Monday, June 16, 2008

The Fall of Conservatism

If by "conservatism" George Packer means to describe the people in a movement who are both the mal-informed, easily swayed citizens together with the ones who deceive them, the power brokers hell-bent on destroying the strength of a powerful central government (especially that which checks the power of private, multi-national corporations) and hell-bent on waging wars to shift government money from public to private sectors then I hope his long, detailed and historically fascinating article in the New Yorker is so right and that perhaps a true brand of American conservation can be born with its death. I suppose it'd have to be called something else because the word "conservative" has been so hog-tied and muddied that it bears no resemblance to acts of conservation. I, myself, would like to see this country more fiscally sound (in the public and private sphere), more environmentally protective of our national resources, pro multi-types of families and extended families (i.e. "pro-family"), and more progressive about conserving gasoline use by implementing and marketing alternative transportation and green energy sources.

Here's an excerpt, but this article is so worth an investment due to its breadth that you really really must purchase a copy from a locally-owned bookstore or, I suppose, you could steal one from Borders. (Did i say that?)

"On his final page, [Rick Perstein] writes [in his book Nixonland], "Do Americans not hate each other enough to fantasize about killing one another, in cold blood, over political and cultural disagreements? It would be hard to argue they do not." Yet the polarization of America, which we now call the "culture wars," has been dissipating for a long time. Because we can't anticipate what ideas and language will dominate the next cycle of American politics, the previous era's key words - "élite," "mainstream," "real," "values," "patriotic," "snob," "liberal" - seem as potent as ever. Indeed, they have shown up in the current campaign: North Carolina and Mississippi Republicans have produced ads linking local Democrats to Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's controversial former pastor. The right-wing group Citizens United has said that it will run ads portraying Obama as yet another "limousine liberal." But these are the spasms of nerve endings in an organism that's brain-dead. Among Republicans, there is no energy, no fresh thinking, no ability to capture the concerns and feelings of millions of people."

Hasn't brain-deadness always been part and parcel to the conservative scheme-ola?

Three cheers for George Packer.

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