Class Warfare Blog

June 11, 2012

Where are the Real Conservatives?

For about the last 20 years, oh so many of our bedrock institutions have succumbed to corruption and hubris. To name just a few: Wall Street, which went from serving its clients to serving its employees; Congress, which has gone from bad to worse, no longer even interested in doing the public’s business, the Catholic Church, which worries about how the widespread sexual abuse of altar boys will affect their image (WTF?), professional baseball and the steroids era, and the Supreme Court which has abandoned it’s lofty ideals (even if never actually met) to pander to whimsical political winds. Americans are expressing historically low levels of trust in their institutions.

We had gotten used to our federal government trumping up reasons for foreign policy actions (for example, almost everything we did in South and Central America had trumped up reasons, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, etc.) but now we have been treated to the most expensive war in our history (Iraq) for apparently no reason whatsoever, certainly not one that would make sense to a high school civics student.

Where are the supporters and defenders of our social institutions, our conservatives? Here is an edited excerpt from a prior post:

Oversimplification #1
Conservatives are people who yearn for an overly idealized past.

Realize that, of course, anything said about a large group of people doesn’t necessarily apply to any individual. Plus, I freely admit this is an oversimplification, so please don’t get your knickers in a twist.

Conservatives obviously have something they want to conserve. They want things to continue to be they way they were in the past. Many harken back to the way things were in the 1950’s and 1960’s, for example. Well, an incredible amount of picking and choosing has to go on for this to work. Would we want to go back to a time when women were refused jobs because they would be taking a job away from a man? (For those of you under 50, this was a standard practice in this time period.) Would we want to go back to racial segregation? Would we want to go back to black and white TV?

Oversimplification #2
Conservatives are people who prize group cohesion most highly.

For conservatives security comes with predictability. Since we adopted living in larger societies, family ties are insufficient to be able to control the future, so other institutions are needed, preferably ones with some authority to wield. (Conservatives, though, are very “pro-family,” whatever that means.) Conservatives are pro-business. While many conservatives extol the virtues of unfettered free market capitalism, when in political power, they provide legislative and tax breaks as well as outright subsidies for business interests. Conservatives are pro-religion. Conservatives’ interests in religion is not from a real family values or morality perspective (conservatives have moral and familial lapses as much as do liberals) but for the stabilizing influences that churches exert. Churches have rules and techniques to ensure people follow them. Conservatives are pro-military, being especially enamored of generals, people who wield authority for the military. Conservatives are anti-abortion primarily on religious grounds even though they take the stand that government should be “small” and not intrude upon the rights of individuals or businesses.

I don’t think I am far off from the conservative ideals to preserve what is good from the past and to support the stability to ordinary society that institutions like churches, the military, and “families” provide.

So where are the conservatives wringing their hands over the devastation to our institutions? Those conservatives possibly don’t exist any more, certainly in any numbers. (Let me see: George Will, David Brooks, Colin Powell, uh. . . .) If they do exist in numbers, they certainly aren’t “players.” In fact, those who are leading the destruction of our institutions are the Fox News conservatives, the Rush Limbaugh conservatives, the “new conservatives.” The major league team owners who looked to other way, the corporate executives who gave themselves huge bonuses as their businesses tanked, the U.S. Catholic Bishops who make the Pope look like a liberal, the Generals sending battle plans with Christian images and quotations woven in, the ministers preaching hatred (of Islam, for example) rather than tolerance, . . . , unfortunately the examples are endless.

These folks, these “new conservatives” have come in from the cold. Their vehicle? Money and the power that money provides. If you know any history, “progressives” and the Progressive Party came out of the Republican Party. Today “progressive” is a slur used by new conservatives to destroy a label any liberal or, well, progressive, might want to hide behind. The noveaux riches conservateur is “all for one, and one for one,” meaning themselves. What is good for them, not General Motors, is good for America. Period.

Aldous Huxley got it wrong. It is not the government we needed to fear, it is the corporations and their corrupt masters.

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