GOP v. Conservatives
Thursday, October 20, 2005 :::
The TD editorial page offers its thoughts on the topic I raised yesterday regarding conservatives and the Republican party:
Nobody has filed divorce papers yet. But the dirty little secret in Washington is that the relationship always has been a union of convenience. Fiscal conservatives have been dismayed by a White House under which domestic spending has grown faster than at any time since the Johnson administration. Paleoconservatives dislike Bush's Wilsonian approach to foreign policy. Social conservatives have split over the Miers nomination.
The phrase "big-government conservatism" appears 220 times in a Nexis search going back to Bush's inauguration; 196 of those citations appear within the past two years. Yet committed conservatives face the same unhappy dilemma confronted by hard-core liberals during the Clinton era: Where else are they going to go? Not to the Democratic Party, and certainly not to the Green.
Perhaps as a result, a definitional debate has begun. On one side are those who contend any criticism of Bush, the GOP, or Republican leaders amounts to liberalism by another name. On the other are those who believe the conservative movement is rooted in principles that are bigger than personalities or political party.
This is probably much closer to the point I was attempting to make yesterday. It is a debate over definitions, as much as it is a clash of visions. The Jaded JD provides a lengthy, thought-provoking post that defines the various fissures, pressure points and conflicts of vision inside the GOP. And while I do not always agree with my learned opponent, his post shows me that we have a great deal in common. And I suggest that should he ever wish to re-form the Sons of Liberty, I will gladly join.
But the TD op-ed struck me in what it does not say. Conservatives will not find a home among the Democrats or the Greens. They do not mention the Libertarians.
And probably with good reason. The LP is more like a debating society than a political movement. Should the day come when the LP decides it's time to move out of its mom's basement and start facing reality, then maybe there will be a place and party where those disenchanted with the GOP could find a home.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 10/20/2005