One thing I’ve advocated for many years is that people stop using the word “conservative” to describe the right wing whack jobs who have taken over the Republican Party. I’ve had no luck, of course. I’m just me. But you’ll note that, in more than 1,000 posts on this blog, I have managed to not use the term.
These people are not “conservative.” Conservative implies something resembling “mainstream, and they are the opposite of that. Yes, people like Goldwater. Dole and Nixon were conservative, but as I have pointed out previously, the GOP is now nothing like that. While I disagree politically on just about everything people like that stood for, the fact of the matter is, they did stand for something. They cared about the country and the people in it. While we disagreed was on methods for making a better country, at least I got a sense that they did want a better country.
The current Republican Party leadership thinks nothing of starting a war with another country and using troops as political tools. A true conservative would never do that. Nor would a real conservative vote to shut down the government to try to repeal a law that isn’t possible to repeal. True conservatives wouldn’t vote more than 60 times to kill a law that solves a problem; certainly not without proposing something else that solves the problem. And there is no way a true conservative would vote to default on our debt, for any reason, especially a hissy fit about Obamacare.
Speaking of debt, a true conservative would be disgusted at the way the current GOP runs up the national debt. No true conservative would ever say anything resembling “deficits don’t matter” and, if handed a budget surplus, a true conservative would work to preserve it, not blow it up and start two wars that were not paid for.
Extreme far right radicals are not “conservatives,” and we should stop calling them that. When we call them that, it gives the radicals credibility, at the same time it strips true conservatives of credibility. Of course, it’s also inaccurate, and we should value accuracy above all. There’s nothing “conservative” about a group of people who want to dismantle most of the government and who favor radical cuts to programs that help people the capitalist system necessarily leaves behind. True conservatives understand the value of regulation. They may not like excess regulation, but they’re also not anarchists. True conservatives would limit bank regulation, not completely deregulate them.
In reality, most people share a conservative vision on a number of things, and that includes liberals. In fact, given the classic definition of “conservative,” liberals are more conservative at this point in time than the right-wing radicalized GOP. We want to preserve the programs we built in the wake of the Depression and World War II, and current Republicans want to destroy them and that actually makes us more conservative than them. So, why do so many liberals refer to these people as “conservative”?
One reason these radical neocons have been able to get themselves elected is because they used to be able to couch their extremist views in terms that real conservatives could accept. They’ve been calling themselves “conservative” for so long, and we have reinforced that for so long, they no longer have to pretend. Calling right-wingers “conservative” gives even their most ridiculous views a veneer of credibility, and it makes our job that much harder.
Referring to these people as “conservative” makes them seem mainstream, and they are anything but. Calling Obama a “socialist Kenyan Muslim” is not mainstream, Blocking everything Democrats propose is in no way mainstream, Therefore allowing them to seem like average Americans is unwise, to say the least. Real conservatives are disgusted with the fact that Republicans in Congress are blocking any and all job creation because they know more taxpayers means less pressure to raise tax rates. Real conservatives couldn’t care less about gays getting married, and they’re rarely racists and bigots. Real conservatives favor the separation of church and state. Real conservatives hate the Tea Party, and they think “strict constitutionalists” are insane.
Real conservatives would never allow greedheads to take over and steal everything and then print money to bail them out. Real conservatism is about entering the capitalist market with eyes open and taking your losses yourself. Current Republican “orthodoxy” allows “capitalists” to take all sorts of stupid risks with other people’s money and then demand that government bail them out while they never pay back the people they stole the money from. How is what happened between 2001 and 2008 in any way “conservative”?
Real conservatives also have nothing to do with the “social engineering” Republicans engage in these days. No real conservative would ever demand that government make pregnancy decisions in place of a woman, nor would they decide whose marriage should be recognized by the government? And they sure as hell wouldn’t sit still while police checked to see if they were “qualified” to enter a bathroom.
And when did it become “conservative orthodoxy” to use our military to run interference for oil companies, or to attack a country that didn’t serve as a viable threat? Real conservatives would never occupy a country and pillage their resources, and they sure as hell would never put our troops in harm’s way, with no clear mission and no clear exit strategy. And I guarantee that real conservatives are sickened by the police having so much power that they can shoot unarmed black men with impunity.
I never use the term “conservative” to describe these idiots because they are anything but. Stop calling them that. Be accurate. Call them right wing asshats or batshit crazy right-wing radicals, because that’s what they are. A winning strategy for progressives is to always tell the truth.