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Conservative Politics

New -- 20 September 2004

The patron saint of conservative politics in the United States may have once been Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr. As the former editor of National Review -- one of the further right magazines in the days when conservative politics was closer to the status of a fad than a significant political movement -- Buckley once noted that there were two kinds of conservatives: the conservative of conscience and the conservative of convenience.

The first type of individual was someone who believed in the principles of conservatism as a matter of principle -- even when such principles might conflict with their personal preferences (even -- shudder -- might have cost them more money, status, or power in adhering to such principles. Buckley seemed to be a conservative of conscience.

The second type of conservative was someone who used the label of conservatism in order to avoid taxes and in general avoid all sorts of financial and other involvements by advocating conservative politics. Such advocating was of course only applicable when it was personally beneficial. It was a matter of preserving their status, power, position in society, and wealth. In those cases where the individual did not come out a head in a given situation by adhering to such conservative principles, they were quietly ignored.

In the interim since Mr. Buckley's observation, there has arisen a third label which uses the word "conservative" even when it's only vaguely applicable. These entrepreneurs are "neo-conservatives" (also known as "Nazi-conservatives"). These individuals and groups drape themselves in the flag of conservatism, but in reality are advocating principles far removed from true conservative principles.

The neo-cons (as they are often called) advocate corporate welfare, patriarchal principles, fundamentalist philosophies, and any and all things designed to increase their wealth by appealing to the baser instincts of greedy corporate and institutional organizations. According to Martin Dawson [1], "The Republican Party is becoming what it criticized in 1994 -- the party of Washington power, the party of Big Government, Big Spending and Big Business."

The neo-con goal is something akin to that of the young medical student who attends medical school and specializes in diseases of the rich and famous. A case in point is Vice President Dick Cheney who still receives compensation from Haliburton, while at the same time as Vice President ensuring that Haliburton receives massive no-bid contracts from the U.S. government. To say that being such a conservative is convenient for the Dick VP's financial fortunes is to say that the sky is oft times blue.

The neo-cons also have the distinction of being very pro-religion. This does not imply that they have a single shred of religion, spirituality, or theological leanings, but to say only that they are prone -- for the sake of convenience -- to use religion as a tool in their quest for meeting all of their personal goals and aspirations. In a sense, they adhere to the Religion of Dominionism, whose basic creed is that the ends justify the means -- no matter that such means might violate, just for starters, the Ten Commandments.

It should be clear, therefore, that labeling someone... or assuming the mantle of being a conservative does not succinctly describe a personal, political, or religious philosophy. The label nowadays simply covers far too wide a base as to be definitive. We have reached the point where "conservative" can no longer be used as a label, but only as an adjective. One might be conservative, but one cannot claim to be a conservative.

For example, conservatism might be considered to consist of serious resistance to the use of marijuana or gay marriage. And yet, "Nearly 40% of first-year [college] students now support legalizing pot (the most since the '70s), and an astonishing 59% of 18-year-olds think same-sex couples should be able to legally wed. (Only about 30% of all Americans do.)) [1] While the College Republican National Committee boasts an increase in chapters on campus from 409 (1998) to 1,148 (2004) -- while the Democrats have 20% fewer campus organizations -- the fact remains that many of the students who are tilting right are moving "toward that brand of conservatism known as libertarianism."[1] The basic trend is not to continue as before, but increase individual liberty to the maximum extent possible -- and consistent with the principle of Common Law which states that you can have any freedom you want, provided only that you do not infringe upon another's equal freedom.

In terms of conservative politics, "One student laid out a conservative case for Kerry: 'When a Democrat is in office and proposes the same policies that Bush has proposed, Republicans act Republican and kill them," said Aakash Raut, 23, a senior at the University of Illinois at Springfield, in a heated debate with pro-Bush students. "And you have actually more conservative government than you do if a Republican is in the White House." [1] Wasn't it George Bush, Senior who raised taxes? Wasn't it the Son of a Bush who took a budgetary surplus of some $237 billion, wiped it out, and built instead a massive deficit of some $396 billion? [2] Wasn't it Bush and Cheney to felt justified in bypassing the Constitution -- "making energy policy in secret, creating military tribunals by executive order, withholding budget information about the true cost of Medicare reform, resisting congressional investigations into intelligence failures and providing only the vaguest estimates of the future costs of the war on terrorism"? [2]

Wasn't it also President George W. Bush who said -- referring to Kerry's proposal to rescind tax cuts for the wealthy -- "The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway." [In this regard, note that in 2004, the average tax cut for Americans whose annual income ranked in the top 1% was, according to a Congressional Budget Office report, $78,460 -- while at the same time, the average tax cut for households with an average annual income of $57,000 was $1,090.] [3]

Obviously the neo-con program to enrich the rich at the expense of just about everyone else is alive and flourishing. Not exactly an extremely "conservative" approach -- but then again, maybe that's the way it's always been done.. and therefore conservative.

After all , the definition of conservative is [4]: "a averse to rapid change. b (of views, taste, etc.) moderate; avoiding extremes."

Oops. This is not exactly descriptive of the conservative politics of the leadership of the Republican National Party in the United States. For example, abruptly switching to a foreign policy which include pre-emptive invasions of other countries, and in direct contradiction to the well established -- dare we say, orthodox -- international laws which prohibit such pre-emptive strikes... this is not in any fashion, "conservative."

