How Dare You Say The Emperor Has No Clothes!?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
As a reward for making a respectful, well-thought out argument in favor of the opposition candidate, Christopher Buckley now finds himself out of a job at the National Review, the very magazine his father founded. What insanity.

I've long wondered how certain conservatives must be feeling right now. Take a look at the Democratic Party - while I think that it's not perfect and they occasionally take stances I personally disagree with, overall I feel at peace with the party. Fundamentally, they represent the values and philosophies that I hold near and dear to my heart. Again, this is not to say that I am not occasionally disgusted by the political games that must be played to hold power in the Beltway. But I forgive those missteps, because at the end of the day, they mostly do a good job with the issues that matter to me.

Conservatives, however, do not seem to be that lucky. Christopher Buckley isn't the first prominent conservative to express dismay at the current state of the GOP. There is a real schism in the Republican Party right now, which is partially why McCain is struggling in the general election (and partially why he got nominated in the first place).

Part of the problem, I think, is the way the Republican Party has conducted itself. It is an intensely rigid party - members have always had massive pressure to parrot and vote the party line, and I've always gotten the impression that dissent (public at least) has never been tolerated. This leads to one faction getting to lead the party platform. But the problem is, many of the major factions have serious philosophical beliefs that seem irreconcilable with each other. The libertarians' desire to have minimal government intervention in any matters is in direct conflict with the social conservatives' desire to legislate personal behavior at the state and federal level (e.g. banning same sex rights, abortion, introducing various bills regulating morality in movies, videogames and so forth) and the hard-liners' desire to increase federal funding for faith-based groups and military spending. I know many Republicans who are classic fiscal conservatives, but social liberal, and they too have to feel strange supporting a party that has expanded the federal government in size and power, while at the same time actively seeking to suppress civil rights for minorities and immigrants.

Contrast that to the Democratic Party, which has always been more comfortable with its motley collection of various groups, and has allowed for a bit more public discussion and debate within its ranks. And at the end of the day, the various Democratic factions - feminists, union guys, environmentalists, progressives, peace activists, etc - all mostly subscribe to the same belief that government has a responsibility to intervene in a variety of issues important to running a stable society and to provide opportunities for the less fortunate. They are less invested in the "no dissent = strong party" notion, and more into coalition-building, which I believe allows the various groups to exist with a touch more harmony.

This is not to get into a "my party is better than your party" sort of post or argument. I personally hate the 2 party system, and have always wished for a true 3rd and 4th party alternative. Up to now, however, that hasn't happened for whatever reason. Still, I look at the state of the Republican Party today, and for the first time I think perhaps there is an opportunity for some of those factions to break away and form a viable 3rd party. I see the libertarian movement as the one most likely to break off at this point (yes, there is already an official Libertarian Party, but has only minimal influence right now), perhaps taking the fiscal conservative/social liberal types with them. I could also see an intra-party revolt by the old school Buckley-types, who believe in intellectual debate and probably despise the far-right types who have engaged in "intelligent = elitist = BAD THING" style politics.
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