This from the Washington Post:
The Heart of Conservatism -- by Michael Gerson
'For many conservatives, the birthday of the movement is Nov. 1, 1790 -- the publication date of Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France." Burke described how utopian idealism could lead to the guillotine, just as it later led to the gulag. He . . . argued that social reform, when necessary, should be gradual, cautious and rooted in the habits and traditions of the community.
'But there is another strain of conservatism with a birthday three years earlier than Burke's "Reflections." Some of Burke's contemporaries took these arguments further. "I am one of those who think it very desirable to have no reform," declared the Duke of Wellington. "I told you years ago that the people are rotten to the core" . . . Wellington took to carrying an umbrella tipped with a spike to protect himself from protesters.
'Prime Minister William Pitt pressed a young member of Parliament named William Wilberforce to introduce a bill for the abolition of the slave trade. . . .
'A later conservative, Lord Shaftesbury, fought against conditions that amounted to slavery in British factories. . . .
'But both were also evangelical Christians who believed that all human beings are created in God's image . . . .
Other conservatives dismissed these reformers as "saints," prone to "fits of philanthropy."
'This history is directly relevant to modern debates. In some conservative quarters we are seeing the return of Burkeanism -- or at least a narrow version of it. These supposed Burkeans dismiss the promotion of democracy and human rights as "ideological," the protection of human life and dignity as "theological," and compassionate conservatism as a modern heresy.'
Click here for the complete text.
Now, I'm sorry--
I believe current conservatives have no more right to cite the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. [which Gerson does] than Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin or Hitler would have had.
The current crop of Republicans often do invoke the name of Lincoln [I know both Bushes and Nixon have done so] merely because he was instrumental in the birth of a party that called itself Republican.
The Republicans back then were the progressive party and the Democrats were ultra-conservative and reversalists [yes, I made that term up -- but it does describe their tactics]. So, claiming Lincoln as one of their own makes as much sense as calling me a Republican because I agree with what they stood for when the party was founded 151 years ago. The fact is, things have changed since 1856-- and not for the better.
And Martin Luther King, Jr????? Do they seriously think he would vote Republican today or approve of what they are doing?
IMNSHO, if you make a pact with the devil, you deserve what you get.
The Republicans were more that willing to pander to the far right to get their votes and their money. And NOW they want to back away from them? They didn't start doing that till their polls went into free-fall and it became starkly evident that, come next November, they're going to lose all 3 houses [Senate, Representatives and White] because the only people who will be voting for them are those same ultra-conservative theo-cons they've courted for the last dozen years or so.
[And, anyway, you don't back away by continuing to ignore the Constitution while taking a vote to say, 'Christmas Is Good'. Someday, this Congress will wake up and realize you can't have it both ways. But they'll probably be back home by the time they notice.]
In any case, Gerson is trying WAY too hard, here. He cherry picks his history to make certain points and ignores anything which isn't convenient to his arguments. Sounds just like what the Republicans in Congress are doing as they rapidly back away from the facts of today along with the bullying tactics they've been using-- until they blew up in their faces.
Today's neo-cons would welcome slavery if they could get away with it; in fact they do exactly that when they propose allowing Mexicans to enter the US as 'guest workers' who are welcome to pick our crops but not to bring their children with them or pursue a path to citizenship.
How compassionate is THAT?