Who’s Killing American Conservatism?

“I’m getting better.”
“No, you’re not.  You’ll be stone dead in a moment.”
“I don’t want to go on the cart.”
“Oh, don’t be such a baby.”
“I think I’ll go for a walk… I feel happy! I feel happy!”
– From Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Sometimes I feel like the “bring out your dead” scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a good way to look at the state of American conservatism today.  It seems like every time genuine American conservatives get the slightest bit of momentum – or each time these traditional American ideas get a little life breathed into them, they take a proverbial blow to the head.

Before I get too far into this piece, I want to quickly define the term “American conservatism.”  What are conservatives in America supposed to conserve?  You see, American conservatism is its own, unique brand of conservatism.  It’s distinct from traditional, European conservatism.  In other words, the Founders of this country did not see themselves as conservatives, because traditional European conservatives argued for policies that protected the upper crust of society – the political elites.  The Founders were disciples of what we now call “classical liberalism.”  The focus was not on preserving the power of the politically well connected and the very wealthy – the focus was instead on limited government and individual liberty.  That is the unique American tradition – limited government and personal liberty.

Even into the early 20th century, there were some writers and politicians who believed in these traditional American principles that would have loathed the term “conservative”.  It was seen as backward and old fashioned – having nothing to do with traditional American principles.  Later on in the 20th century, though, the political landscape began to change; and those who advocated for limited government and believed in the sovereignty of the States and the individual eventually took on the term “conservative”.

Now, though, in the early 21st century, things are looking very bleak for American conservatives.  We now live in a society dominated by incredibly powerful multinational corporations, political special interests, and big government.  Using the popular political terminology of today, the political “Left” has taken over.  And I don’t mean only in the last few years.  The Democrats may have won the last two presidential elections, but the dominance of the Democratic Party in recent elections is only a very small part of the problem.  That’s because American conservatives are shut out of politics and have been for many years now.  We have no voice.

You may say: “But we have the Republican Party to counter the Left.  They’re trying to stop the Democrats from giving us big government.  If we didn’t have the GOP, the government would be out of control and they’d tax and spend us into oblivion.”

I have news for you: the Republicans are lying to you.  In fact, I almost made that the title of this piece.  If there’s any message that I want people to understand, it’s that very point.  The Republicans are lying to you.  All the time.  Virtually every word uttered by the overwhelming majority of Republican politicians – especially the leadership of the party – is utter horse manure.  They are lying through their teeth every single day.  And I’ll prove it to you.

Now, the Republicans are supposed to be for limited government.  Right?  After all, that’s what they tell us all the time.  “We’ll get the government off your back.”  “We’ll slash spending and reduce the size and scope of government.”  “We need to unleash the power of the free market.”  Sometimes they even have the gall to bring up the Founders and say something like this: “The Founders would be ashamed of where we are today.”

But what’s the truth about the Republicans?  Who do they really represent?  I’ll be as plain as I can here and then I’ll show you the evidence so you can decide for yourself whether or not I’m correct.  Which, by the way, is the last thing the Republicans (and Democrats) want you to do – think for yourself.  So, to put it bluntly, the Republicans represent old, European conservatism.  They’re largely ignorant of free market economics (if they aren’t being outright hostile to the free market) and they don’t care because they aren’t really interested in the free market at all – that would be harmful to the interests of big business.  They represent the political elite – the crony capitalists of today.  Their goal is to protect the well established and make sure that the average American is none the wiser.  What better way to do that than to spew out some rhetoric about freedom, limited government, while at the same time waxing poetic about the greatness of the American government (because of the greatness of the people, of course…), and how it’s those darned liberals – those pesky Democrats – that want to take your money and give it to their crazed, socialist constituents.  They understand that big business and big government feed off of each other, so they make people think that their policies are the “conservative” position while they demonize their partners in crime – the Democrats – as being populist, socialist utopians, yet they do nothing to actually repeal the measures taken by their Democrat peers.  In fact, when “liberal” programs taken on by the Democrats become ingrained in American society long enough, the Republicans will actually defend those big government programs just as vigorously as the Democrats – they’ll make defending those programs seem like the “conservative” thing to do (see Medicaid, Social Security, etc.).

In reality, the Republicans are authoritarians – deeply invested in increasing the size and scope of the government, while also ensuring that the elites are well protected.  Over time, special, big business interests began to infiltrate the GOP.  In the 20th century, leftist utopians also began infiltrating the GOP, calling for America to re-make the world in our own image – creating a world that would be “safe for democracy.”  This was how the neoconservatives became the dominant voice of the Republican Party and made perpetual war a part of the party platform.  Most registered Republicans don’t understand that the interventionist policies of the GOP actually have their origin in leftist political thought.  So the GOP was now fully on board with the welfare-warfare state in which big government and big business became partners in protecting the elites and draining the wealth of the American people.

