American conservatism has exhausted its credibility

It had quite a good run, from 1980 to now, pulling the political center-of-gravity to the right and obliging even the Dems to follow and catch up. But what’s left of it now? You guys let yourselves get too close to the Tea Party and the alt-right – that stain won’t come out for another generation. The social/religious right was Always Wrong About Everything that distinguished it from anything else, and has no future in a society where the Millennials are less religious, racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic than any elder generation – and the GenZ or Zoomers show no sign, as yet, of reversing that trend. If there really is a Culture War, as the right has been insisting since then 1990s, then that is a war the RW is doomed to lose, and has all but lost already; the present admin is its last gasp, its Ghost Dance. As for supply-side or neoliberal economics, in all the times and ways it has been tried over the past 40 years, it has never accomplished anything but its true intended purpose, which is to make the rich richer and nothing else. Socialism – hell, even Communism – is beginning to look credible by comparison once again.

At the same time, we are now seeing the beginnings of something America has not had for decades – a serious mass-based left-progressive movement. Bernie Sanders is the left’s Barry Goldwater, the candidate who in losing at least transformed his cause into something to be taken seriously. Paving the way for . . . well, the left’s Ronald Reagan remains TBD (Biden it ain’t, nor Harris, in all likelihood). Almost certainly it will be someone much younger – and, sorry, Bernie, let’s face it, this country is not ready to elect a president who sounds more like a New York Jew than Woody Allen does.

There used to be a time when conservatism meant sound, old-fashioned folksy common sense - like delayed gratification, saving instead of spending, discipline, hard work ethos, etc. - values that are good for all nations.

Instead it has completely shot all those to pieces. Delayed gratification? Today it’s conservatives calling for immediate re-opening of everything in a pandemic and refusal to wear masks, who cares if it leads to much worse things later on.

Well, there was also a time when the GOP was the respectable party, the party of ladies and gentlemen. Can’t recall seeing a single one of those at this year’s RNC, and I watched every night of it.

And I didn’t even mention warhawkish neoconservative foreign policy. Even the GOP has given up on that, if Trump is any indication.

Did you forget that thing in January where Individual-ONE tried to get a war going with Iran?

Well, Trump does appear sincere in disclaiming interest in foreign military adventures. He reduced our troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. He demands a bigger and better military establishment, but he does not appear to have any particular use for it in mind. I was concerned that someone as impetuous as he is would intervene in Venezuela, but apparently he’s not really that aggressive.

I gotta agree that, in spite of all of his seemingly infinite immense well of utter b*llshit, his non-interventionist policy is actually a legitimate political viewpoint (whether you personally agree with it or not). Now, the fact that the GOP/Right turned a 180 to follow his lead on this is the telling point. Much like with the embrace of Russia, where is the GOP conservatism of old?

Well. we need to bear in mind that while Trump still has a solid hold on the 40% who are his base, they are more a cult of personality than an ideological bloc. Once he’s gone, a leader with very different politics might appeal to them. Indeed, early in 2016 many voters were wavering between Trump and Sanders, seeing both as anti-establishment candidates.

As for the “GOP conservatism of old,” I think they’re going to need some time in the wilderness to reconstruct that from the ground up in a form more suitable to the 21st Century.

Again regarding the Millennials and Zoomers, they’re not necessarily socialists – an economic-libertarian message might appeal to some of them. But religious/social conservatism won’t. The old “Christian consensus” in American society has long since faded past the possibility of revival.

I don’t have a cite to hand, but I heard on MSNBC shows several times over the last week or so, that Trump has increased the number of troops in Afghanistan. There are more there now than at the beginning of his term.

Isn’t destroying norms the exact opposite of conservatism? The GOP may be right wing, but it sure as hell isn’t conservative.

In fact, by any rational definition, it is radical, wildly radical.

The national GOP is now a personality cult, no more, no less. It is not a healthy political party.

I think it’s pretty telling how many people identify as ‘Conservative, but not what the majority of people who are conservative actually vote for or do in practice, oh no’ and often fail to explain even what their version of conservative is. “American Conservatism” now means embracing outright bigotry, blatantly anti-democratic practices (voter suppression and encouraging voter fraud), opposing science, destroying long-standing, respected institutions (Post Office, public education, social security), and opposing civil rights and due process (Blue Lives Matter) and that ‘fiscal conservatism’ means letting a pandemic run rampant while people die of preventable causes so that billionaires can hoard more money, while spending more for worse healthcare than any other country, and more for a huge military-industrial complex than any other country. While that’s been the case since the turn of the millennium, Trump has ripped off the fig leaf that let them claim to stand for anything positive.

