So much ink and pixels have been spilled of late, all attempting to explain the modern conservative zeitgeist. What has possessed the Republicans, the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, to drive them to such extremes?
Where did the chaos – the craziness – come from? There are many theories on offer in the blogosphere.
Are conservatives motivated by fear of the other, fear of immigrants, Muslims, and so forth, as ED Kain suggests? Are they authoritarian, reactionary anti-progressives, the modern version of the Confederacy, as Corey Robin posits? Are they fueled by hate, racism, and vindictiveness, the desire to punish the black man in the White House, as Andrew Sullivan writes?
These are fascinating intellectual and academic diversions, but they unfortunately bring us no closer to explaining what it is we see emanating from the right wing blogosphere, from cable television and talk radio, and from Republican lawmakers themselves. We cannot read the minds and understand the hearts of conservatives. But we can read history. We can look at the practical, tangible timeline of events that has lead the Republican party to its current iteration.
After all, conservatism is just an ideology, an idea. It can be whatever we want it to be. But the US government, along with its two political parties, isn’t an idea. It’s a real-life institution.
This is the lens through which we should view the modern conservative movement. When we stop psychoanalyzing conservatives and instead look at the facts, the answers to our questions become clear.
What happened to the Republican Party? Simple. George W. Bush happened. Continue Reading →