Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Thursday, May 19, 2005
One of the striking facts in this era of 'conservative' power is the complete absence of an actual conservative movement. Jonah Goldberg recently boasted of conservatism's frredom from dogma, but this is true only in the sense that 'undogmatic' and 'unprincipled' are taken as synonyms. Conservatism today seems taken to mean only supporting, by any means possible, political victories for the Republican Party and especially its extreme right wing. Any movement which actually stands up for any conservative principle: limiting government power, fiscal responsibility, or even national sovereignty when that means standing up to the GOP leadership is nearly invisible
The current Topic A provides a conspicuous example of the phenomenon. I could, if I were pressed to do it or in the mood to be perverse, come up with arguments for why the nuclear option is justified or desirable. What I couldn't do, because it simply isn't possible, is argue that it is a conservative thing to do. This isn't merely because, as others have pointed out, dumping the filibuster has often been a liberal goal and would support the long-term liberal cause of a more activist legislature. The more basic problem is that conservatives are supposed to respect and conserve established institutions. It's what the damned word means. True conservatives are cautious, even excessively cautious, about undermining traditional structures with less than the most compelling need. Blowing up the stability of an institution that has functioned reasonably well for over two centuries in order to gain a short term partisan edge is simply something that no true conservative would ever consider doing.
And yet, the nuclear option, which can succeed only if 90% of the governing 'conservative' party agrees to support it, is moving forward. For this even to be seriously under discussion is an acknowledgment that actual conservatism is entirely without impact in the Republican establishment.