I often tell myself I could be a better conservative than them. It wouldn't be hard. I have libertarian bones, like most Americans. We want the government to protect us and leave us alone, that delicate balancing act that, in a world of nanotechnology, is going to get harder and harder to perform. But it's really not that tricky. Conservatives should be reality based, do what would actually make us safer (which is more like Ron Paul's position than John Bolton's).
They should not be afraid of logic which leads to a conclusion similar to Dennis Kucinich. The liberal left and the reasonable right have much more in common than most of them would care to admit. If the Nationalist Times could get over its racism, they'd have some decent solutions about some things, like keeping government out of medical decisions, a position long held by the libertarian liberals on issues like abortion, medical marijuana, and euthanasia.
But first, the conservatives of the US need a catharsis: George W Bush ruined this country. Rush Limbaugh may be hoping Obama fails at big-government rescue, but it's really too late. George W. Bush (aided amply by Dick Cheney and Rush) drove this country right off a cliff, and Obama is trying to stitch together a big enough parachute to save the whole car. It's probably too late to save the car. But it is not too late to save those occupants who are willing to start stitching their own little parachutes, and we can wind up falling a little slower with a contraption that's going to look a little like the seagulls James lassoed to carry his giant peach.
We'll probably still have a hard landing, but maybe we can slow it all down enough to not break our legs when we hit. All the "conservatives" -- and I would argue that there really aren't many any more -- who can't realize that they were wrong about Bush, wrong about Iraq, wrong about Cheney, wrong about trickle down economics, and wrong about practically every social issue from Terry Schiavo to Sodomy, are going to have to crash. Continuing on at this point as if George Bush wasn't the worst president ever, as if Dick Cheney doesn't belong in prison, as if Donald Rumsfeld doesn't deserve to be "sleep deprived" for days, is the intellectual equivalent of a quivering bowl of decomposed fruit with ditto head flies swarming around it.
If I were a conservative right now (and in many ways I am), I would be encouraging bigger investment in infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient. I would be encouraging micro-loans to the poor to help them start small local businesses. I would demand that food stamp programs only get increases if the recipients can use that money at farmer's markets and on community supported agriculture programs. I would strongly encourage small, local power producers, and companies that create on site energy creation, especially in rural areas.
If I were a conservative right now, I would strongly encourage people to grow their own food in organic victory gardens or urban rooftop gardens, or community gardens on empty lots, like they're doing in Detroit now. The roots of the conservative philosophy lie in independence. This disaster brought on by the insolent teenager of a president and his Dr. Strangelove sidekick offers a chance for conservatives to get back to their roots and encourage the people of this country to become independent, to help each other, and to reward behavior that makes things better, while punishing those who make it worse.
Today's LA Times has a great story about the Mad Maxing that's going on right now, in this case at abandoned construction projects around southern California.
At its Oakland site, structures dating to World War II were to have been demolished by now to make way for 1,000 homes and a shopping center.
But workers walked off the job when their payments stopped, leaving behind piles of debris. A nine-story hospital the developers planned to raze was invaded by squatters.
In the Sacramento River Delta area of Contra Costa County at SunCal's planned Delta Coves housing development, blowing sand is filling in a new lagoon, and crucial water pumping systems are unmonitored.
Eight years of robber barons in charge has left us in a world we are much more equipped to deal with than many think. One of the facts (I know, conservatives, it's hard to get used to the idea that there are facts to be found outside of Fox News) that LA Times story touches on is that the thieves who show up in these abandoned construction projects are there to take copper wire and other commodities that are valuable. These people have been watching the robber barons do this to the whole country for the last 8 years. They are watching now as they all get away with it. And while there may not be a Wall Street worth plundering ever again, there will be things that aren't tied down. And unless those things are protected by armed guards, they will be stolen. In the Mad Max world Bush has left us with, people are left on their own to survive with whatever they can find.
We have the know-how and where-with-all to create resilient communities that produce their own power, grow their own food, and live sustainably without oil or coal. We just have to get used to the idea that we've been robbed. We have to start over, from scratch, with very little to help us besides government and abandoned industries to supply scraps. To what extent a federal government will be able to help a system that needs a lot of independent nodes, we will see. One reason I've chosen to not become a conservative is that I believe the government can help.
But it's going to need some basic conservative help, or it can easily get out of control. Hopefully, there are some conservatives willing to step up to a podium, admit that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Limbaugh conservatism is over. Bombastic, disagreeable, authoritarian, top-down, imperialistic, interventionist assholes are going to have to step aside and shut the hell up for a while. They had 8 years to do what they assured us was the absolute right thing to do, and it turned out they were lying, torturing thieves who literally stole billions of dollars (in deregulated Ponzi schemes, or by taking pallets of cash directly out of the US Mint and flying it to Baghdad where it disappeared). Any talk of government spending being out of control is just more of the same shit that trickled down their legs since Reagan. This government is going to spend on infrastructure and people, and the most the conservatives can hope to do is direct some of it in ways that they prefer.
The conservative in me would like to see the investments lead to more independence and less centralization. Is there any principal more important to conservative philosophy? At this point, it seems more likely that President Obama will preserve that principle more than the GOP will.