When I first started blogging I was obsessed with the decidedly non-conservative nature of the modern, self-described “conservative Republican”. (Or, as a friend of mine humorously noted, “Neocons are neither.”)
The GOP has always suffered from a political “multiple personality disorder”. There were the big government, national security state brown shirts and the small government, civil libertarians who just wanted government out of their lives and, even, out of business. I was in the latter group at a time when there was still room for us in the Republican Party. Those days are long gone.
Llewellyn (Lew) Rockwell, a Libertarian thinker of the highest order, has summed up the new Republican philosophy very well in a recent article in the American Conservative:
If there are conservatives who believe in true liberty today, they were called liberals in earlier times. And any socialists today who call themselves liberals have simply stolen the term and converted it to mean its opposite.
The reality is that today there are ever fewer conservatives alive who believe in true liberty as the old school believed in it. They have been ideologically compromised beyond repair. They have been so seduced by the Bush administration that they have become champions of an egregious war, ghastly bureaucracies like the Department of Homeland Security, and utterly unprincipled on the question of government growth.
Granted, the corruption of conservatism dates way back—to the Reagan administration, to the Nixon administration, and even to the advent of the Cold War, when conservatives signed on to become cheerleaders of the national security state.
But it’s never been as bad as it is today. They sometimes invoke the names of genuinely radical thinkers such as F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. But their real heroes are talk-radio blabsters, television entertainers, and sexpot pundit quipsters. They have little intellectual curiosity at all.
In many ways, today’s conservatives are party men and women not unlike those we saw in totalitarian countries, people who spout the line and slay the enemy without a thought as to the principles involved. Yes, they hate the Left. But only because the Left is the “other.”
The money line there is: “They have little intellectual curiosity at all” Some of them may be literate enough to take their cues from National Review or the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal but, let’s face it, most of them get their marching orders from Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and [fill-in-the-blank].
White House staffers tell the president what to think; talking points go out to the pundits; the pundits hold forth for the benefit of the great unwashed.
At the height of its power, the Soviet Union didn’t “do” propaganda half as well as these people “do” it. At least the Russians had to deal with a population that retained a modest portion of their critical thinking skills.
The lies proliferate and they’re swallowed whole:
- “The president is keeping us safe.”
- “The root cause of Islamic terrorism is a hatred of the Bill of Rights and open societies.”
- “Hezbollah — not al Quaida — is a the world’s most dangerous terror organization.” (Condi Rice actually said that!!)
And the biggest lie of all: “We can defeat Islamic extremism with bombs.”