(7/4/2005) In fact, in order to be a card-carrying member of the National Republican Party (and an automatic, knee-jerk supporter of the Bushites), one is required to believe the following:

*Saddam [Hussein] was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

*Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

*The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

*A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

*Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

*The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

*If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

*A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

*Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

*HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

*Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

*A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

*Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

*The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's "military" record (Texas and Alabama Air National Guard) is none of our business.

*Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.

*You support states' rights, which means [former] Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

*What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

[Received as an e-mail, 20 August 2004, with the following additions: "Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10 other people, we're likely to be stuck with Bush for 4 more years. Friends don't let friends vote Republican."]

One might argue that conservatism in the traditional meaning of the word is in itself inherently flawed, and thus it is okay to advocate and initiate such policy changes.

Clearly, the very idea of being "averse to rapid change" in a universe where "the only constant is change" -- and much of it rapid -- seems just a big untenable. Is it possible that the neo-cons have recognized that change and rapid change is inevitable and have thus attempted to incorporate into conservative thought the reality of such change? OR are the neo-cons just so many dysfunctional, power-mad crazies on the loose?

Probably the latter. But there might also be just a hint of the former as well.

If conservatism has the Achilles Heel of being averse to rapid change in a rapidly changing world, any resistance to such change is just a prescription for pain. The proverbial description is that "you can't go home again." You can't recapture the past; you can't even go back to the same movie and expect to enjoy it in the same way you first did. Life is a constant transformation of our beliefs and experiences -- it's how we grow. But the only certain way of avoiding growth is to to die. [The irony is that death is transformative, and it's highly probably that in the after life, one will still be learning and growing! School is never really out.]

So how does this apply to the appeal of libertarians and the like to return to the basics of the Constitution for the United States? Is the basis of law in the USA something to be strived for no matter what, or is even the constitution in serious need of amendment in order to reflect the reality of a changing world?

On the one hand, various amendments have done just that -- among other things eliminating legal biases on the basis of gender and race. At the same time, there is a pressing need for fiscal conservatism (i.e. balancing the budget) and such societal aspects as the legalization of gay-marriages. These may reflect future amendments to the constitution -- albeit one might not want to hold their breath until their enacted. There may also be the need to resist efforts by knee-jerk reactionaries to restrict freedoms, i.e. suddenly change the de facto laws and traditions that have served us in the past.

vvvvvvvvvv

In the final analysis, it could be argued that conservatism must evolve into an open-minded acceptance of what is best and most real in the universe -- even if the time line for deciding what is indeed "best and most real" may be something other than a radical change of pace. [The irony is that it's in the radical changes that things really get interesting!]

Ultimately, conservatism is just a matter of comfort level -- how rapid can one tolerate change? The more conservative one is, the greater the need to lighten up and learn to welcome change. The first step, of course, is to accept the change of mind which would then allow for accepting more change in one's life.

***********

One final bit of strangeness -- with respect to the increasing number of active young voters who are espousing conservative views. The average 20-year-old (and younger) was born at a time when astrologically Pluto was entering Scorpio and Neptune was entering Capricorn. The latter sign is traditionally the sign of adherence to the laws, rules, regulations, and traditions of society. This implies a very conservative leaning by such individuals in terms of their illusions and fantasies about what they believe is reality. Small wonder that the Republican Party has attracted a notable increase in their college numbers -- although it's likely this is basic to the young people themselves, and not to any appeal or effort by the older, established Republican Party members. In fact, when the young people begin to realize the neo-con or just flat non-conservative nature of modern Republicanism, there is likely to be a notable backlash.

In this regard, Pluto comes on scene as it enters Scorpio. This involves the most basic issues at their most profound depths. Scorpio is about, among other things, revenge. When the current crop of youngsters get wind of what's really going on -- and decide to finally pay attention to "the man behind the curtain" -- things are apt to get a little nasty. And Scorpio-style nasty can be very nasty indeed. At the same time, Scorpio is also about sex! Duh. Thus the inclination of young conservatives of this particular generation being essentially in favor of gay marriage -- the latter which is basically a sexual issue.

This new generation may also include Indigo Children (and eventually Crystal Children). This definately does not bode well for the deceptive practices of so-called conservative politicians. Somehow, I seem to be hearing the fat lady singing.

______________________________

References:

[1] John Cloud, "The Right's New Wing," Time Magazine, August 30, 2004.

[2] Nancy Gibbs and John F. Dickerson, "Inside the Mind of Geoge W. Bush" [The Scary Place], Time Magazine, September 6, 2004.

[3] Notebook, Time Magazine, August 23, 2004.

[4] Oxford Complete Word Finder, Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, New York, 1996.

 

Justice         Justice, Order, and Law

Liberty

State of the Union

Forward to:

Declaration of Independence         Constitution for the United States of America

New:

The Milgram Effect

Freedom of Religion        Holy War        The Rules of Holy War

Racism and Culturalism         Multiculturalism         Perils of Immigration

Free Speech         The (9) Supremes         The Halls of SCOTUS

An American Third Party         A Third Party That Knows How to Party

 

 

               

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