Analysis and rationality in a nonrational world

June 15, 2006

What’s a true (social) conservative to do?

Filed under: Government — analysis @ 2:22 pm

I think I am a true conservative, though given the takeover of the Republican Party by “neocons” – an odd mixture of theocrats, empire-builders, and corporatists – leaves me with no place to go.

Socially, I am definitely conservative. I am against the insane levels of sex and profanity in all forms of media, from television to radio to Hollywood to the newspaper’s latest SEX headlines. When I look at the two parties, though – the hippy-flavored Democrats and the stolid conservative Republicans – the only person I see who really tried to do anything about that was Tipper Gore, a liberal Democrat and the wife of the man who won the 2000 election in everything but law (when the Florida votes were recounted, they clearly showed that Gore was elected, despite widespread fraud by Jeb Bush and his compatriots, including tens of thousands of Democrats being ejected from voter rolls and allegations of military ballots being filled out by officers instead of the people who were supposed voting … that story did make a number of national newspapers, you can feel free to look it up, but by then it was “old news” and we were supposed to forget it.)

Anyway, to get back on track, the Republicans have held the Congress, the courts, and the White House for six years now, and this is what they have to show for it:

1) Unprecedented levels of corruption
2) Unprecedented numbers of generals publicly denouncing the president
3) Record deficits
4) Lots of criminal activity
5) Presidential declarations that laws do not apply to the president
6) Thousands of people held in jail for years without trial, accusation, or lawyers

Meanwhile, the situation in Hollywood, Nashville, and TV-land gets worse every year, to the point where commercials and prime-time TV seems to be invariably PG and R rated, and movies for children are filled with sex and realistic violence – violence that goes far beyond the westerns many of us grew up with. Horror movies meant for adults at one time are now aimed at children.

Part of the problem is that so many network and movie executives know where the money is; it’s in the gutter. As the Kinks said, “throw the Christians to the lions, sold out every night!” (It’s in the song “Give the People What They Want.”) The Republican Party has a special relationship with these executives: while a lot of movies do have a liberal bias, and many Hollywood stars are liberals, the owners are generally not. Indeed, the owners of the newspaper chains are almost invariably neocon-style Republicans, which is why Clinton got into much more trouble for a sleazy sex affair than Bush has for repeatedly breaking Federal laws and creating a deficit that is now estimated, for each of us, at well over $20,000 (it may have broken $30,000 by now). Naturally they don’t want to offend those people.

Part of the problem is the idea that government should never regulate industry. Current neocon Republicans, unlike real conservatives, believe that the government should intrude into every facet of citizens’ lives, and spend a lot of time explaining away personal RFID tags (on passports), warrantless wiretapping, use of library and book store records (which is quite extensive, according to lawsuits filed by librarians), and the use of torture on citizens, again without any judicial foresight or knowledge. That stuff is, according to these scum who call themselves conservatives, perfectly fine. On the other hand, government oversight of corporations is evil to these people. Thoreau, the quintessential (if a bit whiny and self-righteous) libertarian, would never extend human rights to corporations, I suspect. He believed in independence and personal responsibilty and frugality, not unashamed, total greed and unchecked government and corporate authority over the individual. What it boils down to is that individual freedom of speech has been checked fairly well, down to keeping demonstrators from ever getting within sight of the president or other key officials, and with people subject to being “disappeared” and tortured to death in another country by the NSA; but corporations have the freedom to be as sleazy as they like in certain fields.

Since we’re talking about social conservatism, I am pointing to the Family Hour of television and similar rules that once existed to protect our children and to keep our society up to a certain standard of civil behavior and mutual respect. There was once a time when it was recognized that use of public airwaves was a responsibility, and networks had to provide reasonably balanced and responsible news coverage, porn-free TV during certain hours, and educational television. Networks were very profitable when these laws were in place, albeit before the widespread use of cable. Ronald Reagan, who pretended to be conservative but never did much to actually be conservative, ended all that, with the results that you see today.

Instead, we have a Republican Party that pretends to be conservative by fighting two rare things, gay marriage and flag-burning. Flag-burning pretty much died in the 1960s and nobody in the US seems to do it now; rather a waste of time to make that into a law, I’d say, especially when the Congress could save hundreds of billions of dollars by investigating waste and fraud in Iraq. (War profiteering has always been a problem, but FDR did a lot to fight it in WWII.) As for gay marriage, well, I find it hard to care that much about it, especially since it’s only allowed in a couple of states, and one of those states is moving to ban it anyway. I’m more concerned about the slide of society downwards into a pit that would be familiar to the ancient Romans.

I really don’t know what to do. I am repelled by the remnants of hippies in the Democratic party, but even more repelled by the Bible-thumping, individual-rights-repealing, corporate-rights-giving, freedom-stealing, vote-stealing posturing of the Republicans. I miss the old-time Republicans – the Rockefellers, the Roukemas, the Eisenhowers, the Gerald Fords, and, yes, the Nixons.

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