Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Conservatives and Blind Loyality to Bush

Glenn Greenwald beat me in commenting on the article on Bruce Bartlett, and had previously discussed these issues in a post the previous day. On Sunday Greenwald asked, Do Bush followers have a political ideology? He found that the only ideology is blind devotion to George Bush:

Now, in order to be considered a “liberal,” only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a “liberal,” regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more “liberal” one is. Whether one is a “liberal” — or, for that matter, a “conservative” — is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.

Greenwald provides an excellent summary of the degree to which Bush supporters have abandoned principle:

That “conservatism” has come to mean “loyalty to George Bush” is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is. It is not only the obvious (though significant) explosion of deficit spending under this Administration – and that explosion has occurred far beyond military or 9/11-related spending and extends into almost all arenas of domestic programs as well. Far beyond that is the fact that the core, defining attributes of political conservatism could not be any more foreign to the world view of the Bush follower.

As much as any policy prescriptions, conservatism has always been based, more than anything else, on a fundamental distrust of the power of the federal government and a corresponding belief that that power ought to be as restrained as possible, particularly when it comes to its application by the Government to American citizens. It was that deeply rooted distrust that led to conservatives’ vigorous advocacy of states’ rights over centralized power in the federal government, accompanied by demands that the intrusion of the Federal Government in the lives of American citizens be minimized.

Is there anything more antithetical to that ethos than the rabid, power-hungry appetites of Bush followers? There is not an iota of distrust of the Federal Government among them. Quite the contrary. Whereas distrust of the government was quite recently a hallmark of conservatism, expressing distrust of George Bush and the expansive governmental powers he is pursuing subjects one to accusations of being a leftist, subversive loon.

Indeed, as many Bush followers themselves admit, the central belief of the Bush follower’s “conservatism” is no longer one that ascribes to a limited federal government — but is precisely that there ought to be no limits on the powers claimed by Bush precisely because we trust him, and we trust in him absolutely. He wants to protect us and do good. He is not our enemy but our protector. And there is no reason to entertain suspicions or distrust of him or his motives because he is Good.

We need no oversight of the Federal Government’s eavesdropping powers because we trust Bush to eavesdrop in secret for the Good. We need no judicial review of Bush’s decrees regarding who is an “enemy combatant” and who can be detained indefinitely with no due process because we trust Bush to know who is bad and who deserves this. We need no restraints from Congress on Bush’s ability to exercise war powers, even against American citizens on U.S. soil, because we trust Bush to exercise these powers for our own good.

The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary “conservative” is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

Not surprisingly, this resulted in many attacks from the conservative bloggers, many of whom were specifically criticized in the post. Greenwald uses this criticism as evidence of this new definition for conservativism in his follow up post today:

I mention all of this because it illustrates what I think is an important point. I’ve been blogging for just over 3 months now. It’s almost certainly the case that the only views of mine that bloggers at LGF and RWNH know are, at most, my opposition to the Administration’s various theories entitling them to violate Congressional laws and my belief that the Administration manipulates terrorist threats for domestic political gain.

In other words, they don’t actually know my political views on most issues in controversy. All they know, at most, is that I am a critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to terrorism policies and the Administration’s insistence that it need not abide by the law — opposition which, in their eyes, is more than enough to qualify me as a “leftist” or “liberal” despite not knowing if I actually subscribe to liberal views on virtually any issue. Mere opposition to the Administration, by itself, is enough to qualify one as a “leftist” or “Liberal” – which, I do believe, was one of the principal points of my post. . .


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