The Hijacking of Conservatism in America
Mr. Cassell does an accurate job of describing how the American Conservative movement was hijacked and transformed into what it has become today!
The Hijacking of Conservatism
By Kevin Cassell
Conservatism in American social and political life could have been the hallmark of a 21st Century Golden Age had it not been hijacked by the reactionary wing of the Republican Party and turned into a platform for the politics of personal destruction. What was once an estimable tradition that favored small, efficient, centralized government and gradual transition over radical transformation is now a loaded word that signifies unconditional patriotism, orthodox Biblical faith, corporate deregulation, and a venomous hatred of taxes.
But what truly stuns is how what passes for "conservatism" in the U.S. these days is aligned with the ideological Republican Right and their practice of a politics geared toward very publicly denigrating and destroying the careers of their opponents--specifically progressives and moderates.
This has a traceable history going back at least to McCarthyism. After the failure of that effort, GOP right-wingers were kept at arm's length by Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon, but they made a stunning comeback when Ronald Reagan rode into office talking of a shining city on a hill. As the country shimmered with patriotism and God, these newly-termed "Reaganites" worked behind the scenes, cutting taxes for their homies, deregulating oversight systems for big business, and funneling money borrowed (these guys always borrow money that taxpayers end up having to pay back) from overseas regimes to thwart leftist movements in Central America.
Meanwhile, homelessness exploded, the Savings and Loans industry imploded--leaving taxpayers with a $500 billion hole in their wallets--and budget deficits skyrocketed. As his Vice President George H.W. Bush, running on the Republican ticket in 1988, spoke of a "kinder, gentler America," GOP strategist Lee Atwater was circulating false rumors that Democrat Michael Dukakis's wife, Kitty, had burned an American flag to protest the Vietnam War. His protege Karl Rove, a spokesman on behalf of the Bush-era "neoconservatives," helped sail George W. Bush into office in the guise of a "compassionate conservative"--one who cared deeply for the welfare of people.
Eight years later, the United States is in the throes of its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, has a $9,400,000,000,000 debt, and 300 million citizens who have been unfathomably screwed.
Believing, perhaps, that a vote for the GOP was a vote for God and Country, Republican voters in the past decades put into office self-styled "conservatives" who became the most predatory political animals ever to stalk the cunning halls of Washington: Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, Tom Delay--to name only the most prominent among them. But let's do some straight-talk here: they are not conservatives, as Noam Chomsky pointed out as early as 1995; they are reactionaries--people who oppose social and political progress.
Their court-packing, unilateral, pro-corporate agenda has been loudly hailed by an army of ideogogical mercenaries in the media who invest enormous amounts of energy into destroying the careers of political figures who stand in their way. Despite its alleged allegiance to love of country, democracy, God, and humankind, the reactionary ideology of contemporary "conservatism" is an aggressive, cut-throat ideology that plays dirty every chance it gets.