A Reality Check for the Right Wing

I was reading Jon Fleischman’s column over on the Flash Report (I read Jon so you don’t have to), when this sentence, for a column critical of a Democratic appointment, struck me.

Given that liberals control the State Senate (you know the type, the ones who believe that if someone is a criminal, it is because ‘society’ let them down, not because of a lapse in individual responsibility)….”

I’d chime in with the Republicans convicted of corruption often trying to say “Democrats did it too” defense, but so much for the personal responsibility of people like Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Scooter Libby.

To Jon, and his hetero soul mate on the Register’s editorial pages, Mr. Greenhut, only Republicans and Republican ideals are good and noble, while liberals, Democrats and progressives are deemed “socialists” or against freedom and liberty. Go to Greenhut’s blog and count how many tiems he types “excellent” in front of descriptions for fliers he picked up at the GOP convention.  If it were a drinking game, we’d be blotto by now.

Stick a sock in it. 

When the GOP had the majority in Congress, we were told “tough, majority rules.” Now the same Republicans that told us where to stick in are crying about bi-partisanship.  In their writings, both Flieschman and Greenhut appeal to a return to the limited government values of Ronald Reagan, a man who never shrunk government as governor of California or as President of the United States.

So might I present this reality check from our friends at Politico.com.

The Republican Party Has Sold Out
By: Craig Shirley
February 14, 2007 08:41 PM EST

Now in the minority in Congress and saddled with an unpopular president and no ideology, the Republican Party may be in worse shape than it was in 1974 during the depths of Watergate. The GOP is so hopelessly confused it stands for precious little that Americans find attractive and may be in for a long walk in the wilderness.  

This is due, in part, to the war in Iraq. After the November elections, a CNN poll astonishingly found that more than 60 percent of Americans believe the GOP to be the party of “big government.”

After McCain-Feingold, prescription drug benefits, No Child Left Behind, the USA Patriot Act, lobbying scandals, bloated energy, farm and transportation bills and unrestricted growth of government along with invasion of personal privacy, who can blame them?

The GOP itself has been corrupted by a love of government and, as any student of the Founding Fathers will tell you, all but the most resolute will eventually be seduced by power.

The GOP has become its concubine. K Street Republican lobbying firms loutishly advertise their ability to get millions in graft for their clients, and many in the three co-joined Republican coalitions of national defense, social and economic conservatives (which ironically were brought together by an aversion to too much government) are, in their own ways, devotees of government. Some of their various leaders can more faithfully articulate why they need government better than they can state why they don’t need government.

The foreign policy right, which used to subscribe to the projection of power to only protect American interests, has become dominated by utopian neoconservatism, which substituted U.S. interests for the interests of all civilized nations. The economic right, whose libertarian roots stemmed from a desire to be freed from excessive government taxation and regulations, now supports corporate welfare, subsidies and amnesty for corporate executives who break the law by hiring illegal aliens.

Cynical politicians have manipulated the social right. Meddling in the Terri Schiavo case, banning gambling on the Internet and a constitutional amendment defining marriage have helped transform the conservative movement, which was once about the expansion of freedom, into “Big Christian Brother,” which is now concerned with the expansion of virtue.

It is the height of intellectual dishonesty for a political party to say, out of one side of its mouth, overturn Roe v. Wade because it believes behavioral issues belong at the state level, while out of the other side saying it needs to federalize the private act of marriage.

The conservative movement can — and possibly should — survive without the Republican Party. But the GOP is a dead duck without conservatism.

So conservatives would do well to ask themselves: Is Ronald Reagan’s minimalist government philosophy gone? Do they no longer subscribe to “maximum freedom consistent with law and order,” as the Gipper said in 1964? Or is the only thing left of Reaganism inside the movement and the GOP his rhetoric? Is his conservative/libertarian philosophy gone with only the windbags remaining?

The conservative movement can still heal itself and avoid a bloody civil war, but only if all factions are willing to give up their addiction with government, power and access and again embrace Reagan’s small government, do-it-yourself philosophy. The GOP, on the other hand, has not learned any meaningful lessons from November’s elections.

Resistant to changing its leadership or reconsidering its rendezvous with the oxymoronic “Big Government Conservatism,” the party could be in for a long winter of discontent.

Craig Shirley is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs in Alexandria and is author of “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All.” He is writing “Rendezvous with Destiny,” about the 1980 Reagan campaign.

By: Craig ShirleyFebruary 14, 2007 08:41 PM EST

  4 comments for “A Reality Check for the Right Wing

  1. RHackett
    February 17, 2007 at 11:01 am

    I think both of them live in a parallel universe devoid of any type of reality.

  2. Anonymous
    February 17, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Guys like Jon Fleischman remind me of the cartoon character who runs off the cliff, and keeps running until he’s over the edge of the cliff, then begins to fall.

    Core Republicans have lost the independents. On a national level, they are left with about 30% of the electorate as core supporters, and are floundering to find any Presidential candidate who might be divorced enough from Bush, Cheney, the neocons, and theocons to appeal beyond their core.

    In California, Scwarznegger has confounded the Republicans by first following their playbook with the disastrous special election, then rejecting them completely after it was obvious that they were complete losers as far as the electorate was concerned.

    So how do statewide Republicans respond? By electing a new state party leader who is more conservative and more partisan, but better at consolidating all power in areas where they have a higher level of support, turning every election into a partisan battle, in essence running the K Street project on the school board and City Council race in elections that are non-partisan.

    There’s a core group of politician / pundit / consultant / lobbyists, who make their living dipping into the government purse, then proclaiming that they support free enterprise. It’s time every progressive called foul on these phonies.

  3. February 17, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    this is a test comment. We’ve now got word verification.

  4. Publius
    February 17, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Muchas Gracias, Miguelito!

Comments are closed.