December 14, 2007

An Apologist? Sorry--It's Too Little and Too Late

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?


reconstitutionjr said...

Yes, they love slavery. That's why they are always eager to outsource American jobs to places that pay 25 cents an hour for a 16 hour day.

Distributorcap said...

amazing how the love of money trumps everything.....

two crows said...

hi, reconstitutionjr and welcome to PP&D--
isn't that the truth? and, since they can't very well outsource vegetable picking, they'll use slave labor here for that. what else do you call tearing families apart in order to keep produce cheap?

hey, distributorcap--
yep. money trumps everything.
the mantras seem to be: 'bring me your money and I'll vote for whatever you want.' 'give me enough money and I'll let you get away with anything.' and, 'give ME your money and I'll make sure you don't have to pay your employees enough to stay alive.' and on and on and on.

TomCat said...

The ultimate goal of the GOP is to reduce the US to two castes: filthy-rich plutocrats and impoverished serfs.

two crows said...

hey, TC--
yep, but they won't succeed.
we caught their drift before they managed it simply because the middle class was too large and too well entrenched when they started.

and, like the pendulum of the early 70's -- I think it's started swinging back. hope so, anyway.

Snave said...

Today's Republicans are related to Lincoln in name of party only. They are related to Barry Goldwater in name of party only, for that matter.

Today's Republican presidency invokes nothing of past Republican presidents such as Lincoln, or even Eisenhower, but is very much like the presidency of Richard Nixon. Had circumstances been different re. the makeup of Congress during the past seven years, I think Dumbya Bush would have been out on his ass before his first term was done.

Things may have changed since 1856, but today's conservatives would like to take the United States back to 1856. They probably would like to see a return to legal slavery, as you suggest, making the use of the labor of illegal immigrants for corporate gain into a legal and accepted thing. That we should all find freedom in slavery to a religious state is something a large number of them would also like to see for America.

They suck.

I also hope the pendulum is swinging back toward the left. I think it has swung back to the middle, and I hope it hasn't stopped there, but that it will continue leftward!

Leftward ho!!!

two crows said...

hey, Snave--
yes, I hope so too -- that we can continue this trend. we're not nearly back among the civilized nations yet, but we may be heading in that direction.

still, any time Congress can come out in favor of Christmas while continuing to allow torture, eavesdropping and persecution of minorities in this country -- well, we've obviously still got a long way to go.

and, if we DO continue leftward, I hope we learned something from the excesses of the 60's and 70's [in which I participated] so we don't restart the march toward medieval times again.

hopefully, it was the fact that there were SO MANY 18-y-o idealists feeling power for the first time that led to that period of upheaval. maybe the fact that now the numbers are weighted to the 60-y-o's will help us keep that from happening again.

TomCat said...

I don't think it's started much yet, TC, but it can if the GOP is completely reloved from power.

two crows said...

oh, I don't know, TC--
it's incremental but I've begun to see a few hopeful signs.
the steps will be baby-steps, of course-- but that's how we got from 1968 to here -- and how we'll head back in that direction, too. I think the path is begun.

and I don't hold out for all Republicans to get out; that won't happen. I'll be satisfied if they return to Bob Dole's and Barry Goldwater's party-- not Newt's and Falwell's and DeLay's.
and if Rush and Coulter [not to mention Bush and Cheney] will crawl back under their rocks I'll be ecstatic!