Much to my surprise, I opened the Chicago Tribune today to find what amounts to a confessional column by conservative stalwart Jonah Goldberg. It starts like this:
“I’ve been hearing about the impending “conservative crackup” for nearly 25 years. The term was coined by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., the founder of the American Spectator. He meant that conservatism had lost its philosophical coherence. But the phrase almost instantly became a catchall for any prediction of the right’s imminent demise or dissolution.”
What he really means to say, but hasn’t the actual courage to admit, is that conservatism was a falsehood from the beginning of its “revolution.” That would be the attempt, since the Reagan years, to cobble together a band of dissolute believers into some sort of conservative whole. But true Christianity never really had much to do with fiscal conservatism, and the pro-gun capitalists have never really squared intentions with the anti-abortion socialists. It’s true. Conservatism ultimately sinks under the weight of its own contradictions.
That was always the problem. That conservative whole rapidly turned into a conservative hole, as in, “we keep digging a bigger one.” The entire political philosophy of the movement has been to dig a hole under government in hopes that it will sink below the surface, never to be seen again.
Reagan even proudly stated that government was not the solution, it was the problem. How anyone can say that and continue to serve as President of the United States proves that he 1) has a hole in his head 2) lacks conscience and 3) has a cognitive dissonance in his political philosophy. You simply can’t head up a government and claim it is the main problem. That’s impossible to do. With any sort of true logic, anyway.
But conservatism is not about logic. It is about ideology. And to a major extent, the hole-digging philosophy has worked wonders in taking our nation and government down a rabbit hole.
The rabbit hole is always about money. Conservatives have tried repeatedly to cut taxes. With each new wave of tax cuts, the nation has gone further into the hole.
Conservatives have even purposefully shut down the government. That threw our country into the hole with nations around the world. All that accomplishes was to sink the nation’s credit rating.
In fact everything conservatives have tried to “fix” in America has sunk its standing here at home and around the world.
The most recent Bush years resorted again to tax cuts and like Reagan, bloated military spending. That resulted in an economy running on fumes and led to a crash that was a grand imitation of the Great Depression (get the joke? A Depression is a hole.)
This time the hole created by big banks had to be filled with public money just to keep America afloat in the cesspool of speculative losses and the brain dead activities of The Fed.
But it seems that no matter how much America’s economy is sputtering there is somehow always money to buy guns, ships, bombs and jet planes. It seems the only answers conservative have to social and economic failures is to spend more money on the military. Conservatives consider the military America’s backbone, but along with the auto industry, the Bush years essentially required bailouts for both.
But conservatives aren’t all failures. Let’s not forget the thriving porn, gambling and fantasy league industries. And while we’re at it, don’t neglect the success of the sex trade and human trafficking, which experiences hard spikes whenever there’s a Republican convention in town.
Perhaps it’s no wonder that even America’s leading conservative spokesperson, Rush Limbaugh, is having his doubts about the future of conservatism (itself an oxymoron.)
The four-time divorced, prescription-medicine-addicted Limbaugh has never done a single positive thing for the nation. Yet somehow he remains a voice for conservative interests because he’s angry, impatient and selfish. That’s the calling card of any respected conservative. But right now, even Limbaugh is confused and disgusted by the present state of conservatism in America.
Jonah Goldberg quotes Limbaugh this way: “Forget the name is Trump. If a candidate could ‘guarantee to’ fix everything that’s wrong in this country the way the Republican Party thinks it’s wrong, if it were a slam dunk, if it were guaranteed, that candidate will still be opposed by the Republican Party establishment. … If he’s not part of the clique, they don’t want him in there.”
And that, my friends, is because conservatism is a longstanding failure. Anyone who seems like a threat to show up the “establishment” is deemed a danger. This is especially true for a man like Trump, whose racist, misogynist, xenophobic rants sound all too much like what most Republicans generally keep secret and only repeat in the back rooms of posh hotels or speaking engagements featuring Mitt Romney or Oliver North. That’s how the “establishment,” as it were, is accustomed to conducting business.
Now that their methods and ideology have been exposed, the hole they’ve dug is looking uglier than ever. It’s much harder to shovel people into their economic and social graves when they can see clearly what’s coming. Trump has revealed what’s in store on the Republican highway. It’s a sinkhole of angry prejudice and ego. Even his supporters aren’t sure he won’t shove them in with the rest of the stinking masses.
In other words, conservatism is digging a deep and terminal highway to hell. We should never forget that Ronald Reagan, the conservative scion who started all this hole-digging, had one of the most corrupt administrations in the modern era. His Iran-Contra affair should have resulted in impeachment. Instead, he walked while his minions took the fall. America forgave the Old Man his transgressions because it seemed impossible he wanted to hurt anyone.