I’ve mentioned many times before via social media that there is no substantial difference between the Democrats and Republicans – they each fool their constituents by using different rhetoric, but the policies are essentially the same.  Here’s the evidence.

In the midst of a financial crisis, the U.S. Senate has approved the 2013 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act).  The 2013 bill called for $631 billion in spending on the military.  According to the article in the link, it also called for “a new round of sanctions against Iran, a permanent ban on ever transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and continued funding for the occupation of Afghanistan.”  Moreover, the 2013 NDAA also contained the Feinstein Amendment, which was supposed to overturn the provision in the 2012 NDAA that called for the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial, but there is still some debate as to whether or not the Feinstein Amendment actually restores the right to a trial by jury for American citizens.  The bill passed unanimously.  There was no debate – no resistance to this absurd amount of money being thrown at the military-industrial complex or the maintenance of the American Empire.

And what about this “fiscal cliff” that we’re hearing about these days?  Aren’t the Republicans supposed to be for fiscal responsibility?  Surely, they must understand the need for cuts in spending.  According to Robert Wenzel, the talk from the Republicans about cutting spending and lowering taxes is completely “bogus.”  On both sides of the aisle in Congress, the real aim in all these talks is increasing taxes.

But don’t we have some great champions of conservative ideals in the GOP?  What about all those “Tea Party” candidates?  We must have some Republicans who can talk sense in the midst of this madness.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of the “rising stars” of the GOP: Marco Rubio.  According to Chris Rossini at Economic Policy Journal, Rubio is one of the front runners for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016.  If that’s the case, we should all be very worried, indeed.  Rubio was recently given the Kemp Leadership Award, considered to be kind of a big deal for legislators.  In the article I’ve linked to, Rossini brilliantly breaks down Rubio’s acceptance speech.  In that speech, we can see what historian and best-selling author Tom Woods calls the “3×5 index card of acceptable political thought in America.”  The idea is, politicians are only allowed a certain amount of space when it comes to acceptable political thought in this country.  If a politician strays from the Romney-Obama spectrum, he or she is summarily dismissed as a lunatic or “fringe” by the establishment of both political parties and the mainstream media (see Ron Paul’s candidacy).

If you check out the article, you’ll see that Rubio knows virtually nothing about free market economics and actually differs very little from any other Republican or Democrat.  The gist of this “choice” we have between politicians with an “R” or “D” by their name is essentially: “Do you want big government or bigger government?”  This holds true even for “Tea Party” politicians like Rubio.

The sad truth of American politics is that an elected official can’t go very far up the political ladder if he or she wants to offer a legitimate alternative to the American people.  This is why politicians like Rubio are praised while the likes of Ron Paul are demonized.  This is why Republican constituents are given candidates like Mitt Romney to oppose the Democrats.  Romney was chosen by the Republican establishment because didn’t offer a viable alternative – he was just as authoritarian and pro-big government as Obama was and is.  There was no real choice in the 2012 presidential election, just as there is no real choice in virtually every other election in America each year at every level of government.  Dissenters are not tolerated.  Don’t believe me?

In the 2008 and 2012 GOP presidential primaries, the only candidate who had a record that was consistent with the principles of limited government and personal liberty (real American conservatism, remember?)  was Ron Paul.  And the GOP leadership did everything in their power to make sure his campaign was crushed.  He was marginalized by the establishment of the Republican Party, the mainstream media, and even the Democratic Party wrote him off as “fringe” because he dared to speak outside of the approved McCain-Clinton spectrum.  For his fidelity to the Constitution and the principles of American conservatism, he was deemed a heretic.

The Republican Party viciously attacked the one candidate who predicted the fiscal collapse, had never voted to raise taxes, never voted to restrict gun ownership, had an impeccable pro-life record (his profession was delivering babies, after all), and was a renowned expert on free market economics and famous critic of central banking and central economic planning (i.e. the Federal Reserve).  But he wasn’t bloodthirsty enough for the neoconservative-dominated GOP, so they tried to run him out of the party.  Besides, the GOP wanted to stay in the good graces of the bankers and corporate elite – the last thing they wanted was a man who was serious about sound money and a real free market.

