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. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail