During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Republicans enjoyed a cohesiveness and focus not seen since. Even despite the crushing Republican victory in the 2010 mid-term elections – which was far more a statement of dissatisfaction with Democratic Party policy than it was an endorsement of Republicans – the party of Lincoln has been in self-destruct mode. Whilst the Democratic Party has become a soul-less, monolithic bloc of lock-step – or, more accurately, goose-step – ideologues, the Republican Party is still trying to herd cats.
It is true that there exists one difference of opinion on the Left; on the one hand, many traditional Democrats, who would still identify as ‘Liberals’ or ‘Social Democrats’, know that government is not the answer to every problem. On the other hand, Progressivism has become the dominant force; openly supported by the Socialist Party, the Progressives have infiltrated every element of modern American society – most specifically, the education system. Progressives believe that private citizens have no right to freedom of thought, speech, action or even ownership of anything; they are the ultimate Statists, insisting that government alone should provide everything – and control everything. Democratic voters, however, blindly support their party whilst paying no heed to that party’s agenda. Proof of this becomes evident when one considers that the Obama administration is guilty of every action for which Democrats so despised the Bush administration.
On the political Right, by contrast, there is growing dissent and an increasingly visible divergence of ideology. There still exists the Republican voter; like the Democratic voter, they will follow the party line – neither knowing nor caring where it leads, so long as the name of their man, or woman, has an R after it. The establishment Republican both fears and loathes the true Conservative, who is seen as a disruptive influence on the big government, big business Republican agenda. The extremist wing of the Conservative movement is generally known as the Religious Right; on the one hand, its inhabitants give the appearance of loyalty to the Constitution but they are marked out by deep-seated intolerance of any religious faith other than Christianity or Judaism. Whilst most Conservatives are Christian or Jewish, they still willingly accept the First Amendment concept of freedom of religion. The deeply religious Conservative, on the other hand, would have the government impose laws based on their own moral values and the United States – given enough time – would come to resemble a Christian version of Saudi Arabia, devoid of any religious and theological diversity and intolerant of any fashion, entertainment or lifelstyle-choice that it deems immoral.
The other, and arguably fastest growing, faction of the political Right is the Libertarian movement. Whilst Conservatives and Libertarians are kindred spirits and have come together under the TEA Party umbrella, traditional Republicans – particularly the Statist, Progressive arm of the party, represented by the likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham – see Libertarianism as an anarchic, guerilla movement that threatens to scuttle the Republican establishment. In truth, Libertarians still believe in the rule of law and the role of government; they simply understand that the government’s role should be limited and that the only legitimate laws are those that truly guard society against total mayhem. Libertarians do not have follow a different belief-system from Conservatives, they merely take the limited-government concept a step further and they are socially permissive to a degree with which many Conservatives are uneasy.
As if there weren’t enough cats for the Republican Party to herd, even the Libertarian movement is fractured; Those that cleave to the Libertarian Party doctrine tend to jump on every conspiracy theory; the government was behind the 9/11 attacks; there was no moon landing; the sinister and shadowy cabal that rules the planet is bent on global genocide, etc. Most notably, Libertarian Party loyalists are isolationist; they are opposed to any form of American intervention in foreign affairs, for almost any and every reason. The many Americans who self-identify as Libertarian but feel no loyalty to the Party are not so isolationist; whilst they are opposed to overweight government agencies – even the Department of Defense – they understand that the United States cannot afford to disengage so completely from world affairs – put simply, they see the wisdom of the old adage that if we do not fight our enemies ‘over there’, we will end up fighting them over here.
The true Libertarian holds sacred the words of Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket what difference is it to me?” The stark truth about Americans is that many of those who call themselves Conservatives, and even a large number of those who would say that they are Liberal are – in truth – Libertarian, without even realizing it.
Leftists, other than the very small percentage who can still think for themselves, have a pack mentality; they will follow the leader without question; they tolerate no dissent; they are blind to the stupendous hypocrisy of allowing their political representatives to do the very same things for which they excoriate Republicans. Rightists, by definition, are opposed to the group-think concept. The mere fact that the TEA Party is still not an official political party with a nationally recognized leader and universally agreed upon manifesto is proof of this. It is now very clear that the Republican leadership has abandoned its principles and its traditional constituents, yet it tries, with increasing desperation, to herd the right-wing cats.
McCain, Graham, Speaker Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell et al have no agenda other than maintaining relevancy and preserving their lucrative political careers. They simply do not understand that you cannot herd Conservatives and Libertarians, for those are the very people who understand that truly great and lasting societies are built, not from the top down by overbearing political machines, but from the ground up by determined and courageous individuals.
An op/ed by Graham J Noble