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Stewart Acuff Headshot

Maybe Conservatism is Dead?

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It is more and more fun to read the newspaper stories, articles, blog
posts, and the rest about the demise of conservatism and/or the
Republican Party.

It is no wonder there is so much speculation. Just watch John Boehner
or Mitch McConnell or the nightly news or catch a clip of Rush
Limbaugh ranting on Morning Joe. The leaders of the Republican Party
and the ideologues of conservatism have no answers for any of the
problems that our country and our people are trying to deal with.

Recently, I saw an opinion piece by Steven Hayward of the American
Enterprise Institute in the Washington Post. His piece was headlined
"Is Conservatism Dead?"

Hayward's point was that, of course, conservatism isn't dead, but that
the ideology needed a balance between right wing populism and
intellectual heft. He noted the success of William F. Buckley as a
public intellectual.

Shockingly, Hayward lifted up Fox News' Glenn Beck as a thoughtful
conservative who bridges the gap between right wing populism and
intellectual heft. To hold Glenn Beck up as either the future or
savior of conservatives is laughable on its face. Beck doesn't even
take himself seriously. And Beck's open, ugly and visceral hatred for
those he disagrees with will hardly draw thoughtful young people or
independents to his ideology.

Hayward then criticizes progressives for the "belief in political
solutions for everything..." This is one of the right's scariest
notions, because politics is how free people in democracies solve
social problems.

Conservatism's illness has other symptoms. For one thing, right wing
ideologues now call themselves conservatives. Folks like Glenn Beck
and Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove are hardly conservatives. They want to
continue to transfer power and wealth from the great majority of
Americans to those who already have too much and who've brought on the
greatest economic crisis in 80 years. Just the other night I was on
Fox Business debating these right wing nutcases about health care
reform and the public health care plan. One of them admitted that they
thought of Canada as a socialist country. I said that is just how
bizarre their thinking is.

That kind of bizarre right wing (conservative thinking) has brought us
30 years of declining wages, 15-18% unemployment, 50 million Americans
without health care, CEOs making 400 times that of the average worker,
increasing poverty, a shrinking and stressed middle class, a falling
standard or living, a government that lied to take us into an
unnecessary and disastrous war, the worst economic crisis in 80 years,
a business-government ethos that produced obscene greed and gluttony
at the highest levels, ballooning debt, a coarsening of our culture
and political discourse, and a shredding of any notion of our Nation's
common good.

Maybe conservatism is dead.