The media and both parties stuck by their mantra: “Don’t listen to him, citizen.  He’s dangerous.  Listen to us.  Don’t pay attention to crazy Uncle Ron – he’s just an old crank, you know.  A relic.  He might even be racist.  No, you’re much better off not listening to him babble on about the unsustainablity of our foreign and domestic policies.  Here, citizen – listen to Romney and Obama.  These are sensible men you can trust to rule over… we mean… lead you.  Your government is here to protect you – we know best.  Now go back to sleep.  Watch football.  Spend money.  Everything’s fine.  Let’s go back to watching these two, very different political parties scream at each other and call each other names.  Let’s see if your side wins the horse race this time.”

Dissent is not tolerated.  Recently, the Republican leadership purged various Congressional committees of representatives who refuse to play ball.  Walter Jones, Justin Amash, and others who tend to avoid toeing the party line, were removed from their committee assignments by the Speaker of the House – many of those who were removed were known to be friends with Ron Paul.

Both political parties are able to grow the size and scope of government and carry out grotesque abuses of civil liberties and horrifically immoral policies through their manipulation of tribalistic tendencies that are in us all.  In other words, the Republicans have become very good at manipulating their constituents by what economist Murray Rothbard called the abuse and manipulation of the word “we”.  While the Democrats do the same thing with their own constituents, Republicans have gotten far too many people to agree to the notion that the GOP and even the government is “us”.

In other words, they make you identify personally with Republican policies.  So “we” need to increase spending on education with programs like No Child Left Behind.  “We” need to tell people what they can and can’t put in their bodies.  “We” need to kill thousands of human beings halfway around the world that have never threatened an American in their life.  These are “our” policies because the government is “we” and the government is doing this for “our” good.  By getting you to identify with at least one of the two wings of the big government party, they have manipulated you into agreeing to immoral and unjust policies that are not to your benefit at all.  They’ve gotten far too many Americans to identify personally with the government, so when someone critiques American foreign policy, for instance, it becomes a personal attack.

Instead, Americans should always think of the government (and both of the parties that run it) as “they” – not “we”.  You and I did not slaughter vast numbers of innocent people in this so-called “War on Terror”.  The government did.  The politicians enact legislation and they enforce their policies at home and abroad by violence.  If foreigners don’t agree to American influence in their internal affairs, the American government deems them terrorists and kills them.  You don’t want to pay taxes – even if rates are raised to absurdly high levels because of the policies enacted by our rulers?  You’ll be thrown in a cage.  If you resist, they’ll kill you.  This is the nature of our government today.  They recognize no limits on the power of the state.  This is true of Republicans just as much as it is of Democrats.

When Obama signed the NDAA, the GOP did not object.  When Obama murdered an American citizen, Republicans applauded.  When Obama renewed the Patriot Act, the Republicans supported it.  When George W. Bush bailed out the banks, Obama followed suit.  And both parties are funded by the same corporations.  The Republicans and Democrats are two wings of the same vulture.

To help drive the point home a bit more, I’ll give you an example of the mindset of the political elites in the GOP.  When asked what he thought about Americans who supported the principle of nullification of unconstitutional Federal law – what Thomas Jefferson deemed the “moderate” course of action for the various States to protect their people from the Federal government, Republican leader of the Florida Senate Don Gaetz called for supporters of nullification to be shot and hanged.  And this is from a man belonging to the party of “limited government.”

In his Congressional farewell address, Ron Paul said that government today was filled with “psychopathic authoritarians.”  I’m afraid Dr. Paul was correct.

So what are American conservatives to do?  We’ve no representation and the mainstream media stands against the people as part of the establishment.  The first step, I think, is to make sure that Americans break out of this tribalism that’s crippled our country.  In order to keep American conservatism alive, Americans must not allow themselves to slip into the dominant “left vs. right” narrative and get rid of the notion that “we” are the government.  It’s all too easy to slip into a simple “us vs. them” mindset, but this is how the rulers of this country maintain their control over the people.  The media, by the way, helps perpetuate this mindset – they’ve set up the networks so that everyone hears only what they want to hear.  No one has to venture outside of their own narrative and this is very dangerous.

If American conservatism is going to stand a chance, the old “left vs. right” paradigm must be shattered.  People must understand that there is no real “left” or “right” in the political spectrum anymore – it’s simply authoritarianism, collectivism, and legal positivism versus liberty, the sovereignty of the individual, and the rule of law.  In order for that to happen, conservative Americans have to understand that they’re being lied to.  The Republicans are not conservative.  They don’t represent you and they don’t care about the Constitution or the traditional American principles of limited government and personal liberty.  They want your money, they want your rights to be stripped away, and they want you to keep quiet about it.

Who’s killing American conservatism?  Generally speaking, we can say that it’s the Establishment as a whole.  But if we’re going to lay the blame anywhere in particular, it’s fairly simple – the Republicans are killing American conservatism.  I say, “Do away with the GOP.”  It’s the only way to keep American conservatism alive.

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