The Empty Shell of Movement Conservatism

conservatism, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

George Will writes a floundering column about what a shame it is that Romney is the most “electable” GOP candidate running for office. “Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?” Will wails.

Alexander Burns clarifies at Politico,

Even as Republicans come around to the idea that Romney may be their strongest opponent for President Obama, many are still convinced that a Romney presidency would represent a historic missed opportunity for the right.

At a moment in history when the Democratic incumbent in the White House ought to be extremely vulnerable, not to mention a Republican majority in both houses of Congress easily within reach, the Republican presidential field looks like a collection of rejects from the Island of Misfit Toys. And the one candidate who might possibly win the general election is, in some ways, the biggest “misfit” of all — someone movement conservatism considers to be an outsider.

How did this happen? How is it that such a dominant movement does not have a “deep bench,” so to speak, of respectable candidates that the establishment could market to the masses?

Part of the answer, IMO, is that “movement conservatism” has long been an empty shell of a movement. Beneath the facade of long-discredited ideas and deceptive talking points are nothing but resentment, bigotry, greed, and a deep sense of privileged entitlement.

Plus, the several factions within it don’t seem interested in going in the same direction. The neocons these days seem well outnumbered by isolationist social conservatives, for example, although the neocons still have a pretty big media megaphone.

On top of that, years of “politicking” with nothing but lies and dog whistles have left Republicans with a base that is utterly out of touch with majority public opinion, not to mention reality. Any candidate who might clean up well enough to have a shot at the general election couldn’t possible pass muster with the base.

I’m not saying that movement conservatism is about to dissolve away into the political ether. The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy still has the money and the media. And between gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, they are as much as glued into federal and state legislatures. I expect them to continue to hold power way out of proportion to their actual support among voters for many years to come.

No, I’m just explaining to George Will how movement conservatism came to this.

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  1. Felicity  •  Oct 29, 2011 @11:59 am

    A deep fear of change has long defined the conservative. Hopefully, that and the blindness and deafness to the dissatisfaction of the electorate will spell their temporary relegation to the political hinterlands.

    History is loaded with incidences when leaders/governments refused to recognize what was staring them in the face: Czar Nicholas’s refusal to acknowledge the plight of his subjects; the Popes who refused to recognize the corruption that defined Catholicism at the time; George III’s refusal to acknowledge the rising resentment of the American colonies; the French Louis whose profligacy cost them their heads are only a few examples of the blindness and deafness that seem to afflict the powerful when acknowledging what was happening might have saved their sorry selves.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 29, 2011 @12:59 pm

    Since “Movement Conservatism” really started to get a lot of traction and power, fairly right wing Republicans evolved into the Conservative Democrats, the moderate Conservatives became the Blue Dog Democrats, and the old ‘Rockefeller Republicans” became Moderate Democrats.

    The only thing missing more and more over the last 30 years is real Democrats! Especially LIBERAL Democrats – with apologies to the late Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone, the defeated Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders and Al Franken in the Senate, and a couple of handfuls of others in the House.

    And to this day, racist/misogynist/xenophobic/homophobic hatred rules the masses of Conservative morons, and “Divide and Conquer” works on the ignorati masses who vote against their best interests because of that.

    A fine kettle of fish!
    With 99% of the people chum, and 1% sharks.

  3. Swami  •  Oct 29, 2011 @1:41 pm

    What’s wrong with Bachmann as a candidate? I think she’d make a good President. A well balanced gal if you ask me.

  4. maha  •  Oct 29, 2011 @2:25 pm

    Bachmann is so well balanced even some of the baggers are telling her to quit. “Too crazy for baggers” deserves to be a listing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

  5. Jen  •  Oct 29, 2011 @3:06 pm

    Maha, please add like buttons to comments.

  6. maha  •  Oct 29, 2011 @4:02 pm

    Maha, please add like buttons to comments.

    I would if I knew how. Adding new features always turns into a project.

  7. buckyblue  •  Oct 29, 2011 @3:18 pm

    I’ve often wondered this. How bad is a ‘movement’ that produces as its leaders people like Perry, Romney, Bachman or Newt. Certainly tells you something about them. The last three Democratic presidents have either taught in top-notch law schools or had a PhD. I do think the Republican field is so poor because they never have to deal with real policy issues, you know, solving problems. They have a list that they go off of when deciding how to ‘solve’ a problem. They’re like Chatty Cathy dolls; pull the string and hear “Cut Taxes”, or “Cut Regulation”. And that’s all they’ve got. They don’t deal in reality, they deal in fantasy, when you then ask them a question, not even a hard one, they are deer in headlights lost.