Mick Jagger and the Stones tried to warn us about falling for the sweet words of men like Ronald Reagan. People who seem like heroes often turn out to be the greatest offenders of all. This verse from Sympathy for the Devil seems rife with predictive merits about how the world is working these days.
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint
Yes, conservatives have long pointed to Reagan as their hero. But he was the devil in disguise. Conservatives have long refused to recognize that Ronnie the Saint dug a deep budget hole of his own through tax cuts and military spending.
Then along came the Bush family, a pack of smiling devils if there ever was one, and picked up where Reagan left off. At least Bush Sr. (Read My Lips, No New Taxes) showed some restraint by not entering Bagdad with the American army. He recognized that the Saddam Hussein was a devil with a purpose. So we walked away from that hellhole the first time.
But conservatives and the Bush family couldn’t restrain its crazed fury the second time around. Georgie (that smiling devil) unleashed eight years of conservative chaos at home and abroad. It started with a stolen election. That was followed by the 9/11 tragedy. Then a mess of a hurricane called Katrina along with an Iraq war of choice that cost America trillions of dollars. The ugliness of that scene also led to approval of torture and war profiteering on scales never before attempted. Yet Cheney succeeded in shoveling billions into the maw of Halliburton and other hellborne partnerships.
Like the American devils we are, we went to Iraq on false pretenses, and 4000 soldiers died. Many more were wounded. But perhaps that was somehow a precursor for the economic crash that followed, and millions of people lost their jobs and life savings. The hole dug by conservative ventures threatened to swallow American whole.
Yes, the conservative crackup is finally here. It is long overdue and well-deserved. Some of us have also long tried to expose the hole-digging habits of men like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Dennis Hastert (now indicted for hiding sexual abuse and making illegal payoffs) as well as Newt Gingrich and the entire racist, gun-toting cabal that conservatism embraces. These forces of evil have undermined the very foundations of our country.
So thank you, Jonah Goldberg, for finally admitting what those of us who follow conservative politics have known all along. The conservative cause is a black hole of empty suits and people who lack the conscience to ever do the right thing. Ever.
And of course, now they have Donald Trump to blame for exposing the decaying foundations of conservatism as a movement. He’s a man of absolutely zero conscience, or perhaps less.
As Goldberg states: “There’s no shortage of reasons for why the right is at war over whether or not to take a flier on Trump. All of the various establishments and the counter-establishments overpromised and underdelivered in recent years. Congressional leaders talked a big game while campaigning but played small ball once re-elected. Cruz and his supporters accused his fellow politicians of being corrupt sellouts, and so many people believed him, they’d now rather take a gamble on Trump than back Cruz, a mere politician. Tomorrow seems closer than ever before.”
Goldberg’s lament is long overdue. But these are sad, difficult days. The hole dug by Republicans is now a permanent fixture of the American landscape. We’re all staring into the abyss together. Yet all Republicans can think to say is, “This must be your fault. We don’t know really how to dig holes.” They regard their own actions as bastard sons to be disowned and foisted on the public where profits are privatized and the losses are socialized. Then they call us the suckers for believing in the power of socialism to fix public ills.
Fearful conservatives are afraid that men like Bernie Sanders will try to fill the hole they created with public funds and tax money. Sanders (and Democrats in general, to some degree) actually want to require American corporations to stop burying money in the backyard with offshore accounts. President Obama has his chums on Wall Street, but he’s done a decent job of at least ushering America away from a perilous edge of conservative holiness, which is in truth is unholiness. But we still need to figure out how to fill this moral, social and economic vacuum created by conservative credulity.
And God Forbid we should actually try to level the playing field for the middle class. Conservatives call that “transfer of wealth” when in fact the most massive transfer of wealth in history has occurred right before our eyes, from middle class to the superwealthy. As a direct result, Americans have been falling into a financial hole by running up credit card debt while making something like 50 cents on the dollar compared to comparable worth of earnings 40 or 50 years ago.
Perhaps the best thing we can do with the Republican whole is to herd the lot of them to the edge and drive them over it with a bulldozer. Let their bloated political bodies (starting with Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, to name a few) serve as ballast until America can decide how to repair its crumbling infrastructure and bury the rotting timbers of the Republican platform.
It’s time to say good riddance to the likes of Jonah Goldberg (and his National Review, the worst rag on the earth) along with Charles Krauthamer and his shrill counterpart, Ann Coulter. We should have no sympathy for these devils, the people that have cheerleaded Republican thievery for decades. Yes, Democrats mess things up too, but usually by mistake, or by overeager hearts. By contrast, the soulless theft by Republicans is calculated, cruel and merciless. That makes for a much more abrupt and even brand of hole, not the gradual kind you get from erosion, or a flood of overeager hopes.
The only near term salvation may be that the hole dug by Republicans might temporarily reach all the way to hell. We can be sure a few of them will be welcome guests for what they’ve said and done to this nation.