Conservatism Has Failed
Watching the Republican debate last week really highlighted the fact that conservatism is dead. Not so much in the sense that no one believes in it anymore (those 20 percenters are still hangin’ on), but that it has been discredited to the point that very few are willing to give it another chance.
How can you remain a Republican if you believe in smaller government, little or no foreign engagement (to the point of isolationism) and freedom from government intervention in private affairs? The truth is, you can’t, at least not if you want to retain any kind of intellectual honesty. And as much as I’d love to lay blame at the feet of the Bush administration, this one is not entirely their fault.
Conservative ideology has been given a chance, and it has run its course, to the detriment of the country and possibly to the near permanent hobbling of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the rest of us were forced to suffer the injuries inflicted by its running its course straight into a brick wall, but the wounds will heal, and so will our nation.
The Right Wing think tanks, the Republican controlled Congress and the Bush administration, together implemented the conservative agenda, virtually unmolested by the Democrats, and here we are. It’s not quite the Utopia they thought it would be and while incompetence played a supporting role, the real failure belongs to the brains of the operation, and we all know that wasn’t George W. Bush. Iraq would still be a disaster even if it had been handled properly. The disparity in wealth we are currently experiencing is by design and the infeasibility of a financial structure based on debt is the legacy of conservatism in practice. There’s a reason the neo-cons have left the building, failure is the orphan these conservatives have no compassion for.
Think of the great experiments in liberalism, Social Security, Medicare, the Environmental Protection Agency, the five day work week, child labor laws (the list is a long one), all still going and despite conservative intervention (attempt to destroy them) over the years, all still working relatively well considering. On the other side you have experiments in conservatism, trickle down economics, perpetual war to feed the military industrial complex, the unitary executive that says the President is above the law and should be above the law in times of crisis (of their own making), all have failed and all are costing the average American time, money, security and peace of mind.
After six unfettered years of conservative rule, we work harder for less, with little or no security or opportunity to claim even a small piece of the American dream. We worry about our health because we have no healthcare, we worry about our food because it’s not properly regulated and we worry about our future because there is no security in working a job anymore. We worry about our children because a good education is harder and harder to come by and we worry about our parents because they don’t have security in retirement. This is what conservatism has wrought (rot?) and why an overwhelming majority of Americans say we are on the wrong track. Sure, the current crop of Republicans will attempt to eek out enough votes by pandering to religious fundamentalists and preying upon the fears they’ve instilled in voters of “the others” be they Mexican immigrants, Muslims or gays, but ultimately they will lose because there simply aren’t enough simple minded people that haven’t been clued into the fact that the words Republicans utter are simply words without meaning, and while words may be cheap, the actions, policies and experiments in conservatism that we have seen implemented, speak volumes. We can hear you now, we just don’t want what your sellin’ anymore.
We don’t want to live in a country where obscene wealth is accrued on the backs of hard working people that can’t afford to educate their children. We don’t want to live in a country where government serves only the top 1%, that celebrates war and shuns diplomacy and that cedes its moral authority by condoning and implementing torture. We don’t want to live in a country where leaders tell us we must give up our rights while they flagrantly violate the law. In short, we don’t want to live in a conservative Petri dish. If Iraq was the clean slate on which to write the conservative dream, I think we’ve seen enough to determine, conclusively, that we are not now, nor are we interested in becoming, a conservative country. We need to get back to our liberal roots, that is what will feed our future.