The Republican presidential primary process has successfully plumbed new depths of disgust in American politics. The parade of Neanderthals that keeps emerging from the back of the party’s cave to contest tenuous frontrunner Mitt Romney for the nomination has been a bizarre spectacle to observe. In their futile search for a “true conservative,” the Republicans are beating themselves down with their own clubs and, in the process, demonstrating that none of them is worthy to lead this nation.
It is depressing to think that this squabbling gang of power-grasping, ideologically addled hypocrites is the best this country has to offer for new leadership. For as mercilessly as they have denigrated President Barack Obama in their relentless campaign to convince Americans that he is not only incapable of leading the nation out of its economic ditch, but is also an existential danger to truth, justice and the American way they sure have not offered any better candidates.
The weirdness started with Donald Trump, perhaps the unparalleled paragon of pomposity, running for president apparently as a self-promotion device for his various egocentric enterprises. Then we had Herman Cain, whose quality of character and knowledge of current events were as mediocre as his pizzas. Up next, Rick Perry, the slow witted cowboy called upon by God to run for president. Apparently, God issued a recall.
Jon Huntsman actually seemed to be a reasonable, articulate and knowledgeable candidate. That is probably why he was roundly rejected by the far-right zealots who have seized the helm of the Republican barge.
Then, filling the hope vacuum for the “true conservatives” came Rick Santorum, a man whose brand of Puritan politics would have been perfect in 1692 at the Salem witch trials. The poor man was simply born into the wrong century.
Most recently, Newt Gingrich, the born-again “true conservative,” captured the fickle favor of “true conservatives” who seemed willing to ignore his marital infidelities where they would not overlook those of Cain. Gingrich is glib and combative, especially when he is beating up on journalists who inquire about his past indiscretions. The right wing-nuts love it when you savage the “mainstream media,” whom they consider to be the mouthpiece for their great Satan: liberalism.
The best of the worst is probably Romney. This successfully capable man has solid executive experience in business and in government, where he demonstrated pioneering sagacity in establishing universal health care for Massachusetts — something he now disavows. That disavowal notwithstanding, his “true conservative” credentials are suspect. In his desperation to win the nomination he has straddled positions on so many issues that it is impossible to know where this congenital elitist with the robotic personality stands on anything.
So, what is a “true conservative”? The dictionary definition is someone “disposed to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change.” Essentially, a conservative is an ideological Luddite who wants to maintain a certain status quo, which, of course, is impossible. The fundamental dynamic of the universe is change. Nothing remains the same. Everything is in flux — including society — and is interrelated and changing at varying speeds.
Once, traditional values included racial segregation and prohibition against inter-racial marriage. The status quo allowed industrial monopolies to exploit society through child labor, slave wages and environmental depredations. All of this has gradually changed — over the fervent objections and obstructions of “true conservatives.”
And, continuing to do their best to resist the realities of change are today’s “true conservatives,” a mixed tribe of economic elitists, dogmatic Christians and paranoid patriots obsessing over various conspiracy theories that typically involve Orwellian government. These folks have grown deaf listening to their own loud voices. Their minds are impermeable to reason because they cannot or will not set aside ideological convictions to examine issues objectively.
You cannot find the perfect conservative candidate for these people. You would have to construct one, like a Frankenstein monster, a composite of disparate, contradictory parts stitched together — a capitalist Christian who can pass through the eye of the needle, and bend society back to subjective traditional values without using big government force to do so.
America does not need a “true conservative” president or a “true liberal” president. America needs “true leaders,” people who are wise enough to adapt to inevitable societal change. Who objectively assess realities and craft public policy to affect the best outcomes for the national welfare.
What ideology is that?