When Ideology Fails, Try More Ideology

If anything this seems to be one of the leading arguments here in the early stages of the Republican party’s “time in the wilderness.”  When government by ideology fails, the reason it fails must have been a result of not enough ideology.

It’s almost as though we were looking at two different realities.  In an election where Sarah Palin was proved to be as big of a drag on the Republican ticket, if not more, than George W. Bush, we see one faction of the Republican party not merely defending her, but rallying around her and vowing vengence to any Republican that would dare to slight her good name.

And of course there is the larger symbolic point of the election; an irrefutable rejection of the administration of George W. Bush and those portions of congress that were complicit in his style of governance.  This in and of itself is a damning statement that I don’t think has quite sunk in with movement conservatives yet for, especially during his first term, George W. Bush was I think the most crystalized modern movement conservative that could get into the Oval Office.

Of course, this comes with the understanding that there is a vast difference between paleo-conservatism or libertarianism, and modern movement conservatism.  The roots of modern conservatism in America reach all the way back to Jefferson; the shrinkage of government and the growth of personal liberties which at least logically go hand in hand.  After all, one can make a solid and reasoned argument that the smaller the government, the less of a chance it has to take away your freedoms.

But modern movement conservatism uses this age old tenet as little more than a cloak, a palatable facade for the internal factions that don’t necessarily square with the marketing.  It’s hard to say you are for personal freedom while at the same time acting to see that the government gets to tell people who they are allowed to marry.  It’s ironic to say the least that you are for shrinking government while at the same time holding a neoconservative philosophy to the military which necessitates growing government expenditures and military size.

As I have said countless times, I am a liberal, but in my politics I tend to favor moderation.  I do this primarily for two reasons; because I recognize that this is not a nation comprised only of liberals and conservatives and moderates are just as entitled to be a part of the national debate as liberals are, and because I also recognize that ideologies can be wrong, that my opinions can be wrong, and the only way to ensure that we do not err down the paths that my ideology may take me is to have a counter-balancing opinion.

I welcome opposing ideas, and I welcome to a degree partisanship when it is employed in the spirit of good faith and compromise.  And I think anyone from all regions of ideological thought should feel the same.  So while I am a liberal, I will tend to support moderates who only lean left more often than I will support someone who is more in line with my specific views.  I think it’s just healthier for the country.

But in the aftermath of the electoral bloodbath that Republicans faced on Tuesday, an alternative thought has emerged, and one that I’m not altogether unfamiliar with.  Following Democratic defeat, I’ve heard time and time again that our losses were a result of the fact that we were not adherent enough to the left, that being so centrist showed a weakness of character and failed to energize the base.  There can be merit to this; energizing the base is always something you hope to do in politics, but one must always weigh the costs and benefits of doing so, and take into serious consideration the possibility that energizing the base will cost one the rest of the country.

But it is what it is.  If ever there was a repudiation of movement conservatism, the last two election cycles would have to be it, and yet you still see figureheads like Tony Perkins declaring that when this ideology failed, the right answer is to try more ideology.

Somehow, I just don’t think that is the way to go.

2 Responses to “When Ideology Fails, Try More Ideology”

  1. radical_moderate says:

    I agree with you kyle. I am astonished by the thought that some Republicans opine that the party should turn even harder right, when the evidence suggests strongly that most Americans are leaning toward the center.

    Ex Republican Congressman, and common sense Conservative thinker, Mickey Edwards (who voted FOR Obama) suggests that modern Republicans reject the anti-intellectualism, and slash and burn elections strategy of Newt Gingrich, and Karl Rove, that has dominated the Conservative movement since the mid-90’s and become the party of Big Ideas again. Small Government and fiscal responsibilty are ideas I can find some sympathy with, but the intolerance of the modern Party? Never.

    As my name suggests, I consider myself a centerist, and although I did support Obama I will be disappointed if he turns far left (in fact, after studying this man throughly, warts and all, since January, I am convinced that he will Govern from a place of moderation), I am above all interested in IDEAS, and I have been appalled as the other major political party in the Country became beholden to religious zealotry, pushed Joe Sixpackism at the price of intellectual discourse, and pushed out moderating voices; the party has become, looking at the swath of red across the electoral map, a redux of the seccesionist South. This can’t be good for the movement, and I would suggest to Republicans that they should be listening less to mindless rabble-rousers such as Hannity, Savage, and Limbaugh, and more to thoughtful thinkers such as Bacevich, Phillips and Edwards.

    I happen to believe that we need at least 2 strong parties of opposing viewpoints in the Country to encourage a healthy Political climate, but the turn that the Republicans have taken in support of religious (among other) bigotry and aggressive militarism has led to disaster.

  2. Skeptic says:

    “Pointing to measures in California, Florida and Arizona barring same-sex marriage that passed Tuesday, Perkins said President-elect Barack Obama’s election did not mean the country had embraced liberal social views.” A group of kids (GOP) getting together to beat up a minority kid (gays) is Perkins’ social value. If that’s the best America can do, democracy be damned. GOP will always outnumber gays. If constitution should be so easy to modify, make it a kitchen shopping notepad. Write discrimination into constitution shows how low the GOP is willing to go. That leaves minorities no choice but to rise up against the tyranny of the majority with arms struggle. They got lucky. Gays happen to be a bunch of sissies. The only arms they have are lipsticks.


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