14
   

Fragmentation of the conservative coalition

 
 
blatham
 
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 08:48 am
The movement is flying apart like dogshit off a lawnmower blade. Everyone is noting this, of course, including EJ Dionne this morning...

Quote:
Then there are those conservatives who see Palin as a "fatal cancer to the Republican Party" (David Brooks), as someone who "doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin" (Kathleen Parker), as "a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics" (Peggy Noonan).

These conservatives deserve credit for acknowledging how ill-suited Palin is for high office. But what we see here is a deep split between parts of the conservative elite and much of the rank and file.

For years, many of the elite conservatives were happy to harvest the votes of devout Christians and gun owners by waging a phony class war against "liberal elitists" and "leftist intellectuals." Suddenly, the conservative writers are discovering that the very anti-intellectualism their side courted and encouraged has begun to consume their movement.

The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity -- and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.

And then there is George W. Bush. Conservatives once hailed him as creating an enduring majority on behalf of their cause. Now, they cast him as the goat in their story of decline...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/23/AR2008102302869.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

How this fragmentation evolves will be very interesting indeed. The bit in red above points to a serious fissure that won't be easy or fast in the mending. Here's the way I see things going.

There is, first of all, a critical divergence in what these two camps consider to be 'reality' and what they consider to be 'America' and 'conservatism'. For one side, Palin represents something close to an ideal leader but for the other side she represents probable or certain future disaster (in governance and electorally). These camps represent really quite different and conflicting ideologies.

But there are, I think, a couple of other elements in the conservative coalition that's existed over the last two or three decades which ought to be considered separately from the two above; the movement/party organizers and the business community. Both are driven much less by ideology but rather by the desire to hold power for their own perceived benefits. These two elements can much more easily work in tandem. They have done so up until now and will surely continue to do so. People like Norquist, Reed, Kristol, Abramoff, DeLay, Mehlman, Ailes and others sit at the intersection between between the business community and Washington. Their world is the world of lobbyists and media manipulation. These folks will have their long knives out too over the next while but they'll slash and stab less out of ideological hatreds and more out of strategic goals. But, if this election goes seriously towards Dem dominance of the levers of power, then the power this camp held previously will be greatly diminished as the business community shifts its attentions and its seductions towards the Dem people.

What happens over the next few months and years will demonstrate how these various dynamics are playing out.

The first thing we will see will be the ubiquitous evisceration of McCain. He'll have no constituency left at all outside of his family, Lieberman and Graham. It will be ugly and unrelenting from all corners.

Coincident with that internally-directed savaging will be two-pronged external attack - on the illegitimacy of Obama as President (fraudulent election) and on the role the "liberal media" played in this illegitimate election result. This won't come from those conservatives guilty of apostacy (they'll be savaged too) but from the ideologues and from the organizer/media manipulator camps. It serves the emotional purposes of the idealogues and the strategic purposes of the organizer/media types.

Then we'll see unceasing efforts from those same elements just noted to thwart and invalidate the Obama presidency. Effectiveness on the part of an Obama presidency will be precisely what these folks do NOT want because it will mean further destruction to their access to power or further movement away from ideological goals. Again, the moderate conservatives (the apostacy folks) will stand outside those efforts.

At the same time, there'll be an evolving contest for party/movement leadership. Palin will almost certainly be central here because of her own ambitions and because the ideologues and organizer types will see her as their own or as a viable means to regain power. But Newt (certainly) and Jeb (possibly) will cut her legs out at the first opportunity.

A couple of provisos... what of Fox and talk radio? This crowd represents really two things, I think. They are a critical component of the organizer/media manipulation element and their prime function is to propagandize - that is, to motivate the culture-conservative base to believe and behave in a manner that corresponds with the organizer/media element's goals. To what degree the individuals involved are actually ideologues isn't clear at all. What is clear is that they represent and are the beneficiaries of a successful business model. How this business model will fare over the next decade also isn't clear if more and more americans continue to reject the poisonous and divisive role they play.

Secondly, what of the Pentagon? This entity has grown greatly in size, wealth and power over the last decade (eg 80% of intel is now done not by the CIA but by the Pentagon). Of course, the money flowing related to militarism is mind boggling. If we are talking the business component in all this, that has to include the weapons/war business. I don't know enough to figure out what role this entity will play over the next while.

