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

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail