I used to think I was a Conservative, but that was before I realized what the difference between a Conservative and a Republican really was. This realization didn't just sneak up on me, arriving with one of those "Eureka!" moments where the skies seem to part and thunder echoes across the valley, with the trumpets of angels heralding some great epiphany.
Rather, this realization came about as the result of a banning from the 'real' conservative (small 'c' intentional) website, FreeRepublic, the hip and happenin' gathering place for the mentally constipated.
My crime back then, it seems, was to make the case in 2007 that one Rudolph Giuliani was far more conservative than his other Presidential candidate cohorts in that year's primary contests. You know, the contest that eventually brought us John McCain and Sarah Palin and the national heartbreak that has been the Obama Administration, and put Mike Huckabee on television? Yeah, that one.
Anyways, it seems that if you make a halfway decent argument that someone with a proven record of conservative governance behind him would make a good President of the United States, the denizens of some Republican/Conservative precincts will argue back that unless the person in question has an impeccably unimpeachable moral record (and perfect church attendance), or that there may be a relatively minor disagreement on ideological grounds, that background means jack shit.
One of the denizens of FreeRepublic was actually alarmed enough by a simple question in 2007 that he/she saw fit to report my support for Rudy to the moderators of the site. I was (and still am) banned from making comments on that site, although if I wished it I can still read all the Biblically-infused political dribble I want. This does not bother me personally, as I've since realized that what I truly am is a Republican with some conservative leanings, and not a complete retard. But, the message was sent:
We're not interested in debate, or free speech, we just want to associate with people who think and believe the way we do.
The question I had asked? Paraphrasing, it was this:
Why was Rudy Giuliani, who many on FreeRepublic deemed unfit to hold the Presidency and vilified for having been divorced, not a credible conservative, but Ronald Reagan, himself a divorcee, lionized and almost elevated to sainthood?
The general answer was that even if Giuliani was a small-government, law-and-order, no-nonsense, fiscal Conservative, his lack of orthodoxy on other issues (most revolving around abortion, Gay Rights and Gun Rights)made him the next best thing to Satan. Rather than have to answer such questions with logic and reason, the good doofuses at FreeRepublic just decided it was easier to silence me, letting me know my posting privileges were revoked because I was, quote, "trolling for Rudy".
It was then that I realized that what I had once considered a righteous political ideology to no longer be anything of the sort. Whatever conservatism had once been, it was no more (the last Republican Congress, packed to the gills with 'Family Values" conservatives, pretty much killed the idea that conservatism was a responsible force) and not because it had many failings as a philosophy but because it was steadily being embraced by a bunch of retards who put their faith and their bulletproof stupidity ahead of their logic and enlightened self-interest..
Giuliani eventually bowed out of the primaries in 2007, having never gained a critical mass of support. Mainly this was because the Republican primary process is not about policy or even achievement; it's about kissing the asses of the self-appointed hall monitors of American Society. If the contest had been about actual achievement and policy, Giuliani would have wiped the floor with his rather lackluster competition, and then it's not much of a stretch as to whether he would have won a general election. Rudy might have been a much better option than the two we eventually got, anyways.
But several months of 'real' conservative (small 'c' intentional) invective -- Rudy once wore a dress as a gag, Rudy was the Anti-Christ because he once had a gay roommate, Rudy was tarred with the label of Adulterer because of his marital problems, his children hated his guts, he was widely seem as a 'gun grabber' and deadly threat to the 2nd Amendment-- were the proverbial Death by a Thousand Cuts. There was no inbred redneck who would ever pull the lever for Giuliani in a primary because he just wasn't one of them, and by that we mean that he didn't spend seven day a week in prayer, praying for an eighth day just so he could have the time to repeat the process, and spend the rest of his time cleaning his shotgun, guzzling cheap beer and watching NASCAR.
Above all, however, was the fear that while a Giuliani presidency might well have addressed many of the pressing problems of the day -- ballooning federal deficits, an out-of-control court system, terrorism, tax and economic policy -- that because Rudy did not hold out the prospect of being the type to engrave the Ten Commandments on all public monuments, execute abortionists, frog-march the Gay Rights crowd to the ovens, and promise free flamethrowers and RPG's for everyone -- none of that really mattered. What truly matters to these folks is that they get to tell everyone else how to live according to their own questionable moral code and wild-hair-up-your-ass mindset in much the same way they claim their opposite numbers do. That means that every GOP primary must produce at least one candidate who invokes God every four minutes, makes the pilgrimage to Bob Jones University, kisses Franklin Graham's behind, and promises a new reign of saccharine-sweet Norman Rockwell Americana from sea to shining sea; these things keep you in the race at least until your other -- more frightening -- failings come to light.
