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No Conservatives as Far as the Eye Can See

January 18, 2014

It would be nice to have at least one conservative radio program. Conservatism is a vibrant, mainstream, sensible philosophy, but there’s no one talking about it.

Rush Limbaugh isn’t conservative. He is often not even coherent. He serves up Death Panels and Stand Down Orders and delicious commentary about “low information voters.” Was it Rush himself or a flunky who came up with, “Hey! Obama flies on Air Force One all the way to Hawaii. Voila! It’s Vacationgate.”?

I guess I’m not a low information voter anymore. Hawaii is far away. The president flies on Air Force One. Flying on Air Force One is costly. Better not get into a debate with me!

But seriously, I don’t mind a little entertaining radio or even dirty political hyperbole or, what the Hell, wild conspiracy-theory nonsense. What bothers me is that Obama-bashing passes for Conservatism these days even though it’s pretty much useless, not to mention boring and predictable.  Anti-Obamatism just doesn’t cut it for me as a political philosophy: it’s like drinking very weak coffee — you might as well throw it down the drain.

Are there any actual philosophical Conservatives out there? Sure, there’s George Will, but he isn’t on the radio or TV except occasionally and he doesn’t save the day. It’s basically all Rush, all Fox, all the time.

But matters are far worse than merely an overabundance of “conservative” clowns. Republicans, the people who are actually in office who are supposed to be representing conservative ideas, are not remotely conservative and haven’t been since at least 1980. This is a huge problem for someone like me, worse than conspiracy-theory media, and worse than a Democrat/Progressive/Socialist as President.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Socialism; I’m a Socialist myself. I drive on roads and like them just fine socialized. I’m glad there’s an organized group of people committed to broadly-applied Socialist philosophy. I usually don’t agree with them, but I respect what they stand for.

But where are the Conservatives? Where are my guys? Nowhere.

Let me put it this way. I only expect one thing when there is a Republican president. Just one little thing. It’s an easy thing to do. It’s basic. It’s obvious.

I want low deficits. I don’t need low deficits all the time, just when the economy is strong. If the economy is strong and a Republican is president, I expect, need, and, to be honest, DEMAND, that the national debt as a percent of GDP go down, down, down.

Am I asking too much? Apparently, yes.

We’ve had 20 years of Republican presidencies since 1980 and zero, yes ZERO, low deficits.

It’s like a guy says he’s a Pacifist except for the fact that he beat up two people yesterday, broke a child’s leg today, and is planning to murder someone tomorrow. “But I’m a Pacifist,” he pleads. “Really, I am.”

When Boehner and his fellow Republicans got ready to vote on a bill that had been sponsored by Republicans and that would have created a powerful commission to get the deficit-reduction process started, we got to find out who these guys really are. They voted against their own bill because they figured out that dealing with the deficit means raising taxes in addition to cutting programs and so had to backpedal like champions.

Since 1980, Republicans have essentially been a one-issue special interest group. Low taxes at all costs, no matter what. Small government? No, big government with low taxes. Don’t like gay marriage? Good, we’ll use that issue to get votes so we can cut taxes. When we’re done slashing tax rates, we’ll borrow the money we need, and send the bill to our children.

You can call this “position” anything you want. You can even call it conservative if you don’t mind abusing a noble philosophy with a long and honorable history. I would prefer to call it what it is: irresponsible, short-sighted, and stupid. Also, I’m sorry, but taxing the unborn is just plain immoral.

Between WWII and 1980, the national debt as a percent of GDP ALWAYS went down when the economy was doing okay. It didn’t matter who was president. Sure, we argued about Conservatism vs Socialism, but we ALWAYS paid our bills.

It was the great Ronald Reagan who introduced the idea of letting the national debt increase even during good economic times. Since Reagan, Republican after Republican have displayed a frightening willingness to sacrifice the whole damn country on the altar of low taxes; meanwhile, Conservatism itself wandered into a dark alley where it was jumped by Newt “zero capital gains tax” Gingrich and Dick “deficits don’t matter” Cheney. Their goal: silence a whole philosophy.

Even so, the 21st-century post-Cheney Republicans actually did (briefly) manage something more or less conservative. They made sequestration happen: No money? Fine. Across the board cuts then. Simple and blunt, but effective.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with sequestration: like every other deficit-cutting measure, it would ultimately lead to tax increases. People want their government programs and the tiniest sequester turned out to be so painful that the purveyors of phony Conservatism have already abandoned the idea for exactly the same reason they abandoned their previous (much better) idea of a deficit-cutting commission. Nothing matters except low taxes. All hail Grover Norquist!

Real Conservatives of course believe first and foremost in pay-as-you-go. Want big government? Take out your wallet. We Conservatives endeavor to convince people that limited government is better in the long run.

The last thing (real) Conservatives want to do is offer people all the government programs they want without having to actually pay for them — it’s hard to imagine a better way to get even more government programs. Conservatives don’t tax the unborn. Period.

Unfortunately, this is what the Republican party stands for now: forget tax and spend; welcome to spend and spend.  And no, the pretty little debt clock at the 2012 Republican convention did not make up for 20 years of deficits don’t matter.

Do I, Thor Klamet, a Conservative, have to vote Democrat because those well-meaning, socially-tolerant, everyone-should-go-to-college, personal-responsiblity-is-irrelevant, high-minimum-wage-will-solve-everything Socialists are the only people in politics who actually think deficits DO matter?

Where are the Conservatives?

What am I going to do?

Lately, I’ve occasionally woken up in a cold sweat, my heart beating wildly. It’s November 2016, I’m sure of it. The election was yesterday. Oh my God, Hillary Clinton is President! That’s very bad of course, but it’s not the nightmarish part.

What brings out the drenching sweat is that in the dream, I actually voted for Hillary. It was either that or vote for some Republican cut-the-capital-gains-tax-and-we’ll-all-be-stimulated buffoon, so I clenched my teeth, closed my eyes, held my breath, gargled in anguish, and voted for HRC, hoping I would not regret the moment forever all the while mourning the fate of a beautiful political philosophy bloodied, kidnapped, abused, and tossed into a dungeon by a bunch of short-sighted tax-cut-worshipping millionaires and their army of oh-so-clever, story-telling, Obama-bashing popularizers.

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