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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The "Right" Problem

The conservative right, so called, or at least the pundits who for the last few years have dominated the ideological talking points of the Republican party, have any reason to be upset that John McCain is their nominee, or that politicians like he or Schwarzenegger, or Giuliani are the mainstream of their party, nor should they blame Huckabee, or Romney (though Romney really needs to blame his strategists for making some rather ill-advised decisions).The only people they have to be upset with are themselves.

This is the consequence of the religious right, and the other social ideologues on the right, throwing their energy and voting power behind the Neo-Conservative movement. And, as a result, some of them have lost their souls (see Colin Powell for a harrowing example). By aligning themselves with the Neo-cons and putting Bush in office, they also tied themselves to Bush’s liberal interventionist foreign policies. The Neo-conservative movement, founded by disaffected socialists and liberals at the end of the 1960’s and formulated into a working set of philosophies after the fall of the Soviet Union, has nothing to do with the foundations of conservatism. We’ve seen, under the Bush administration, the largest, most obtrusive government in our nation’s history, resulting in our nation turning a budget surplus into a nearly impossible deficit. We’ve also seen our civil liberties violated in an unprecedented and often illegal manner.( For those who say that 9/11 changed things, one only needs read the neo-conservative publication during the Clinton administration to see that this failed plan for a war in Iraq had been in the work even before Bush II.) This is why Ron Paul, a relatively minor congressman, has gained such unprecedented support. On stage with so many Neo-cons, and liberals, his lone, traditional republican voice, stood out in extreme contrast. While I agree with him on foreign policy and appreciate his economic policies, I disagree fundamentally with Congressman Paul on issues like the environment, healthcare, and education. But I do believe that in this election where change is the buzz word, he is the only candidate who could, who has the track record and guts, to be counted on to radically change the way things are done in Washington.

All the while social conservatives have been waiting in the wings for their issues to be addressed, while the Bush administration’s foreign policy was filtered through their religious ideology and vocabulary, and this War on Terror given religious, pre-millennialist overtones. We forget that President Bush had the Supreme Court, The Senate, and The House all in his power, but did not make even minor progress on social conservative issues, or at least the only two major issues the right has, gay marriage and abortion. He didn’t move on his token marriage amendment because the new-right needed the continued support of the religious right. Without those issues in their pocket, the GOP would not have social conservatives chained to their party. And still they waited, and now they’ve realized the extent of the raw deal they’ve signed. Their party has been in control of most of the three branches of government for a decade, and yet they have not been in power.

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