Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Three Republican Parties

By Ed Smallwood

A quick note before I get into my regular political ranting. I'm fairly new to blogging. In fact, I've really only been at it a few months, so I'm at the beginning of the learning curve. One of the parts I've been having trouble with is being topical. Another thing I've been having trouble with is posting regularly. I hope to fix the regular posting problem with this article. I intend to update my blog at least twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am also going to pay closer attention to Holidays such as MLK Day, which just passed without a mention by me. I really don't tend to pay attention to important days like this (including my own birthday, embarrassingly), but I am going to make an effort to pay more attention to these events from this day forward. MLK day will be mentioned in passing only in my next post, which should be done on this coming Thursday. I do intend to have a more in-depth article about Mr. King at some time in the future, and what his relevance is in this day, but it will take work that I haven't done yet. Stay tuned!

And now for something completely different. The actual post you were expecting.

While I may disagree with the Republican party on just about everything from how the economy is running, to where the country is going, to how we should get there, I must admire the way they have taken wildly diverse groups of people and made them think they have something in common. Three of these groups are officially important to the party, the Religious Conservatives, the Big-Business Conservatives, and the Fiscal Conservatives.

Think about it: What do Religious Conservatives, Big-Business Conservatives, and Fiscal Conservatives really have in common? No, honest. Think about it. I did, and came up with nothing. Let me expound on this for a while here.

Big business conservatives are really only concerned with giving big business an edge in the world. In the past this meant reducing government oversight so they could get away with more, and reducing corporate and personal taxes on the rich. It also meant keeping workers down by making Unions irrelevant, increasing the pool of possible employees by forcing people to work instead of getting an education (eliminating educational funds) and through increased immigration (legal or illegal), and anything else to keep wages down. If they could prevent consumers from having a choice, or getting time in a court of law when things don’t work as they’re supposed to, so much the better. In the past seven years of the Bush administration it has also meant funneling huge amounts of tax dollars to large corporations that contributed to Mr. Bush’s campaign or Republican Party coffers through no-bid contracts. Because of this, Big Business Conservatives enjoy having a big but weak government. Other than that, Big-Business Conservatives really don’t have a lot of concerns.

Fiscal Conservatives really want our government to be responsible with the way it runs our economy and how it spends our tax dollars (as few as possible, please.) They love it when we have a balanced budget and a low deficit. Low taxes and low inflation are good things for them. A smaller government also appeals to them, which is where it is possible to make them think they have something in common with the Big Business Conservatives. Often Fiscal Conservatives mistake the Big Business Conservative’s wish for less government oversight as being the same as a small government, but this is not the case.

Religious Conservatives have a shopping list of concerns, most of which come under the heading of “Family Values.” While many of these are unspoken, because they vary from person to person, or particular flavor of Christianity, some are brought up consistently. These include Abortion (or the hopeful banning of), Gay Marriage (or the again, hopeful banning of), making some form of Christianity the Official Religion of the United States, forcing people to pray in some official capacity, elimination of indecency (public or private), and a few other things. They really have no concerns over the government budget at all. The only other concern they have about the government is that it is able to control the private lives of individuals, and make it at least appear that everyone is living a moral lifestyle.

Now, here’s the thing I don’t understand: Out of the three groups outlined above, one has gotten little more than lip-service in my lifetime from the Republican Party, and yet they get the complete and unswerving loyalty of all three groups.

The Fiscal Conservatives were, note the past-tense there, were in control of the Republican Party until the Presidency of George H. W. Bush. When he lost his re-election bid, they were swept under the rug. Really. This Republican Party and their representatives in the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives haven’t done anything fiscally responsible since W. took the White House. Cutting taxes while spending tons of cash in a war? Running the deficit to levels higher than all other administrations combined? That’s certainly not fiscally responsible.

And how about the way the party has treated the Religious Conservatives since they started courting them back in the early 70’s? The Republican Candidates sure seem good at mentioning the things Religious Conservatives are concerned about during an election, like Gays and abortion, but I can’t remember a single bill in either house of Congress even being presented for a vote on either subject in my entire life. Nope. Not one. No ban on Abortion. No ban on Gay marriage. No Family Values. No prayer in schools. Heck, the only thing those lawmakers have done is go after underage page-boys. These guys in Washington wouldn’t know Jesus from Caligula. Yet the Religious Conservatives still refer to the Republican Party as “God’s Own Party.” I really have to wonder about a group of people who seem to like being treated so poorly for so long.

The biggest danger to the Republican Party is that these groups may just wake up and realize that they really don’t have anything in common with the GOP. All it would take is one charismatic preacher to decide to run for office as an independent on these issues, and the party would cleave in two. If a charismatic person with fiscally responsible street credentials ran as an independent as well the damage to the party would take years to fix, assuming it didn’t simply doom the party to the history books.

But that might not be a bad thing.

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