has been called “conservative” over the last two decades.
When you are out of power, then it is easy to declare why we need to see a more limited gvt. (1) Selectively pointing out burdensome regs—those that specifically help labor and consumers—while failing to point out other gvt involvement in the private sector—protecting business interests from foreign competition as an example—is to hold a utopian view of a “free market” that actually does not now and probably never did exist in this country. (2) Personal responsibility—that does not extend to the final fate of say a Terry Sciavo. The hubby wants to pull the plug on his blind and brain dead wife, her parents are in constant denial about the fact that she materially died 15 years earlier. Her “physical life” is maintained through a feeding tube. Anti-abortionists literally make a circus out of protesting Schiavo going to heaven. As long as her heart can be forced to keep on beating, then she is “alive.” And Congress must of course meet to protect this poster child of ideological “culture war.” Passing a law to force the independent branch of gvt, the judicial system, to act in favor of Schiavo. They refuse and are then called “activist” by an activist president, GW Bush, who wanted to dictate literally the behavior of the courts in the Schiavo case. Of point 2, Thomas upbraided the GOP as “masquerading as liberals” in order to be liked. The GOP were playing to their base that never did oppose an activist gvt, only that activist gvt controlled by the opposition party. And without a doubt, the GOP did aply an activist gvt on the behalf of any other special interest with the money to buy their time and legislative efforts. (3) If we have financial systems on shaky grounds today it is because the anti-regulatory GOP shoved through this concept of “conservatism” that demonstrated an ignorance of history as to what useful purpose those regulations served to keep financial systems (banks, mortgage companies) both healthy and stable, and therefore depended upon. Remove those regulations, and they cease to be a guiding principle by which those same financial institutions can continue to operate in the black and not collapse under a pure weight of greed with a house of cards constructed on quicksand. Wouldn’t principled conservatism keep what works? Obviously, deregulatory madness, while it may have taken decades for its true costs to be known, has still replicated in some ways the panic and crash of 1929 and the great depression that followed. Why would you repeat what history says failed and created untold suffering? Those who grew up during the great depression understood the necessity of frugality of not spending beyond one’s means. What has been just as obvious, is that business interests have recently been headed (within the last few decades) by a greed at all costs mentality. And we need gvt to give us a green light. Those who head these business interests and their lobbyists couldn’t be bothered with the lessons of history. Frugality and discipline in business would have kept Washington Mutual a healthy bank. And definitely not one forced to merge with Chase (2008). 80 years later, and change agents (masquerading as conservatives) found out what havoc was wrought by their utopian ideals. And the people turned to the only other party that understood how to help consumers and labor, the Democrats.
Exactly what “principles” did so-called “conservatives” actually have that would have won them elections? The principles they threw aside when the GOP achieved effectively one party rule by 2002. And began losing ground on after 2004. Let’s put it bluntly, gvt isn’t supposed to be there to ratify specified religious canon. That is an activist gvt. Nor to use various public institutions to dictate a specific brand of “values;” inclusive of public education. That is a demand for more and more gvt involvement. If people want “educational alternatives” to public schools based on ideological opposition, isn’t personal responsibility then inclusive of then you must be prepared to pay the cost of private education instead of sharing the costs (through taxation) with others in your same school district as is done with public education? But no, seems these same people want taxpayers taking up some of the burden of their child getting that private and ideologically correct education through tax vouchers. The same taxpayers who may deem that public education is quite good enough for their own kids. From my perspective, if you don’t want your kid in the public school system, then it is your responsibility to pay in full the costs of your child’s private education. Not mine.
If ultimately this might explain a few things; at best, the so-called “conservative base” never operated on conservative principles to begin with. That was for “the other guy” to do. And the identity crisis for the GOP really started with the Reagan revolution and not the Obama blowout of 4 November 2008, when he won a 365 electoral college vote. Too bad that Thomas couldn’t have been honest about this.