I’m not trying to be a prick (though I’m sooo good at it), but I have to yet again disagree with Glenn Greenwald. He wrote yesterday: “our country has been run exclusively by conservatives for virtually all of the last six years.”
But that’s only sorta true. The real truth is that our country has been run exclusively by Republicans for the last six years, many of whom had been lifelong conservatives who had given up their conservativism in exchange for being on the winning team. Because we always have to make the distinction between Republicans and conservatives. Republicans are the assholes who like to win elections while screwing people over, while conservatives are the assholes who just like to screw people over.
I know, those two options sound depressingly similar, but there’s a huge difference in where their sympathies lie. Because a Republican will gladly go against the free-market system, enlarge government control, or even raise taxes; if it helps them win elections. Heck, Nixon himself created the EPA and OSHA; and he’s the chief poohbah for modern Republicans. For them, the only overriding principle is that they win, and they’d prefer to do so using deceit and treachery and strong-arm tactics.
But conservatives are different, as they’re totally willing to offend people and believe in a completely unpopular agenda if it helps them feel better about themselves. They’re extremists who prefer to live in a fantasy world in which they only lose elections due to a biased media and lying, cheating Dems. Because they “know” that they’ve got commonsense on their side, as well as a big majority of the country.
Oh, and to keep things consistent with what I’ve said in the past, I should emphasize that some Republicans are never conservative. That would be Karl Rove, who would do or say anything to win; as well as most of the rightwing pundits like Jonah Goldberg and Ann Coulter. As I’ve argued before, Goldberg in particular doesn’t seem to understand even the basic concepts of being conservative, to the point that he thinks an accurate portrayal of conservatives is a weird strawman invented by Dems to make conservatives look stupid. William F. Buckley would be rolling in his grave if he had the sense of shame enough to be in one.
So you should keep in mind that this only applies to conservatives, and not all Republicans. A longtime conservative can trade-in his ideology for a shot at political victory, but a longtime Republican will never adopt the conservative ideology beyond his political needs.
And really, I suspect that Republicanism is conservativism in practice. The place where the rubber hits the road. Because straightforward conservativism just won’t win elections and has to be decorated up and compromised. You’ve got to pay people off. You’ve got to please different groups. And you’ve got to put a strong enough foot into the real world that you know how the political landscape feels. It’s all about winning the next election. But then they quickly hit the point at which they’ve compromised everything, particularly when the original belief system was so theoretical to begin with.
In the end, conservatives believe what they do as a means to rationalize their selfishness, while Republicans believe what they do because it helps them win. But neither group has any real hardcore beliefs about anything. When conservatives rail against Big Government, corruption, and all that other hoohaw, it’s really just a big excuse. And it all comes down to selfishness and a demand to rearrange the world around their particular needs and desires. They only oppose Big Government when it doesn’t directly benefit them; and even then, they’ll gladly accept any government benefit, while loudly proclaiming that the government doesn’t help “self-reliant” people like themselves. How else to explain why red states are far more likely to receive more federal tax dollars than they payout? Yet they always imagine the opposite to be true.
But in regards to conservatives blaming Republicans for failing the cause, the truth is that every conservative gave-up on their ideology at some point in this debacle, and most of them stayed for almost the full duration. They all supported policies that were entirely against the conservative ways and just didn’t give a damn. They just wanted to beat the Democrats. And each one of them had their breaking point at which they denounced the party and moved back into their comfort zone, using conservativism as a sort of bunker to protect them from the demands of reality. A place to hideout and snipe, pretending as if they weren’t being repudiated by the Republican failure they had so wholeheartedly signed up for. And that goes for pre-2004 converts like Andrew Sullivan as much as our more recent turncoats. They might attack Republicans, but they remain outside the boundaries of the reality-based community.
And so they’ve crawled back into their fantasy universe and continue to take potshots at the people who are stuck living in the real world. And unfortunately for Bush, the Republican defeat in this recent election has now put him solidly in that category. They’ve all dashed back into their fortress of fantasy, leaving Bush as the scapegoat for all they did wrong. As it turns out, being Republican is merely the suit a conservative wears when they want to go out on the town.