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 29, 2011 @4:58 pm

    Be careful.
    Steve M. went to move a couple of links or something, and now his blog looks completely different!

  9. maha  •  Oct 29, 2011 @7:22 pm

    Steve M. went to move a couple of links or something, and now his blog looks completely different!

    I saw. He and I are working with different platforms, but with either one if you’re not a technogeek, adding new features is a scary thing. You might remember it took me a year and a half to get a comment preview that worked. People write add-on code that you’re supposed to be able to plug in to your admin page to add features, but half the time they don’t work, and sometimes they can crash the page, and then I have to hire a technogeek to go in and fix it.

  10. Bonnie  •  Oct 29, 2011 @6:47 pm

    The Empty Shell of Movement Conservatism exists because the people who inhabit movement conservatism are empty shells of human beings.

  11. moonbat  •  Oct 29, 2011 @8:16 pm

    What’s really sad about our system, and which speaks volumes about how crippled it is, is not dominance by the empty shell of movement conservativism, the but the utter impotence of liberalism (or anything else) to kick it aside. Over and over, years of wailing about the horrors of conservative misrule – and I’ve done my share and then some – misses the point – where is liberalism or any other vibrant competing ideology that would dispatch this sorry wreck? Most of us hoped it would appear in the guise of Barack Obama, but we know how that turned out.

  12. Doug Hughes  •  Oct 29, 2011 @8:41 pm

    Charles Shultz defined the current conservative philosophy succinctly, “There is no problem so complicated that it can’t be run away from.”

    They have no answers for the problems of the 99%. The GOP presidential candidates are all working full-time for the 1%. Way too many democrats are sold-out to some degree, but no democrat flaunts his prostitution to the rich with the devotion of the GOP today.

  13. grok  •  Oct 29, 2011 @8:49 pm

    Part of the answer, IMO, is that “movement conservatism” has long been an empty shell of a movement. Beneath the facade of long-discredited ideas and deceptive talking points are nothing but resentment, bigotry, greed, and a deep sense of privileged entitlement.

    Extraordinarily well said. In some ways, they simply cannot, ever, win: their true aims, motivations, ambitions and stated rhetoric is so completely at odds with itself. This begs the question how they could be so popular… ?

    A large portion of the white population over the age of 40 spent their formative years in a culture of legalized racism… belligerently so in the south, but really over the entire country. Once racism was legally banned, those same whites spent their adolescent and teen years watching their parents and peers make a choice: either accept the new reality or be consumed with rage and bitterness for the ‘insult’ that derives from the government refusing to let them treat blacks with contempt: emancipation of the colored was seen as emasculation of whites, and some of the whites have never recovered from that.

    This is the choice given to all Americans born in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s: some, like Clinton ran to the other side of the tracks as fast as they could go; others more tepidly accepted the system; still others doubling down on the rhetoric and racism: Those particular government regulations that prevent lynchings are the ones they’re really upset about.

    The common rebuttal to this line of reasoning is to point out that so much time has passed how could anybody still be beholden to the past so strongly? To which I say three things: don’t underestimate the memory of a people who feel they’ve been emasculated (even if they weren’t…); two, racists have their own cadre of ‘intellectuals’ who’ve grown fat and happy on the proceeds of continuous fire stoking, propaganda, fear and greed; and three, others have internalized their rage very early in life and are just now coming to positions of influence and power as a result of impulses and compulsions they don’t fully understand themselves…

  14. Bill Bush  •  Oct 29, 2011 @10:12 pm

    What grok said! Much better put than my earlier efforts on this theme.

  15. erinyes  •  Oct 30, 2011 @6:11 am

    I’m not quite in agreement with Grok’s comment.
    While racism plays a part in the equasion, it’s a bigger combination of “Us” vs “Them”.
    To a conservative, “Us” includes white Christians who proudly fly the flag at their door all the time, watch FOX news, have a distrust of Muslims ( whose agenda is to take over the US via. reproduction, then installing Sharia Law), Do not believe in welfare, hate paying taxes, believe “the Government is evil and wasteful (except for the military, which some how is NOT “the Government”).
    Conservatives generally also do not like immigrants, especially Latino immigrants, unless they came from Cuba and are anti tax anti government government employees.
    There seems to be a curious pass for blacks and minorities in the GOP.
    Bobby Jindal, Michael Steel, Alan Keys, Juan Williams, Herman Cain to name a few. And while sexism also features in the GOP, they have their women like Bachmann and Palin, and to a lesser degree, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, The FOX news models, and DR. Laura. It seems that the ladies have to be “hot” and bitchy or “hot” and stupid.( “hot” meaning attractive to a 60 something male)
    The big picture of the GOP and the conservative movement is not pretty
    It’s simply less of everything for everyone except the anointed few at the top, and that’s great because some day, you may end up on top if you work real hard and pray.
    So Bonnie, you just read the long winded rant of what you said in about 20 words.

