It’s Too Late To Lose Your Religion
If your view of conservatism is one rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government … then the GOP is no longer your party (or mine).
If you ask why I remain such a strong Obama supporter, it is because I see him as that rare individual able to withstand the zeal without becoming a zealot in response, and to overcome the recklessness of pure religious ideology with pragmatism, civility and reason. That’s why they fear and loathe him. Not because his policies are not theirs’. But because his temperament is their nemesis.
Liberals, including me, have made this argument for a long time, but we were dismissed as exaggerating. We saw the trend in the Republican Party and where it was headed a long time ago. It’s too late for fellow Republicans to realize this; the damage is done and if any Republican even suggests what Andrew Sullivan is suggesting below, they will be branded a heathen and a liberal.
It’s happened to Bruce Bartlett and David Frum, and others who have gone against that immense tide. They were both kicked out of their respective conservative organizations because they dared challenge the conventional wisdom of the Republican Party. They’ve been excommunicated and will never be considered a member again – and every word they utter will simply make the Republicans angrier and more solid in their beliefs.
It’s too late to put the cat in the bag. Sullivan seems to have hope, but I don’t.
If he defeats them next year, they will break, because their beliefs are so brittle, but will then reform, along Huntsman-style lines. If they defeat him, I fear we will no longer be participating in a civil conversation, however fraught, but in a civil war.
Perhaps that’s just my pessimism talking, but I don’t think so. Religious conviction is strong, zealotry is powerful, and when you’ve got a feedback loop and lobbyist pressure and money and promise of wealth and power, the faith intensifies.