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Monday, May 23, 2005

the conservative divide(s)

It's coming. For years now, the coalition that is the Republican Party has been held together with shrewd politicking and calls for solidarity in the face of the supposed evils of liberalism: moral relativism, pacifism and elitism (or as I like to call them: tolerance, respect for human life and intelligence). The GOP is rampant with contradictions: top-down federalized social conservatism v. bottom-up federalist communitarianism; big government militarism v. small government libertarianism; cautious, isolationism foreign policy v. robust, preemptive idealism; lower taxes on the rich v. um... wait they agree on that. While the Democratic Party is equally internally contradictory, our contradictions have been more pronounced at the top, while the GOP has pretty much kept things together. In the national leadership to this point, all of those different strands have blended into a pro-war, pro-market, anti-tax Goliath that talks up social conservatism in election years, and mostly ignore it in reality. (more in expanded post)

But the fault lines are starting to show. Social (very) conservatives, who claim ownership over George W. because they (wrongly) claim they got him reelected, are cashing in their favor cards. The want Schiavo, they want judges, and they place their goals in the apocalyptic terms of Christians versus the World. But they may be overplaying their hand (I love bad metaphors). In USA Today (yesterday), Trent Lott has to defend his Christian cred to the Christian Right's new leader, James Dobson:
"James Dobson: Who does he think he is, questioning my conservative credentials?" Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an interview. Dobson, head of the conservative group Focus on the Family, criticized Lott for his efforts to forge a compromise in the fight over the judges. Lott is still angry. "Some of his language and conduct is quite un-Christian, and I don't appreciate it," the senator said.
When Trent Lott is at odds with the right wing of the Republican Party, you know other people are squirming. And the fact that 6 GOP Senators may (let's hope) jump ship to maintain the filibuster in the face of incredible pressure from the base and the White House doesn't speak well.

Then you have Pat Buchanan who, while all put kicked out of GOP in 2000, is declaring conservatism dead,and a war a-brewin over the remains:
"The conservative movement has passed into history," says the one-time White House aide, three-time presidential candidate, commentator and magazine publisher. "It doesn't exist anymore as a unifying force," he says in an interview with The Washington Times. "There are still a lot of people who are conservative, but the movement is now broken up, crumbled, dismantled."
It hard to ignore his claim that he lost the culture war, when you see that folks like these are going to be going to dinner with Bush:
“I’m honored to be invited to this event,” Kulkis said. “Republicans bill themselves as the pro-business party. Well, you won’t find a group of people more pro-business than pornographers. We contributed over $10 billion to the national economy last year.”

Cognitive dissonance anyone? And best of all, a Presidential campaign is coming up! How many times do you think Frist or Santorum will hint that McCain is un-Christian?


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