FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

State of the Conservative Union

by LAURA FLANDERS

The verdict on the 2004 State of the Union seems to be that President George W. Bush, in vigorously defending the policies of his administration, was appealing directly to his base of conservative American voters. But take a look at that conservative base these days and you’ll find a group that is bitterly divided.

While most agree on privatizing social security and cutting income taxes, and members of the Christian Right adore Bush’s pledge to “defend the sanctity of marriage,” when it comes to the “war on terror” and the Pentagon’s burgeoning missions abroad, some other traditional conservatives are becoming increasingly critical of the president and his policies.

“The conservative movement’s been hijacked and turned into a globalist, internationalist, open-borders ideology which is not the conservative movement I grew up with,” Pat Buchanan complained in September 2002 to The New York Times.

In his latest book, Wall Street Journal writer James Bovard calls the USA PATRIOT Act a “government license for tyranny.” In Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil, Bovard writes that after 9/11, “the Bush administration continually broadened the war. The response to attacks by a handful of killers is morphing into a campaign to vanquish all potential enemies of U.S. hegemony and to impose American political values on much of the world.”

The “soul of the Patriot Act,” writes Bovard, is “blind trust in the arbitrary power of federal agents and federal officials.” And Bush is hoodwinking Congress: “The higher Bush’s approval ratings rose, the more contempt congressman showed for their oath of office—their pledge to uphold the Constitution.”

On our radio program recently, Bovard took former Bush speechwriter David Frum to task for advocating expanding the war on terror in his recent book, with former assistant secretary of defense, Richard Perle, An End to Evil.Evil is a popular word with the American right, it seems, but there’s no agreeing what to do about it.

For years, all those who opposed the New Deal consensus more or less hung together—but no longer. The last time broadly defined conservatives were sniping at each other this vigorously, the disaffected broke away from the GOP and created their own party—the Libertarian Party was founded in 1971. A LIB-GOP divide could cost G.W. some critical voters in 2004.

Republicans-turned-Libertarian helped cost Slade Gorton his Washington Senate seat in 2000, they say, and they cast enough votes for Libertarian Party candidate Kurt Evans (S.D.) that if he hadn’t thrown his support the GOP’s way at the end, Evans’ libertarians could easily have cost the GOP that Senate seat in 2002.

Other libertarians—including movement leaders—are at least considering supporting a Democrat over Bush in 2004. Several said as much to Noah Schachtman in an article on The American Prospect Web site recently. There’s a “Libertarians for Dean” blog site thriving on the Internet.

Is the Conservative Coalition cracking up?

It’s possible. American Conservative magazine recently ran an article, “The Conservative Crack-Up” on their cover.
If the president pushes harder on issues libertarians hate—like policing marriage and restricting abortion—it will doubtless widen the conservative movement’s cracks. So bring it on, as Bush would say. A Constitutional Marriage Amendment may be just what Democrats need—not to shore up heterosexual coupling—but to bring down the conservative’s cold war marriage.

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of “Your Call” heard on KALW-FM in San Francisco, and author of Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species, forthcoming from Verso Books.

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax–Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links / LAURA FLANDERS

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

February 11, 2016
Bruce Lesnick
Flint: A Tale of Two Cities
Ajamu Baraka
Beyonce and the Politics of Cultural Dominance
Shamus Cooke
Can the Establishment Fix Its Bernie Sanders Problem?
John Hazard
The Pope in Mexico: More Harm Than Good?
Joyce Nelson
Trudeau & the Saudi Arms Deal
Zarefah Baroud
The Ever-Dangerous Mantra “Drill, Baby Drill”
Anthony DiMaggio
Illinois’ Manufactured Budget Crisis
Colin Todhunter
Indian Food and Agriculture Under Attack
Binoy Kampmark
Warring Against Sanders: Totalitarian Thinking, Feminism and the Clintons
Robert Koehler
Presidential Politics and the American Soul
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: The Banality of Evil on Steroids
Cesar Chelala
Is Microcephaly in Children Caused by the Zika Virus or by Pesticides?
February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail