Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yankee Talibanism, Sans Talibanism

Call me a sucker for any opinion column that speaks of "the gorilla in the pulpit," but I think Kathleen Parker makes a valid point or two in her account of what ails the Wide Stance party (alternate link).

[T]he evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
There's an intelligentsia in that party? Who knew? But seriously, I kid because I hate. And Parker has correctly identified the headwaters of that loathing:
So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners. ... Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows.
Testify, sister! While I can conceive of voting for a libertarian-leaning sort of politician hailing from the rightward end of the political spectrum given the right moon phase, wind speed, mood swing, blood-alcohol level, and lousy Democratic candidate, it's the anti-intellectual god-bothering stuff that keeps Wide Stance candidates -- perhaps especially the ones that go out of their way during campaign season to talk up their "moderate" bona fides -- firmly in the unthinkable category. I will never vote for the Taliban, either the Islamic variety or the home-team brand. Never.

That said, I am somewhere between confused and amused at Parker's "erstwhile conservative" and the implication, if I understand her correctly, that the party's Christianism represents a tragic departure from some lost conservative Eden, especially when she herself traces the anti-thinking rot to the 1980s. I've only been politically aware since the 1980s and its so-called "Reagan revolution," so claims that there exists a strain of conservatism not dominated by, or at least strongly seasoned by, know-nothing crypto-theocracy spiced with a few pecks of racism strike me as vacuous nostalgia for a long since bygone age.

If she is referring to some pre-1980s conservatism (Teddy Roosevelt? Hoover? Eisenhower? Nixon? Nixon?), she has done a poor job of outlining what it is, how it might be relevant going forward, or how it might appeal to existing and foreseeably existing American voters.

Subtract the Yankee Talibanism and what's left of the Wide Stance? The US Chamber of Commerce and its never-ending whine to allow business to avoid paying taxes or following rules -- in short, the Libertarian party, or a version of the Libertarian party that avidly embraces the chickenhawk martial virtues. I would be delighted to see this tried as the basis of a national party, and for the racists and Christianists to be forced to form a splinter party -- or better yet, relocate en masse to Israel where they can more directly prepare for Armageddon.*

* Not that I would wish that on the people currently living in Israel.


Paul said...

Could Parker be talking about Goldwater conservatism?

Dale said...

Paul, good question. I thought of that, and then i remembered that Goldwater's conservatism failed miserably when put up to a national vote and was replaced with Nixonism-Reaganism.

For all the talk of the purity of whatever Goldwater represented, I am not at all sure what it amounted to. If there was something durable to it, surely it would have been adopted and carried forward by now. My own view is that it has been carried forward -- we call it Nixonism-Reaganism.