Friday, March 25, 2005

Outrage in the Center

My goodness, so much over-the-top rhetoric coming from the political center lately. And what are they huffy about? What have you got? I'm hearing everything from how we're quickly plummeting into a theocracy, to how conservatism is in danger of becoming just like liberalism. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan are being frequently cited as paragons of virtue in quarters where those names have never been held in much esteem before.

The only general agreement seems to be that the conservative movement is assuredly doomed.

Let's examine some of the statements:

From Young Curmudgeon:

There is an emerging consensus among intellectuals of the center-right that the conservative movement is falling apart under the stewardship of the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress. I'd heard talk like this for awhile and generally found it to be premature, but in this week of Schiavo and steroids the idea is now pretty much inarguable.

The same blogger links to an Andrew Sullivan article in The Times:

Beneath the surface, however, American conservatism is in increasing trouble. The Republican coalition, always fragile, now depends as much on the haplessness of the Democrats as on its own internal logic. On foreign and domestic policy alike the American right is splintering. With no obvious successor to George W Bush that splintering will deepen.
Joe Gandelman linked to this post by John Cole yesterday as his "must read" post of the day:

I have said it before- this is jihad for these folks. They don't give two hoots in hell about Terri Schiavo- this is about abortion, religion, and most of all, about power and control. Their concept of morality is king, you see- your behavior in the bedroom, your choice in sexual partner, your desires about end of life decisions, abortion, even the medication you use to ease the pain when you are dying of terminal diseases- their religious text should have authority over you, and if all these 'small-government strict constructionists states right's advocates' have to attain that through government proxy, so be it.
That kind of calm, dispassionate consideration toward the positions of a faction they disagree with is fairly typical of much of the commentary. Apparently there is no pro-life action allowed in the Republican Party anymore without the center freaking out over it. Because the pro-life crowd doesn't muster the rationality and careful diplomacy evident in the quote above. We're too extreme.

I think the most reasonable perspective on this comes from Michael Totten:

I factored in the wholly predictable Republican arrogance and obnoxiousness into my decision well in advance. So I’m not at all shocked that the party is behaving badly and that moderates are taking a walk. I know how they feel because I went through the same thing with the Democrats. If you’re on the center-left or the center-right both of our two parties will eventually steamroll right over the top of you.

If the Republicans want my vote again they are going to have to earn it. They only got part of my vote last time because I needed a port during the storm that blew the old left coalition to pieces. The Democrats could easily play the same role next time if they get their act together while the Republicans lose it.
Well of course. Come election time, voters in the center, just like everyone else, are going to have to choose on balance which candidates and parties best represent their interests. If anyone finds only candidates that perfectly match their every political opinion, then they're either very gullible, or prone to living in fantasy.

There is an element of utter narcicism in this collective shriek from the center, who seem to assume that social conservatives are always happy with every move the Republican party makes. You know, all that progress we've made rolling back Roe v. Wade just proves our every political whim immediately becomes law of the land. And the fact that every public school child starts his day with mandatory teacher-lead prayer establishes the supremacy of social conservatives beyond a doubt.

Incidentally, since these folks didn't similarly freak out over Bush's attrocious Prescription Drug Benefit bill, or his ill-considered furthering of federal intrusion into public education, I have a hard time believing the pressing issue here is concern for federalism. That may be one concern. But the passion over this seems to be driven by a virulent distaste for the pro-life element of the party, and especially the religious portions of that element. That's fine. Entitled to your opinion and all that. But so am I, and I disagree. And I'm capable of doing so without declaring that your dissenting opinon dooms everything.

Before these folks try to scare us with pronouncements of the Republican Party's doom for listening to the pro-life movement instead of public opinion polls, they might want to take a look at this post by Mitch Berg. Rumors of the imminent conservative crack-up seem to come around quite regularly. And we typically survive them just fine.


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