Two days ago, conservative blogger Charles Johnson posted “Why I Parted Ways With The Right” — a concise explanation of why he “won’t be going over the cliff” with the American right-wing-nuts. He names names, including a list of fascists, racists, bigots, white supremacists, homophobes, misogynists, anti-science luddites, anti-govermnent lunatics, conspiracy theorists, and promoters of violence and genocide who have escaped from the radical fringe loony bin and have largely become the mainstream right, including many of its leaders and major pundits. What passes for dialog in the right wing has become “universally dominated by raging hate speech”. Not surprisingly, the right-wing blogosphere responded to his post with more raging hate speech.
Then today, an even better-known conservative blogger, Andrew Sullivan, agreed in his post “Leaving the Right” that criticizes the “rhetorical septic system” of the “conservative degeneracy in front of us”. Sullivan gives even more specific reasons why he left the right, saying he cannot support a movement that:
- disregards the rule of law
- uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power
- is deeply homophobic, regarding gay people as a threat to their own families
- believes any tactic can and should be used to fight political warfare, including lies and deliberate misinformation
- sees permanent war as compatible with the goal of limited government
- criminalizes private behavior in the war on drugs
- does not accept evolution as fact
- sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as a core plank of an energy policy
- embraces demagogues like Rush Limbaugh or nutjobs like Glenn Beck
- sees violence as a primary tool for international relations and holds torture as a core value
These two stories struck a chord with me, and not because they were bashing the right. This blog has sometimes been accused of being left-wing, but I don’t feel like someone on the far left. I agree strongly with many things that (at least in the past) were associated with the right: limited government, fiscal conservatism, gun rights, free markets, and capitalism. On the other hand, I am a social liberal, like the libertarians (who are also considered to be right-wing).
Above all I am a pragmatist, which makes me a moderate. I supported (and still support) Obama because he is a moderate and a pragmatist. I support single-payer health insurance because it just works so much better than what we have (or what Congress is now proposing). I am pro-choice not because I think abortion is ok (it isn’t), but because it is none of the government’s damn business. The same thing goes for recreational drugs. Interestingly, even though these might be considered left-wing positions, the majority (or at least a plurality) of Americans agree with me on these issues.
What struck a chord was that the big problems with the conservative movement are hatred and stupidity. While I agree with many conservative principles, I abhor the intentional lies, hostility, and slavish devotion to power that now characterize the right. So while I may attack the hypocrisy of the right in this blog, I do so not to destroy the right. In fact, I fervently hope that the right can be saved.
But I don’t think this can happen while people such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter, and Fox News represent modern conservative thought. In fact, not only are they destroying the right, they just might destroy the rest of the country in the process.