Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Republicans qua Conservative

Conservative - 1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

Does this appellation apply to the Republican Party? Nope. Not really. Just don't see it. Republicans as big business, yes. Republicans as other even less acceptable labels, yes. But conservative? Laughable.

So what happens when social conservatives begin to realize (finally) that Republicans are not fellow travelers? What do they call it when you try to hold two contradictory thoughts as true? Cognitive dissonance? I think I see lots of dissonance in what I read from self-described conservatives – mostly social conservatives. And I truly get it – in principle they voted for aggressive war, torture, spendthrift polices, the police state - none of which were on their agenda, and in return got exactly two Supreme Court justices who may or may not revisit Roe v Wade. They achieved nothing else of lasting import. I can sympathize with their feelings of betrayal and abandonment.

Not that I approve of almost any part of the social conservative agenda. Purity balls, abstinence only – actually, if you took sex and it's consequences out of the picture, I might approve of at least some of the agenda. Not the authoritarian part. The communitarian, distributist parts, perhaps.

So where do they go now? Libertarianism is out – too much choice. Democrats, whether or not they are the ONLY possible counterweight to the Republicans, are out because of abortion. I don't know what a social conservative is to do. There is talk of simply staying out of politics. There is some precedence in the Bible for that tack. But abortion remains a sticking point – you really can't accuse 2/3s of the nation of being at best an accessory to infanticide without simultaneously putting them, or you, beyond the pale.

I'd say this is a time for appropriate doubt in the faithful, but too many seem to have a pipeline to God on the issue of when a human being is actually present in the flesh. I guess such certainty is a good thing, but unfortunately for them, and for all of us, that certainty doesn't appear to be communicable.

FPR at least hints at the problem – every now and then I read about a social conservative who has become a disaffected Republican, adrift in the political sea with no landing in sight. It can't be fun.



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