Archive for Sunday, September 14, 2008

Republicans stray from conservative roots

September 14, 2008


So it seems George W. Bush is not really conservative.

Nor are Mitt Romney, John McCain and, indeed, the vast majority of the Republican Party. Or so I'm told by a number of readers who took exception to a recent column lambasting Romney for his speech at the GOP convention. In it, Romney declared that the way to fix Washington is to turn it over to conservatives. If you didn't know any better, said I, you'd think conservatives had not been in charge most of the last decade. This kind of babblespeak, I argued, has become increasingly characteristic of the political right.

Except, according to my correspondents, those conservatives in charge weren't really conservative at all. As Roy from Sanger, Calif., put it in an e-mail: "If you believe what we have had in D.C. so far this century is a conservative Washington, your perceptions are colored by a memory loss of what real conservatism looks like. Bring back to life 'real' conservatives who died before 1996, and they would think only one party ruled in D.C. now, the tax and spend, spend and spend some more party."

The funny thing is, I agree. Stack the traditional definition of "conservative" alongside the events of the last few years, and it's hard not to. It is, for example, difficult to find evidence of government getting out of people's way in the Terri Schiavo affair. Or evidence of lean, mean government efficiency in the Hurricane Katrina debacle. Or evidence of fiscal restraint in a projected $500 billion budget deficit. Or evidence of foreign policy pragmatism in the invasion of a country that had not attacked us and did not threaten to. Or evidence of accountability in the eagerness to duck blame for all the above.

Conservatism, an ideology once driven by principle, has shrunk until its purview can be, and often is, delineated in three syllables: God, guns, gays. Worse, it has embraced a win-at-all-costs ethos and intellectual dishonesty that are, even by the seamy standards of modern politics, astonishing.

To pick just one of many available illustrations: Last month, Karl Rove praised the choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate, citing among other things, her two long years as governor of Alaska and her experience as mayor of Wasilla, which has a population smaller than some apartment complexes. This came a few weeks after Rove said Tim Kaine was unfit to be Barack Obama's running mate because he, Kaine, had been governor of Virginia "only" two years, before which, he was mayor of Richmond which, with about 200,000 residents, is "not a big town."

Now, I don't care what your ideology is: You cannot, if you've got half a brain, define that as anything but hypocrisy. And if true conservatives hate seeing that kind of duplicity associated with conservatism, I understand. But I have a question for them: Where have you been the last 15 years? Where were you when conservatism was untethered from principle, unhooked from reality? Where were you when it became smug and self-righteous, when it traded its integrity for situational outrage, its credibility for angry certitude, its honor for ballot box success? Where were you when it sold out to evangelicals and anti-intellectuals? Where were you when it got hijacked?

American Muslims are often challenged to speak out against extremists in their religion, but for my money, that challenge can more fairly be leveled at those people Roy calls real conservatives. They sat silent as their principles were discarded, as their very name was stolen and used to drive the country off a cliff. I hope e-mails like Roy's mean their long silence is about to be broken, but I have some advice for him and anyone else who doesn't think the Republicans are truly conservative:

Don't tell me. Tell the Republicans.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday on


dandelion 9 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, lets not pay any taxes. Who needs to pay for Bushies little war? Let's leave it to the grandkids. I don't even have kids yet, and I feel bad for them. I thought conservatives were for family values. That's a load.

S0uPnAzi 9 years, 7 months ago

TRA spoken as a true socialist...leave them in the dirt. The thing that amazes me about demi-nazies, is they don't even want a debate...they want to be judge, jury, and executioner. Well done TRA, be a d#h#ad, the demi-nazies welcome you. When your taxes = 60% of your income, let's see how you post then.

ASBESTOS 9 years, 7 months ago

Lenord Pitts and most of the posters have no clue about what political conservatism is. Really easy to find out. Go get Barry Goldwater's book "Conscience of a Conservative" and you will know without all the media and hysterical spin. IT is not a GOP or Eemocratic Philosophy, but a governing and political philosophy. Conservatism could be well served in the Democratic National COmmittee, or the Grand Old Party.It is a valid political philosophy, just as progressivism.Too bad today most people do not know what these two are, and more importantly s far as the GOP has strayed from "Conservatism". so to has the DNC strayed from "Progressivism".Politicians of all stripes are simply telling what we need to hear to elect them.The power and corruption is in the lobbyists, and again both parties have them, and the party in power has more, regardless ow what they promised in the election.

jonas_opines 9 years, 7 months ago

Ah, I see. Pitts must not have had a fresh example of either racism or corruption.

JohnBrown 9 years, 7 months ago

McCain, Rove, and McCain's multitude of Washington lobbyists on-leave running his campaign, don't want to talk about the issues.For example: McCain and Palin are against raped, pregnant women having the choice to get an abortion. The other side of this coin is McCain and Palin are FOR would-be rapists having the right to choose the mother of their offspring.* REPUBLICAN'T: the party that can't govern, can't balance a budget, can't regulate banks and lending, can't clean up after a hurricane, can't follow the Constitution, can't win a war, can't figure out who the real enemy is, can't keep their promises, can't tell the truth, can't protect us from terrorists, can't keep our military strong and "ready", can't supply our military with the stuff they need, can't take care of our vets, and can't figure out we need to get off oil.--Pay no attention to that [old] man behind the curtain.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

Awesome. The current Republican dual personality is finally receiving some attention. I already knew the emperor had no clothes. Good for Obama for bringing out this amazing cognitive dissonance within the Republican party.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

"Republicans stray from conservative roots"... that should leave them, withered, in the dirt.

sdinges 9 years, 7 months ago

Where were we? Well, recently, we were out in droves voting for Ron Paul, trying to send a message.Considering Ron Paul didn't even feel welcome to speak at the RNC, I'd say message NOT received.So now where are we? Voting for a third party candidate, if we care enough. Voting for McCain as the lesser or two evils, if our faith isn't completely shattered. Or simply not voting if we're feeling particularly disheartened.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

Night is dark.Broad daylight is dark.( Perhaps darker because it's accompanied by the illusion of light. )Worth discussing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

jonas_opines-- looks to me that he was merely engaging in a discussion with his readers. Is there something wrong with that?

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

Are my taxes going to roads and national health care or the Pentagon? That will help me decide how happy I'll be. Nice slippery slope there SN. No soup for you!

Tom McCune 9 years, 7 months ago

Good job, Pitts. This is why about half of the Democrats in Kansas are now former Republicans.bevos: vote for former congressman Bob Barr, the nominee of the Libertarian Party. Too bad Ron Paul dropped out. He should have been the nominee of the Libertarians....

bevos 9 years, 7 months ago

HEAR!!!!!HEAR!!!!! I agree wholehearted with Mr. Pitts. And this time I am really in a quandary about for whom to vote. Aren't there anyone running on an Independent ticket? Are these my only choices? To get screwed or to get screwed? Bevos from Bama.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 7 months ago

soUp: "TRA spoken as a true socialist:leave them in the dirt. The thing that amazes me about demi-nazies, is they don't even want a debate:they want to be judge, jury, and executioner."soUp, you misunderstand... they will leave themselves in the dirt,in spite of the best efforts of concerned Americans, like myself. soUp: "Well done TRA..."Well, thank you. soUp: "... be a d#h#ad, the demi-nazies welcome you. When your taxes = 60% of your income, let's see how you post then.Perhaps you missed this...

jonas_opines 9 years, 7 months ago

Would there be if the discussion was that night is dark?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.