“Conservatism* is a sham!” That was the original title of this thread. While it’s actually both sexier and more succinct, I opted against it because it doesn’t accurately reflect my position, although it’s not that far off. The Trump presidency has shed a lot of of light, or maybe brought to the surface, the real impetus behind the people who claim to be conservatives, and thus revealed the true nature of conservatism. Well, partly.
I need to make two important distinctions before I proceed–separating two different types of conservatives–namely, ones that don’t really have any real convictions in a legitimate (more on this later) political ideology, and ones that do. The reason that my initial title is both (mostly) true, but too misleading for me is that 99% of conservatives fall into the former category, while the rest fall into the latter. In other words, I believe there is such a thing as a legitimate conservative ideology, but so few people actually believe this that it’s fair to say conservatism is largely a sham.
Now it’s time to explain what I mean by a legitimate political ideology. First, I want specify that I’m talking about legitimacy within a liberal democracy. The rule of law; a constitutional government, separating powers in a way that creates checks and balances; free and fair elections; a free press; freedom of religion; due process–a legitimate political ideology would take these as a given. What also legitimizes a political ideology are the presence of legitimate goals–goals that relate to making the lives of both individuals and the overall society better. By “better” I’m thinking of things like protecting civil liberties, while also ensuring the security of the overall society; I’m thinking of a healthy economy, where one can earn a living, afford quality housing, education, health care. I could probably name other things, but hopefully you get the idea.
In the rest of this thread, I want to address two questions: 1) How is conservatism illegitimate? 2) And what does a legitimate conservatism look like?
(*In this thread, “conservatism” and “conservatives” refers to the American forms of both.)
“Hypocrisy” and “cynicism” are two adjectives used to describe actions of Republicans, particularly when they supported Trump. I tend to think those two words are inadequate. I like bad faith better, but the meaning seems a little vague to me. In this thread, I want to flesh out the meaning and think about term, versus alternatives, when discussing the modern day GOP and their leader.
Voting and the integrity of our election are truly a critical part of our democracy, and the Democrats and Republicans have two competing narratives with regard to this topic. Democrats believe that Republicans want to suppress votes, particularly for people of color, as a primary way to gain or hold political power. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that voter fraud is a serious problem that poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. Who’s right? That’s what I want to answer in this thread. Primarily, I want to collect evidence for both narratives. Now, I have already been reading about this topic, and let me say upfront that the evidence for voter fraud being a serious problem seems scant, while the evidence for voter suppression, in my view, seems far more compelling. Before I begin, I should acknowledge if one or both narratives proves true, they are legitimately serious problems–problems that would demand some corrective action.
These are the closing words of a 100 scholars. Specifically, they find recent actions to make voting more difficult, by Republican controlled state legislature, alarming.
Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.
These scholars urge Congress to act, passing laws to counter these efforts, even if it means suspending the filibuster. I’m wary of language like this, but I can’t dismiss these claims. I’m concerned; I don’t think we’re out of the woods, even though Trump is not in office. Here is Max Boot, former Republican Senator and Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and former Republican Congresswoman, Barbara Comstock.
General McCaffery on General Flynn’s comments about coup in the U.S.:
How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire by Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomeratsev in the Atlantic is an article about the way the current nature of the internet, in general, and social media, specifically, are harmful, or even hostile, to democracy. The authors also recommend several specific suggestions to change this. The writers seem optimistic that their suggestion could actually significantly improve the internet, making it a more viable for democracy, if their recommendations are adopted (which is another matter).
I do believe improvements can be made to at least reduce the toxicity and dysfunction of the information and discussion space produced by the internet. But I do have some critiques of their recommendations.
I’ll go over these soon, but for now I recommend others to read this article.
Where is the red line(s) that Donald Trump could not cross? The line(s) that if Trump crosses would lead to congressional Republicans, GOP leadership, and Trump supporters abandoning their support for Trump, and even strongly opposing him? The line that if Trump crosses would warrant the end of a presidency, either through intense public backlash or impeachment and removal? Do any of these lines exist?
Since none of the congressional Republicans, GOP party leaders, or prominent pundits have called for an end to Trump’s presidency, we can conclude the following are NOT red lines for these Trump supporters:
In these last four years, the GOP has shown me to be much worse than the Democrats. I never questioned their patriotism, commitment to the rule of law and Constitution prior to 2016. I believed that many had real convictions in conservative principles. Right now, besides power, I think they only care about tax cuts (and I think that’s related to their power as well).
But I’m not comfortable viewing the parties this way, as this is the way partisans think. Their perception of the other side is often a distortion, seeing them in the worst possible light. How do I know I’m not doing that now? I don’t think I can fully know.
That’s where this thread comes in. I’d like to gather evidence to support or refute my current perception. I welcome others to provide examples/evidence.
I will close with another basis for my perception. While both sides often portray the other side in the worst possible light, the last four years seem to have supported Democrats’ depictions of Republicans, rather than the other way around. For example, some Democrats have accused Republicans of being racist. I never thought this prior to 2016, but now this accusation isn’t easy to dismiss. Republicans characterized Democrats as socialists and/or communists, but Joe Biden was the Democratic nominee. (To be fair, the support for Sanders is not insignificant.) There’s more that could be said, and I hope this claim I’m making can be further scrutinized.