A tempering of all the extremism and craziness we've seen over the last while will depend, I think, on how strong the moderate conservatives can become again in relation to the fruitcake end of the scale AND how effective an Obama administration will be in fulfilling the promise of inclusion and bipartisanship.



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Type: Discussion • Score: 14 • Views: 5,271 • Replies: 81
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rabel22
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 10:05 am
@blatham,
I am one who has seen the need for multiple political parties but the demise of the republican party is a good thing.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 10:20 am
@blatham,
Nice article, nice topic.

Quote:

At the same time, there'll be an evolving contest for party/movement leadership. Palin will almost certainly be central here because of her own ambitions and because the ideologues and organizer types will see her as their own or as a viable means to regain power. But Newt (certainly) and Jeb (possibly) will cut her legs out at the first opportunity.


A lot of it will have to do with whether or not Palin can study up. If she were able to answer simple questions cogently, things would have been very different this cycle. It takes a lot more than a bitchy convention speech that riles up the right-wingers to be a successful politician on the national level, and Palin will have plenty of chance to either prove that she has what it takes, or not.

I predict that she does not in fact have what it takes; and furthermore, that she may have greater problems after the election than people now think.

Cycloptichorn
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 01:08 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
cyclo

I'm throwing out this analysis and this set of predictions as a test of my ability to read this correctly. I'm pleased to have you join in the fun.

She will have an enormous amount of real work to do to convert the apostacy-conservatives, true (if it's even possible and it likely isn't). But not the "base" types who see her now as one of their own and who will be comforted by conceiving her 'victimization by the left and the media' (they'll identify). And the organizer/media types (pardon that awkward construction) will support her or not dependent only upon her ability to further their ends. A lot will depend on how the party/movement comes through the circular firing squad phase.
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 01:15 pm
@rabel22,
rabel22

I'm with you, if "the party" means as presently constituted.

My preference would be to see the social conservative base splinter off (more possible now than at any earlier point, I think). Not only would that put a significant portion of the movement's fruitcake element into deserved isolation but it would also blunt the effectiveness of the elements which use the present party for their own ends (Fox, Limbaugh, Norquist, Blackwater, Northup, etc)
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 01:47 pm
Quote:
Conservative legal scholar and Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried, who just endorsed Obama, isn't just a Republican. He's actually one of McCain's campaign advisors.

Before they cycle down the memory hole, here's Fried on McCain's Honest and Open Election Committee and Justice Advisory Committee.

Key to his decision was McCain's "choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."


Likewise, Former MA GOP Gov. Weld
(TPM)
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 02:13 pm
@blatham,
blatham wrote:

cyclo

I'm throwing out this analysis and this set of predictions as a test of my ability to read this correctly. I'm pleased to have you join in the fun.

She will have an enormous amount of real work to do to convert the apostacy-conservatives, true (if it's even possible and it likely isn't). But not the "base" types who see her now as one of their own and who will be comforted by conceiving her 'victimization by the left and the media' (they'll identify). And the organizer/media types (pardon that awkward construction) will support her or not dependent only upon her ability to further their ends. A lot will depend on how the party/movement comes through the circular firing squad phase.


I agree. But, if patterns keep holding true, that doesn't matter much for Palin's future; b/c the Social Conservatives are the Fiscal Conservatives' Bitches. They will never be allowed to put forward a primarily social conservative candidate by the Republican party, ever. So her struggle should really only be looked at as one for the hearts of the Fiscal Conservatives. I mean, heck. What an uphill climb she will have. First impressions are important and hers were terrible. I remember the first day after she was announced, and while I had guessed for months that McCain would pick her (to shake up the race, which worked), I had no clue she would be so ******* stupid. Hard to leave behind a record like that in people's minds.

The circular firing squad which is coming up should be an absolute thing of beauty. If the electoral projections we see today hold out, they will be incredibly marginalized in both the House and the Senate. IF the Dems can avoid over-reaching during these next 4 years, then we could be looking at a very long period of dominance for the Democrats, as the Right-wing moves even farther to the right ("McCain was too liberal!").

Cycloptichorn
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 02:43 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
b/c the Social Conservatives are the Fiscal Conservatives' Bitches. They will never be allowed to put forward a primarily social conservative candidate by the Republican party, ever. So her struggle should really only be looked at as one for the hearts of the Fiscal Conservatives.