That's the only conservatism they truly care about; any other kind is just gravy, so far as they're concerned. The real purpose of the new conservative movement is to address what many consider to have been a shortcoming in the mindset of the Founding Fathers:
Since the political system does not establish nor validate any Religion, then Religion must be the force which remakes and validates the political system.
What today's Evangelically-minded, abortion-and-gay hatin' inbred wants is a candidate who promises to elevate their religious and moral values above all other concerns. Only with a tax cut. Because if there's anything worse than having to live amongst heathens, it's having to pay taxes for the privilege. There's also the question of having to kow-tow to the Pantheon of Conservative Flapping Rectums, the professional commentariat that earns it's daily bread by analysing everything in America within an inch of it's very life through the narrow lens of ideology.
Which brings us to the topic of Newt Gingrich and the recent display of 'real' conservative (small 'c' intentional) ire, and the beginning of his own Giuliani process of Death By a Thousand Cuts.
Never discount the ability of the conservative (small 'c' intentional) wing of the Republican Party to shoot itself in the ass, and then complain loudly that "if only we had selected a REAL Conservative, things would have been better...". If they were being honest with themselves (which they never are; after all, they believe in God) they would recognize that they are the main obstacle to Conservative victory, rather than it's bravest foot soldiers.
The truth, as I see it, is that if a 'Real conservative' (by their definition) ever managed to obtain the highest office in the land with a Congressional Majority, and therefore the ability to enact the entire Ultraconservative Platform, there would be riots in the streets. As it was, we had just this circumstance with George W. Bush, but since Bush apparently failed in his Divine Mission to have sayings from the Book of Matthew imprinted on condoms, or to forcibly baptize illegal aliens by the millions, it became axiomatic that Bush failed because he found it necessary to compromise these important principles, or -- even worse -- because he was betrayed by a pack of RINOs- (Republicans in Name Only), people who only pretended to be conservative in order to get elected, and who now must be purged.
The idea that, often, our political system operates this way, in fact was designed to work this way, eludes them.
And much like the Muslim Douchebags we're currently bankrupting the country to alternately fight and then bribe into leaving us alone, when a Religious Conservative doesn't get his way it must be because of some personal moral failing on the part of the chosen vessel, or a conspiracy of outside influences, all dripping with a Satanic Evil that threatens to undermine the Will of God. The answer is never to be found in cold, calculating reflection, a careful process of evaluation of success and failure, but rather in a renewed, ever-more-obnoxious, more militant, fundamentalism. We failed because we lost the favor of God, you see.
Of course, in GWB's case, the leader of that pack of Apostate RINOs was last round's loser, John McCain, but let's not quibble about those sorts of details. McCain only got the 2008 nod because Huckabee couldn't quite part the Great Lakes and feed the multitudes with three Cheetos and a box of Fig Newtons, proving that he was, indeed, merely mortal. McCain just managed to survive a deeply-flawed primary process. In any case, the problem for today's brand of principled conservative, ruled as he is by his faith and innate fear of anything related to the genitalia, is that what's needed to correct America's list to port is a candidate who embraces an uncompromising viewpoint on every issue...and who wears out the knees of his pants in fervent prayer.
Gingrich, by nature, is an intellectual. Intellectuals, by and large, often reject the dictates of faith in favor of reason. Reason often dictates compromise. Compromise means that a Conservatism wrapped in the Flag and drenched in the Blood of Christ, can never truly be realized. If the country cannot be made 'perfect' by a renewed moral crusade the Rapture will be delayed, and the self-righteous douchebags who assume they've got First Class tickets for the Great Ride in the Sky, will be condemned to stay here amongst filthy sinners who watch South Park, frequent tattoo parlors and saloons, and engage in sexual activities explicitly proscribed in Deuteronomy.
