We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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The loudest voices in political parties tend to be the ideologues, and ideologues always want ideological purity. Ideologies become almost like religions to some people but, like religions, most of them are wrong. (I write this as an old-fashioned Yankee conservative ideologue, for whom freedom from government intrusion, control, taxation, and annoyance is a primary consideration. And defence, of course, for national elections.)
But American political parties are not liberal vs. conservative,and definitely not Left vs. Right - whatever "right" means. Both parties, most of the time, are pragmatic in governance, with a few sexy issues thrown in as red meat to their ideological base. (The news rarely reports the 99% of non-controversial governance that goes on in the executive offices of administrations, from the local to the federal.)
Purity is not a good thing: internal debate is much more wholesome and American - unless politics is a religion to you. Mutts are always healthier than pure breeds.
When you think about it, how do party affiliations begin? They are either inherited via argument or habit, or someone who wants to get into the game tends to join the party that has the most power where they live.
I repeat: the Republican Party is not a Conservative Party, nor is the Democratic Party a Liberal or Socialist Party, in essence. Nor should they be, but the ideologues always want them to be. That is natural.
What parties are, in essence, are fund-raising financial organizations designed to elect people who join their club, and to provide and support debate and opposition. Like baseball teams.
That is why I was offended when a conservative Repub challenged liberal Republican Chaffee in RI, and I have no doubt that the damage from the primary is why Chaffee lost reelection: the controversy interfered with his quietly winning as people named Chaffee tend to do in RI, like people named Kennedy in MA. And this is why I was offended by Lamont's primary challenge to Lieberman. Both of those challenges were done on the grounds of ideological purity, as if motivated by Stalinist party-line doctrine.
That is silly, and self-destructive: it's a big country, with many points of view on things (and anyone who disagrees with me is, of course, also Wrong Wrong Wrong).
America is a majority conservative, tradition-respecting country, but above all, it is a pragmatic country. DeToqueville figured out, a long time ago, that pragmatism was a big part of our genius as a nation.
While we tend to think that the two parties do tend "conservative" and "liberal," in fact there is plenty of overlap. For one example, the federal budget grew faster during Bush's time than it did during Clinton. So who is fiscally conservative, really? And who is the big spender? (Yes, I know about the war, but that is just part of the spending of our money. And yes, I know, Clinton was restrained by Repubs - but Repubs cannot restrain themselves!) Why was that? Bush was trying to be a pragmatist, not a conservative. Same as his dad, same as B. Clinton, same as Nixon, same as John F. Kennedy, same as Truman, same as Eisenhower. FDR, I believe, was a pragmatist who was captured by ideologues.
Our (and my) conservative hero, Reagan, was a great teacher, but he was not even able, in eight years, to get a majority to close the highly annoying and intrusive federal Department of Education. His most important domestic accomplishment was to add some good folks to the Supreme Court - and the same goes for Bush.
My point is highlighted by the number of conservative Democrats who have been elected this go-round, including, late last night (giving the Dems a Senate majority), the seemingly excellent candidate Jim Webb of Virginia. Good for them. It's healthy - and sane, because you could not build a national party with 100 Ted Kennedys or with 100 Tom Tancredos (although I do like Tom very much).
So although it makes it convenient for the MSM and blog ranters to ideologically divide the parties, and then demonize the image of the party they dislike, and to idealize the image of the one they like, usually the reality is not exactly like that.
What I want to see are most conservative Dems from the South and the West, and more liberal Repubs from the Northeast and California. Rahm Emanuel learned this from Clinton - or vice versa. Yes, it makes things more complicated but, heck, it the whole system was designed to be complicated, on purpose.
Is this really about the election? Not really, I guess. Mid-terms are usually rough on incumbent parties, and this was no different - except that the margin had grown so thin since the 1994 Gingrich Revolution that it tipped the balance. But conservatives always have a tough challenge: their goal is to devolve power back to the people and to localities - which means undoing more than doing. A tough row to hoe, always. Even for Reagan.
Like Christians in the Coloseum, conservatives shine most brightly in adversity, and in opposition. Cheerful warriors!
Reagan was so cool, he reduced the size of the government.
He sure did. He reduced the size of the deficit to below the
level of all the Presidents preceding him added together.
He sure did. He dismantled the EPA. Did he? He weakened
government oversight of business enough so that Ken Lay
and a few others could get really rich on their employees'
pension plans. Or did he?