I'm not sure who you refer to here with the term 'fiscal conservatives'. You can't mean just the supply-sider ideologues/markets are godlike in outcome people, surely. On their own, I don't see them as a significant force, particularly given the present necessary reconceptualization that guys like Greenspan are having to undergo as their brains rewire. So I assume you must be referring to the corporate element as in there too. All they need (functionally) is a useful idiot who can win an election.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 02:59 pm
@blatham,
blatham wrote:

Quote:
b/c the Social Conservatives are the Fiscal Conservatives' Bitches. They will never be allowed to put forward a primarily social conservative candidate by the Republican party, ever. So her struggle should really only be looked at as one for the hearts of the Fiscal Conservatives.


I'm not sure who you refer to here with the term 'fiscal conservatives'. You can't mean just the supply-sider ideologues/markets are godlike in outcome people, surely. On their own, I don't see them as a significant force, particularly given the present necessary reconceptualization that guys like Greenspan are having to undergo as their brains rewire. So I assume you must be referring to the corporate element as in there too. All they need (functionally) is a useful idiot who can win an election.


Call it The Corner crowd. The so-called 'intelligent' Conservatives. They control the finances of the Republican party, and that's not going to change even under our new Socialist paradise. It's why Huckabee would never have stood a chance, even though he won the primaries in many Southern states; his funding never would have been there.

I've never been able to figure out why the 'Christians' allied with the 'greed is good' crowd in the first place, but I think we could be seeing their alliance coming apart. And Palin isn't going to be the person to weld it back together.

Cycloptichorn
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 03:42 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
OK, so we have some differences in how we conceive of the various centers of power in the movement/party.

Quote:
Call it The Corner crowd. The so-called 'intelligent' Conservatives. They control the finances of the Republican party, and that's not going to change even under our new Socialist paradise. It's why Huckabee would never have stood a chance, even though he won the primaries in many Southern states; his funding never would have been there.


Hard, I think, to insist that control of the finances of the party arise from the folks you point to. But let's let that one sit.

Huckabee seems to me a different sort of creature from Palin, and doesn't fit the 'useful idiot' description nearly so well. He's smarter and more principled and less ambitious (in the negative sense of that word). Palin looks to me far closer to the model of W than does Huckabee and W was the perfect useful idiot. Here's Ambinder and others discussing what they think Palin's future might look like... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/24/palin-in-2012-the-argumen_n_137550.html

Quote:
I've never been able to figure out why the 'Christians' allied with the 'greed is good' crowd in the first place, but I think we could be seeing their alliance coming apart. And Palin isn't going to be the person to weld it back together.


It was their only way to power and influence. And it worked well for them (eg Supreme Court, faith based initiatives which filled their coffers, appointments up and down the federal and state machinery, etc). The smart ones (Reed, Perkins, Weyrich etc) knew that they had to compromise and work within the party because as a seperate political entity, neither would be a match for the Dems. That's still true of course but anger and inherent nuttiness might now push them there...that will be its own smaller internal battle.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 08:32 pm
Here's a transcript of Limbaugh from today on Republican moderates ("good riddance") and on the future of Palin...


And here's a Barnes ode to the lady...


And I suppose we ought to note that Kristol was, according to reporting this week, one of the key (if not the key) persons pushing Palin for the VP slot.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Oct, 2008 08:49 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
as the Right-wing moves even farther to the right ("McCain was too liberal!").


When you think about it, Cy, you have to wonder how they [the right] ever let McCain happen. The Right-wing has already moved pretty far right, and I agree that they will go further right in the future, but really, how did McCain happen?

And I'm not saying this just because he has personally been a major **** up as any kind of candidate in his own right.
0 Replies
 
mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 08:27 am
I really dont think there ever was a "conservative coalition" in the way you are describing it.

As a conservative myself, I didnt align myself with any of the more "right-wing" groups you are mentioning.
I do however, think that there was a Republican coalition, and I admit that that is coming apart (and I couldnt be happier about it).
You are confusing republican with conservative, and thats the flaw in your thinking.
Granted, most of the current crop of repubs in DC call themselves conservatives, but IMHO they are just using whatever label they think will get them the votes.

I do think that McCain is trying to be a conservative, and I also think that Sarah Palin is a social conservative, but I really wouldnt consider either of them fiscal conservatives.