That type is more concerned with their immortal soul, more focused on the Next Life than they are on this one, and this preoccupation causes them to skew the reason, function, and role of and for Conservatism, to the point where the word itself no longer means what it once did and becomes instead little more than a label, a tribal affiliation, the religious version of Gang Colors. Nowadays when one calls himself a 'Conservative' what he really means is 'Bible Thumping Asshole who would cut off his own nose to spite his face, because he believes -- sans evidence -- that God somehow commands it."
Why we should paying this much attention to people who don't even want to be here, and who have such obviously selfish motives, is beyond me. But somehow, they have managed to slant the GOP primary process so that we do exactly that, and in the end, it leads us to pretty much the same place: we get an 'electable' candidate (i.e. one who simply managed to avoid saying the most stupid things in a debate), and a crowd of disaffected, pissed off religious nuts who cry in their Holy Water and who vow to be even bigger assholes next time around.
Conservatism, at it's base, is the natural extension of what used to be called Classical Liberalism. Instead, with the influx of so-called 'Values Voters' (itself a misleading term, as many Values Voters are simply people too stupid to recognize that which is in their own self-interest because they are blinded by superstition) into the GOP, the Republican brand begins to slowly drift away from it's roots as a party defending the Natural Rights of Man, and becomes a party devoted to cleansing the Earth in preparation for the End of Days. It's not about improving the conditions of life and opportunities for enjoying personal liberty for the largest number of people anymore; it's about religious values, which have nothing to do with Natural Rights (and I don't care which Enlightenment philosopher you trot out to gainsay that; what those guys were doing was trying to find an intellectual foil to the thorny question of Divine Right, and decided that if the King could arbitrarily claim the authority of God to rule, then so could the masses. It's not like God was going to settle the question for anyone, seeing as how She doesn't exist). But I digress...
On the question of Conservatism, pure Conservatism divorced from mindless superstition, we can discern the following from Gingrich's history:
There is much more Conservatism in Newt Gingrich's little finger than there is in Rick Santorum's whole arm. There's more Conservatism in Newt Gingrich's record than there is in Michele Bachmann's entire body. In the great "I'm-more-conservative-than-you" pissing match that GOP primaries have devolved into, there's more conservatism in one hair from Newt's butt crack than there is in Mitt Romney's entire genealogical history.
But the issue of Gingrich is not really about Conservatism the political/religious amalgam, as much as it's about Gingrich and the prospect of Compromise. Gingrich just might compromise what he considers minor principles in order to make a much bigger splash someplace else, and gives no assurance to those who can't walk and chew gum at the same time about what stays and what goes. This frightens the fertilizer out of some Conservatives, because they're not quite convinced that Newt is "one of them", and he has not given them any insight into just what aspects of conservatism he might consider to be expendable.
If you're one of those religious faggots, a Snake-Handling Baptist or Speaking-in-Tongues Evangelical who thanks the Almighty for a proper bowel movement in the morning, you get the impression that Newt Gingrich would gladly allow Gay Marriage and unfettered abortion (or at least pay no mind to those issues) if it means getting significant cuts in the Federal Budget. If you're a Conservative Intellectual, you fear that Gingrich will be apt to appoint Federal or Supreme Court judges who will continue to allow some of the worst excesses of Modern Progressives to stand in American Law or Government as a temporary political tactic. If you're a Free Trader, you're afraid that Gingrich will gradually destroy the carefully-constructed edifice by which you enrich yourself while impoverishing your country through a complicated system of legal wrangling, tax code gerrymandering, and outright bribery of Congress.
After all, he refuses to say outright what he might do if faced with that possibility, and when he does make his positions clear, you're persuaded by the past airing of Newt's dirty laundry so as to avoid giving him the benefit of the doubt that he might actually mean just what he says.
Gingrich threatens to establish a pragmatically-feasible version of Conservatism that rubs many the wrong way because it would tend to treat their particular pet peeves as so many bargaining chips to be expended in the quest for a Better America -- one that doesn't need, eventually, to pay attention to their special brand of stupidity. Gingrich stands, if successful, to make many who currently enjoy special power or status within the party extraneous to the process.