  16. maha  •  Oct 30, 2011 @9:54 am

    erinyes — I agree with what you say. Having grown up in an all-white (by law, back then) community in the 50s and 60s, it seems to me that the racism of, say, 1955 was a different critter from racism today. Today it’s not as simple as “all white good, all black bad.” Even most social conservatives accept integration these days, and most of the bitter-enders who don’t have learned to shut up about it. Race is not the litmus test of acceptability it used to be, although it remains a major ingredient in the resentment soup.

    Keep in mind that in some other countries “race” is as much determined by social factors as by physical features and skin color. There are low-caste ethnic groups all over the world who don’t look different from the higher caste races in their culture. Caste can be determined by speech, clothing, or occupation such as the Burakumin of Japan. In the “us versus them” world of Righties, some blacks and some women are accepted as “us.”

    As with sexism, the Right has evolved to a point that some members of the once-unacceptable group can become acceptable if they meet certain criteria. One of those is denying that discrimination exists. They genuinely want to believe that if blacks have a harder time getting jobs, for example, it is entirely their own fault.

    At the same time, the old traditional inequalities must still be honored in subtle ways, and Cain has to give the impression that he has left the world of blacks and has allied himself with whites. I think Cain’s political career would be over tomorrow if he were caught so much as shaking hands with “bad” blacks like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.

    By the same token, conservative women are expected to defer to the totems of male dominance, such as guns, and at least put out the vibe they are sexually submissive to their husbands. Ann Coulter is an exception to that last part, but Coulter has made a career of insulting the masculinity of liberals.

    So it would not surprise me at all if some of the same righties who think jokes involving watermelons and the First Family are funny — turn around and vote for Cain.

  17. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2011 @10:40 am

    Without using the offensive “n” word – there were house slaves, and then there were field slaves.
    The house slaves were treated with some trappings of ‘family,’ the field slaves were treated like beasts of burden The food and sleeping arrangements were often completely different.
    And if there was trouble, the understanding was that the house slaves would join with the family against those terrible ‘animals.’
    Condi, Keyes, and Cain are house slaves. MLK, Obama, and Van Jones, were/are not part of the house staff, ergo, the must be part of those terrible ‘animals,’ beasts of the worst sort.
    Apply this to women and any and all ethnic groups. They’re already beginning to defend Republican/Conservative gay members, or at least try to confuse the issues. So, how long before being gay’s completely ok if you’re part of THEIR family?
    And as for Muslims, it may be a ways off, but all they’ll have to do is do the agree with everything that’s said to get in the house – including that Jesus is either the only true Prophet, or at least a ‘truer’ Prophet.

    You see, it’s ok to be different from them – as long as you’re the same as them!

  18. maha  •  Oct 30, 2011 @11:31 am

    The house slaves were treated with some trappings of ‘family,’

    Often the house slaves were family, in the literal sense, although the white folks all pretended to not notice.

  19. Swami  •  Oct 30, 2011 @11:59 am

    Sally Hemings! 🙂

  20. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2011 @12:59 pm

    Well, the family that slaves together, stays together…

  21. Swami  •  Oct 30, 2011 @6:16 pm

    ♥ Tommy & Sally forever ♥

  22. Swami  •  Oct 31, 2011 @12:51 am

    “I’m rubber, you’re glue…whatever you say to me, bounces off me, and sticks to you!”

  23. Swami  •  Oct 31, 2011 @12:53 am

    Hey, who put the pubic hair in herman’s pizza? 🙂

  24. erinyes  •  Nov 1, 2011 @6:18 am

    Clarence Thomas?

  25. Swami  •  Nov 1, 2011 @8:16 am

    Cain can’t “honestly” remember.. Such a lame cop out. He’d be better off if he just fessed up and claimed that you can’t blame a guy for wanting to get a little extra sugar. The ho was just over reacting?

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