Sunday, January 30, 2005

Putting the Bull Back Into Bullshit

In response to The Bull Moose’s comments on what Dems need to do to “fight back”, the Doctor drunkenly growls:

What in the hell crap was Mr. Bull Moose smoking, and how do we ensure that our kids don’t get their grubby little hands on the stuff? Not only does this Moose character foolishly state that America is a “fairly conservative country”, but he honestly seems to believe that the perception of the “liberal elite” and “activist judges” will make people shift their ideology. What a crock of shit.

The reality is that conservatives have lost the ideological war, and it wasn’t even close. America likes Social Security, and they like the FDA, and they like Medicare, and they like the FCC, and EPA, and all those other programs. They may bitch about these programs, but Americans have fully incorporated the idea that the government will solve our problems for us. Not all our problems, only the ones that it is capable of solving; for what is the government but a coalition of Americans striving to solve the problems which we as individuals cannot or will not solve ourselves. And that is the essence of society and the culmination of mankind’s power.

And so that’s why conservatives don’t even try anymore. During the campaign, Bush did not and could not claim that he wants to overturn Social Security or Medicare. He could not announce intentions to overturn the EPA. He never said that he’d overturn any liberal policy. That would be political suicide, and everyone knows it. But isn’t that the proof that America isn’t conservative? The reason Bush was re-elected was because he had to pretend to support a liberalish agenda. For example, he wants to get rid of Social Security, but he can’t say that. Instead, he has to market his agenda as a way of saving Social Security. Why would he have to say he was saving the program, unless he thought it was what people wanted to hear?

This hardly sounds like a conservative country. The reality is that the only reason the Republicans were able to take over our government is because they pretended to not be conservative. The biggest two items from Bush’s last term were both sold from a liberal perspective. Tax cuts were sold using the Keynesian idea that higher spending will increase demand and help the economy. The war in Iraq was a war of liberation, and the national security argument often included Clinton’s words. Additionally, No Child Left Behind pushed many liberal items that conservatives hated. Blue Skies was sold as a better way of decreasing pollution. I could go on and on. Hell, even the Faith-Based Initiatives were sold as a way of using government resources to help people do what they and their non-funded church couldn’t do alone. And that sounds like a liberal idea to me.

The greatest damage that the Bush admin caused wasn’t by pushing a conservative agenda, but rather from hiring conservatives to run the liberal government. And they could only do so because nobody pays enough attention to these details.

But it wasn’t enough to borrow the liberal agenda; they had to strip it from the liberals. So they started to demonize liberals by focusing on the egregious far-left liberals and pretending that they represented “typical” liberals. They pretend that Michael Moore and Sean Penn represent all liberals and that anyone who identifies themselves as "liberal" is represented by the far-lefties. They also started to identify anyone who wasn’t a rabid conservative as being a moderate conservative, moderate Conservatives as leaning Lib (George Will is seen by many now as being a moderate), and so forth. Unable to attack popular liberal initiatives, conservatives were forced to attack the liberals themselves.

All the Republicans have done is to shift the definitions of what it means to be a “liberal” or “conservative”. But realigning the political labels will do nothing to actually push a conservative agenda. You can convince someone that they should call themselves “conservative”, but that doesn’t mean they’ll support conservative ideology. They may support Bush, but they don’t want to give up their Social Security or other government programs. And the Bush PR Department knows this better than anyone.

What success means for conservatives is entirely dependent on what they intend to achieve. If they are simply trying to gain office and tinker with a few policies while stopping liberals from making more policies, they have already succeeded and will continue to do so. But the idea that these superficial adaptations can do anything to actually convert America into rabid conservatives is insane. It cannot work. Especially as conservatives can only win office by pretending to support liberal ideas. And with this push to kill Social Security, it looks like Bush is going to be learning this lesson soon.

Moral: The only way conservatives can gain power is by attacking liberals, but not by attacking liberal ideas. And that makes it impossible for them to actually enforce a conservative agenda. The more they undo liberal policies, the less protection they’ll have against the Americans they’ve been fooling.

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