So when you hear that Newt Gingrich is "undisciplined" what you're really being told is that Newt is not ideologically rigid, and possessed of a mind of his own that doesn't require the approval of the Krauthammers and Lowrys of the world. When you hear a criticism of Newt as 'profligate' in his personal affairs, what you're really hearing is the criticism that Gingrich isn't one of those idiots who considers the Bible to be literal truth, and the promise of Divine Retribution all that unsettling. When you hear the criticism that Gingrich's intellect is 'disordered', 'scattershot'. 'unfocused', what you're really hearing is "This guy will sell your narrow-minded, single-issue concern down the river for a vote on ______". When you hear that Gingrich has "a checkered past" and "made many enemies in Conservative Circles" what you're hearing is a feeble attempt to damn the man with insinuation and not with objective evidence.
What frightens some conservatives about Gingrich is that he might prove to be pragmatic, and so successful in a way that turns the entire structure and focus of the modern GOP upside down and inside out. And if he does, then who needs Franklin Graham? Who needs Charles Krauthammer? Who needs National Review? It'll be a republicanism of the right and center, and not of the Self-interested Right that makes it's (very good) living by tut-tutting at everything under the Sun, and which would be happy to let us all burn in Hellfire so long as they get to be seated at the Right Hand (the perfect spot from which to begin the process of snivelling grovelling which protocol deems necessary when Kissing God's Holy Buttocks. Oh right, forgot: She doesn't exist. My bad).
It's why many of the very people who pooh-pooh a Gingrich candidacy, those who say that Newt is "unelectable" because he displays no central principles (or no principle they can agree with, at least), are so busy lining up behind Mitt Romney -- the one man in this race for whom that can be genuinely said! They hide their concerns behind words like 'undisciplined' and 'unelectable', and say them as if they were engraved upon stone, but they're not being honest. They fear Gingrich because he, finally, threatens to do something which has never been tried before and which would destroy the foundations of the entire Modern Conservative charade: he might make choices and advance policies that make actual sense, as opposed to making choices and policies that depend upon the approval of narrowly-defined and often mentally-deficient constituencies.
They'd rather lose with Romney and endure another four years in the wilderness, than to win with Gingrich and therefore be made irrelevant to the process.
Personally, I've advocated for a Gingrich presidency for many years on this page. It seems to me the only real choice now -- unless you truly like your Presidents to be flip-flopping self-promoters or the self-elected keepers of the Sacred Flame of an America that no longer exists and which cannot be resurrected without much societal turmoil and perhaps even violence. That Newt has not obliged me has often vexed me, but perhaps he was just keeping his powder dry? In any case, considering the choices we'll soon have between Gingrich and a man who will say anything to be popular (Romney), facing off against a man who couldn't find his own ass with both hands, a compass, and a battalion of aides giving him conflicting advice (Obama), the decision couldn't be an easier one to make.
However, the way the GOP runs it's primary system will probably guarantee that Romney gets the nod, if only because he'll be the only one left standing due to the scads of money he has available to pay off this or that off-the-reservation constituency. Gingrich will be gradually worn down by having to answer mostly-annoying charges made against his character (by people who demand their candidates have all the attributes usually only associated with Jesus) while the guy with very little of that quality about him gets to mostly skate. In a General Election it's a toss-up as to whether Romney can avoid saying something obviously untrue, screamingly self-interested, or inanely stupid, for long enough to beat even a weakened-and-out-of-his-depth Obama.
And that's assuming that Romney's Mormon faith doesn't cost him the South (not that this matters, but somehow you know it will). The System, as it now works, produces that sort of skewed result: it gives far too much weight to the purists and the pious, and not enough to the general consensus. It's how you wind up with an aging-Cold-Warrior-Gang-of-14-RINO-bordering-on-Alzheimer's John McCain and a clueless Sarah Palin, rather than a Rudy Giuliani and maybe Condoleeza Rice as your ticket.
In retrospect Rudy Giuliani might have been a credible candidate and President, but we'll never know because the process played against him in the primaries. The same thing is happening to Newt Gingrich, and it's mainly the same people who are doing it. One hopes that Gingrich's ideas and force of intellect can carry him through to eventual victory, because the alternatives, quite frankly, are far scarier. And if the process doesn't produce the right result (meaning the best-qualified candidate, rather than the candidate who can manage to garner the Seal of Approval of people who you wouldn't follow through your own front door), we're well-and-truly fucked.