Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The Conservative Litmus Test, Part 1
While reading the hate mail generated by Shawn Macomber’s article about re-enfranchisement of felons (ex-felons, really, but I have a quibble with the term), I was struck by the idea that people believe that there are absolute litmus tests for membership in the GOP or for self-labeled conservatives in a more general sense. Shawn advocated something that they disagreed with and their immediate response was to kick him out of the clubhouse.
My first instinct was revulsion: I don’t like the idea of litmus tests and I do like the idea of the “big tent.” Give me dissent and lively debate and I’m a happy boy; disagreement on particulars--even some important ones--doesn’t mean that we can’t dine at the same club. Sometimes we just sit at different tables (to stretch an overused metaphor).
My second instinct was to beat myself up a bit: of course there are litmus tests. There are some things that are inviolable in being a member of a political party. There are some things that you could advocate that would mean you can’t be part of the happy conservative club.
The conservative side of the aisle is pretty hard to peg, though. It encompasses people with both isolationist and almost imperial designs on foreign policy; both free traders and protectionists; and a spectrum ranging from near-libertarians to near-socialists. Our own President Bush, for example, is more of a small tax socialist (an unhappy combination there) with a moderately conservative social agenda, some free trade instincts that get pushed back regularly by his protectionist policies, and an evolving, extremely engaged foreign policy.
I voted for the guy, I like the guy, but I don’t know that I would label him a conservative.
That begs the question, though: what is the litmus test to be either a conservative or a Republican? Or do we have to fragment the labels further to find the litmus test for each group, understanding that there simply won’t be agreement in some areas (like abortion, the death penalty, and our involvement in the Middle East)? Fragmenting further, though, threatens to make a situation where the term Republican comes to represent every combination of political thought that you can imagine (think of all the cocktail party self-definitions you’ve ever heard: “I’m a social liberal and a financial conservative").
If the tent grows too big we’ll be in an age where we can say, “We’re all Republicans now.” That’s demonstrably not true, but it leaves me where I started. What is the test, aside from self-identification, that defines a member of my tribe; what is the border that separates us from them in the big debate on ideas and the direction we take as a nation?
New Authors. New Engine. Same Zomby.
Welcome to the New and (Hopefully) Improved ResurrectionSong. Riding on Expression Engine, I’m hoping that comment and trackback spam are a thing of the past.
If you long to look at the old post and the old sites, for now, just use the “Really Old Posts” link on the right side navigation. That will take you to the front page of the old site where you fill find that everything except the comments and trackbacks still work. You’ll also find Steve Green as a Playgirl cover model, so beware.
There are four new members of the team. All of them are familiar faces to long-time readers and all of them will add a new flavor to the site. So I welcome Jerry, Don O, Remy, Jo, Jay, and Craig (one of the guys who helped make ResurrectionSong successful in the first place) as my co-bloggers--and I look forward to reading them in the coming months.
There are still bugs to sort out between the two blogging engines, so please forgive any bumpy moments. Between a full time job, bloggiing for your pleasure, freelance work, and the new company, it sometimes takes a bit to get to the smaller things.
Woohoo, I made it!
I made it, I made it! I just want to thank the Academy and all the little people who made this all possible… Oops, wrong speach. Time to wing it.
Hi. I’m Remy Logan. Ever since I was a little kid, and first happened upon ResurrectionSong I dreamed of being a member of the zomby team. Ever since I was rim-high to a monster truck I wanted to be the “and others” on RS, right next to Jerry and Opinion Engine. Now I’m all growed and here I am. Yes, dreams really do come true. Of course, it took a lot of work. zombyboy had to beg and plead with me to get me to sign up. I was like dude, okay already. I did wrangle out of him an awesome steak dinner and a stay at a luxury Rocky Mountain hotel whenever I pass through Rocky Mountain Blogger territory.
The worst part was he made me prove I could actually spell ResurrectionSong. I cut-and-pasted that sucker. I’m also supposed to write a 5,000 word essay either about myself or what I did last summer. Let’s see—I’ve travelled the world and been on every major continent except for Africa, Australia, Antartica, Europe (except for the British Isles), South America and the Indian subcontinent. I’ve visited every state in the Union and every one of Her Majesty’s provinces in Canada except for the really cold ones and some of the other ones. I like long walks on the beach at sunset, laughing in the rain, and running barefoot through the park. Oops, wrong website. Well, I guess I could tell you what I did last summer— sweated a lot. If I told you anymore the CIA would be all over my butt. [Note to the CIA guys: Don’t worry. I learned my lesson after the first time with the cattle prod.]
Well… that was exciting. This will probably be my last post ever. You know how it is with childhood dreams. You achieve them, and then what? I’ll frame this post and send it off to my mother. She’ll probably put it on the wall next to my handprints-in-plaster thingy and that naked picture of me when I was 5. I thought I’d burned the durned thing, turns out she’d had copies made. Always get the negative. In case you’re wondering what I look like now, let’s just say it turns out that I wasn’t too traumatized by that photo afterall.
BTW, half of what I wrote is true. My therapist promises to let me know, one day, which half it is.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
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