If the repub party does fragment, I think you will see another party emerge, one based on true conservative principles. And if that happens I think it will be a much smaller party, with none of the fringe elements that dominate the repub party now.
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 09:41 am
@mysteryman,
Well, MM, perhaps you ought to inform rather a lot of people in the party or movement who use the term readily, eg http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110010148

The Republican party is obviously an amalgam of people with differing definitions on what 'conservative' means and with differing notions of how governance. Both parties have different communities like that (as do all parties everywhere). And these different communities will be well coordinated of less well coordinated, mutual benefit being the goal.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 12:47 pm
The Republican party includes people who are best described as libertarian to add to the motley mix.
Back during the 2004 election, I had asked a libertarian Republican member how he could reconcile his political ideology with that of the religious right within the party. He responded that the religious right was irrelevant, and that they were older people, and that the movement would die off with them as they would decease. He couldn't be more wrong. It is this tension between the libertarian Republicans and the religious right (whose recruitment has kept its numbers static) Republicans that has come to a head and is threatening to tear the party apart.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 01:24 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

The Republican party includes people who are best described as libertarian to add to the motley mix.
Back during the 2004 election, I had asked a libertarian Republican member how he could reconcile his political ideology with that of the religious right within the party. He responded that the religious right was irrelevant, and that they were older people, and that the movement would die off with them as they would decease. He couldn't be more wrong. It is this tension between the libertarian Republicans and the religious right (whose recruitment has kept its numbers static) Republicans that has come to a head and is threatening to tear the party apart.
I'm remembering Barry Goldwater dismissing the religious right as being the antithesis of conservatism.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Oct, 2008 01:31 pm
The Fragmentation of the conservative coalition takes place in the environment of a extreme lack of competent American Political leadership. America desperately needs Obama to be this century's FDR, and if he is the GOP and the right will not be an obstacle, and the DEM's will not be of much assistance.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 07:59 am
Here's a good piece from a Brit observer...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/26/uselections2008-republicans

And David Frum on what the republicans face and what they ought to do right now...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/23/AR2008102302081.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
0 Replies
 
LionTamerX
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 08:10 am
@dyslexia,
Quote:
I'm remembering Barry Goldwater dismissing the religious right as being the antithesis of conservatism.


I believe he referred to them as " religious kooks".
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2008 08:50 am
@blatham,
Quote:
as someone who "doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin"


If Americans wish to feel comfortable then it is what your nation can do for you rather than what you can do for your nation. And you have been told not to ask for that. I know everybody laughed but it sounded good and helped us all to feel virtuous momentarily.

History seems to show that we can't be made comfortable. We always want more. As bodily needs are easily satisfied we can only have psychological wants for more. And it is cowardly to refrain from saying that the ladies are more prone to be suffering in this way. Although the number of gentlemen is not insignificant.

We even wish the barmaid to say "thank you" graciously when she serves our beer after she has been on her feet for about 15 hours what with one thing or another: the main one being having been got with child by a chap who actually couldn't afford it. I try to tell them never to say "thank you" or "sorry" to a man but they've been programmed like the maid in Alphaville.

"Excellent service" we say, thus proving how wise and discerning we had been to have chosen that establishment.

Quote:
It serves the emotional purposes of the idealogues and the strategic purposes of the organizer/media types.


As your post is proof of your idealogue status Bernie I presume from your own drift that composing it served some emotional purpose for you. After all it is composed of cliches, teleologies and banalities which we are all familiar with assuming that only people interested in politics would click on a thread like this.

I think you are giving them too much credit. I'm a cock-up man myself. You are describing the past. Which was mainly cock-ups.

Quote:
For years, many of the elite conservatives were happy to harvest the votes of devout Christians and gun owners by waging a phony class war against "liberal elitists" and "leftist intellectuals." Suddenly, the conservative writers are discovering that the very anti-intellectualism their side courted and encouraged has begun to consume their movement.


That is pure bullshit. Neat. It's an assertion. This movement is a few days away from voting by the tens of million, enough to carry a large number of states, and is powerful enough to make sure no third party arises.

And I have already exposed your anti-intellectualism when you jibed at my learning. Have you forgotten? You did abandon the thread sharpish.

You should uprate your reading material Bernie.
0 Replies
 
 

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