If you’re a conservative, and I mean a true conservative, this is not a good time for you. Small government and trimming regulations are generally a good thing, but the wingnut wing of the Republican Party counted on the invisible hand of Adam Smith to keep the ship of state afloat. Instead, the cold dead hand of Ken Lay reached from the grave (or the South American city where Kenny Boy’s hiding out under an assumed name*) and smacked the markets around like an drunken stepdad** smacks his wife’s kids around for whispering too loud during his hangover.
Meanwhile, as you ponder how best to pursue your principles of small, hands-off government while President Obama keeps nervously checking the balance on the national credit card as he cleans up the mess, the wingnuts want to focus on what’s really important: Gay marriage, Obama’s birth certificate, and submitting budget proposals with no actual numbers.
Worse, your intellectual leader, William F. Buckley, and your icon, Ronald Reagan, are dead. You’re stuck with Limbaugh (drug-addicted racist) and Dick Cheney (who didn’t even wait for Bush’s plane to land before talking smack about his ex-boss). Oh, and lest we forget, Carribou Barbie’s become a bit of a trainwreck, hasn’t she? (Will I get sued for that? Settle down, sweetie. It’s called an opinion, and you’re fully entitled to mine.) What to do? What to do?
Here’s my suggestion. Let the Republican ship burn and take the wingnuts down with it. You’ll be glad you did.
Where will you go? For starters, there’s a Libertarian Party who would love to have the more fiscally conservative among you. You’ll like the Libs. They have a sense of humor. They even make fun of themselves. When do wingnuts do that? Never. Anything outside the wingnut ideology is treason to them, which is one more reason to let them burn the Republican Party down around them. You won’t miss it. Trust me.
“But, Jim, I’m more of moderate than conservative. What about me?”
OK, don’t take this the wrong way, but you are free to become a Democrat. They have a nice big tent and already some conservatives hang out under it. Join them. Besides, the Dems do centrism better than the Republicans, and they’re more successful in the center than the left. You’ll not only do yourselves a favor, you’ll do them one as well.
“But what about them hardline liberals?”
Politely invite them to go to the Green Party. And I don’t mean that as a slam. Ever notice the more extreme liberal positions sound more reasonable coming from a Green than a Democrat? By all means, send them on their way. With your more conservative brethren swelling the ranks of the Libertarians and giving them the long-sought legitimacy they’ve craved, you’ll do America the biggest favor anyone could do short of banning all political parties: Kill the two-party system and make this a three-party nation. More would be even better.
Of course, we’ll have to rethink the way we elect officials to account for the long-overdue death of the two-party system, but hell. We’re Americans. We beat the Russians to the moon, invented the Internet, and managed to stop the spread of Paulie Shore beyond North America***. We can surely figure this one out.
Like I said, forget the Republican Party. You won’t miss it. And when you look back on it, you’ll think fondly of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower and Reagan. You won’t have Rush Limbaugh to overmedicate anymore.
*No, I don’t believe it. But being wrong on Ken Lay’s death would not surprise me in the least.
**I have been drunk as a stepdad, but the most abuse I could muster was singing “Where O Where Are You Tonight?” at the top of my lungs.
***Sorry, Canada, but with MTV causing most of the trouble, there’s only so much we could do.
May I respectfully suggest that, instead of the Libertarian party (where the inmates are *also* running the asylum unchecked, they just display different symptoms), moderate conservatives might want to check out the Modern Whig Party?
For one thing, the Whigs don’t have the last 20 years of the loony-Libertarian reputation to overcome before anyone will take them seriously. And as a progressive, I’d like to see a legitimate political party take up the cause of the traditional conservatives; public debate on policies is a *good* thing if honestly conducted, because it can expose hidden pitfalls in time to fix them *before* a plan is implemented.