Are there any surveys pointing to Millennials and Zoomers wanting to remove all product inspections, all labor protections, all anti-discrimination laws, all minimum wage, all socialized medicine and medical regulation, and all environmental protection laws? Oh, and remove any kind of wealth tax or graduated income tax and move entirely to (extremely regressive) sales tax to fund the governmnet? Because that’s the Libertarian Party’s view on economics, and I don’t think it’s exactly something that will appeal to younger voters at all. The LP works as a protest vote, but when you actually sit down and look at it’s actual policies it doesn’t reach anyone (which is why they always get a few percent of the vote but never get taken seriously).

I’m pretty sure that Trump is the most Libertarian president we’ve had since the LP came into being as measured by putting planks from the LP into practice, and he’s not exactly the M/Z favorite.

I just received my first pro-Trump robo-text. Because my phone’s area code is where I used to live, I don’t know if it’s directed at voters where that was or voters where I am. It says:

Biden refuses to condemn the radical left-wing rioters. Pres Trump acts to defend our American safety. His strength is clear. Reply “learn” to learn more.

The longest sentence is 8 words. All 3 substantive sentences are demonstrably false. Almost all the words have 1 syllable. It’s pretty obvious it wasn’t directed at persuading someone like me.

I think that right there is pretty much the entire Trump campaign message in a nutshell: “Only Mr. Strongman can save you from those scary rioters.” I wonder how many of these texts are coming from spammers in Russia or Bulgaria vs. “legit” USA-based mass marketing agencies?

I would expect at least some Millennials and Zoomers to be of economic-libertarian inclination just because, being young and hotblooded and shaped by certain disillusioning generational experiences, they might be disinclined to trust institutions – including business, but also including government. And, being young and vigorous, some of them might fool themselves they have what it takes to be Randian entrepreneurial or artistic supermen.

And then there’s the white nationalists. Whether they can properly be considered part of post-Goldwater movement conservatism at all is hotly debatable, but they certainly vote more R than D, nowadays. The events of the past four years have shown that we can’t simply discount them – but, also, that they aren’t going anywhere. Their movement is too small to really matter and has no prospects to grow. Most of the Trumpers who chant “Build the wall!” would never march under a swastika.

What I’ve seen is that they realize that you can’t have social liberalism without economic liberalism, and going to ‘like our current late-stage capitalism, but with fewer protections’ is clearly a bad route. Obviously there are right-wingers in the M/Z, but I don’t think there’s a significant group that is socially liberal but also likes libertarian economics. M/Z have been hit hard with student-debt slavery, stagnant wages plus skyrocketing corporate profits, gross corporate abuse of labor laws (unpaid interns, ‘don’t let them work over 30 hours/week or just classify them as contractors so the don’t get benefits’, 'don’t give them any kind of schedule even a week in advance) and Millennials are on the second once-in-a-lifetime recession of their working lives. The weird Boomer-culture habit of blaming M/Z for things that Boomers did (like participation trophies or not teaching kids life skills) or for living within their much-more-limited means (like ‘Millennials killed X industry’) doesn’t help this at all IMO, and leads to extreme distrust of the capitalistic world.

I don’t think the “Randian superman” idea has a fit with the socially progressive portion of M/Z, and the full-on right wingers already have the Republican cult to turn to. Of course ‘some’ people will go for libertarian ideas, but ‘some’ isn’t really meaningful. I think the vast majority of socially progressive M/Z pretty much all lean towards what the SMDB regulars would consider far-left and right wingers would consider outright communists, and that any kind of libertarian message is going to flop badly.

I bet if you messaged “learn”, you’d learn how you can donate money to keep our country from being burned to the ground by Antifa. If by some chance the reply took you somewhere other than the “donate“ page, it would only be one click away.

I think the conservative movement is being hollowed out by its own grift. They shot themselves in one foot by winning Citizens United, and shot themselves in the other one by making the IRS investigation into Tea Party groups a politicized scandal.

Conservatives should be outraged. As a liberal, I love it. Campaigns that are geared towards bilking hardcore supporters tend not to appeal to centrists. The way I see it, the Trump campaign and all the other PACs and superPACs and the like - fundraised to collect money to use for more fundraising to use for more fundraising…and the next thing you know they’d collected a billion dollars but didn’t have much money left for campaigning.

So, can a conservative movement so hollowed out survive in some form, and on what basis?