L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 193, October 7, 2002
The Myth of GOP Conservatism:
Special to TLE
As a paleoconservative, I find myself these days looking back at the Clinton Administration with a sort of warm, golden nostalgia. Much has changed since those days...and not for the better.
To anyone with even a basic understanding and respect for the Bill of Rights, the United States, since September 11, 2001, has begun a nightmarish descent. To put it simply, the Bush White House has put the Constitution on the chopping block in ways the Clintons would have never dared to attempt. The US public -- naive and obedient as always -- blithely sucked up the maudlin flag-waving and crocodile tears that accompanied the passage of the Patriot Act and the Office of Homeland Security. Authorities can now invade homes without warrants, arrest people without charges, and jail people without trials. The Feds have declared Posse Comitatus obsolete, and they are creating hordes of military police to be unleashed upon the country. A new branch of the military is now on the drawing board, to deal with "domestic threats" -- i.e., common American citizens. Despite the fact that we are not at war, the government continues to hold hundreds of military prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and apparently will deal with them using military tribunals. People in the Press continue their ongoing demonstration that there's no lie the Federal government can tell that they are willing to expose, and no usurpation of power that they will ever find objectionable. Even the United States' 'shadow government' has been openly discussed -- and no one dares to criticize the concept. Orwellian newspeak abounds.
The government continues to turn the word Treason on its head with its unconstitutional treatment of the public and its illicit treatment of 'enemy combatants' like Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla. In the latter case, the 'terrorist' is an American citizen being held without any charges, denied all legal representation, denied the right to defend himself, and the right to face his accusers. No one in the Imperial Media cares. Machiavellian plotting to establish armies of secret police and citizen informants goes on unabated, despite the fact that these measures did not pass Congress. The small public outcry generated by the TIPS plan is swept aside ... a citizen informant system will be implemented anyway. Why? Because the Attorney General says so. Apparently, Mr. Ashcroft learned a very valuable lesson from his predecessor, Janet Reno: The Attorney General is -- absolutely and without question -- above the Law, and is capable of creating policy by fiat, just like the President does. We now have a modern triumvirate of entities that create policy, and answer to no one: the Supreme Court, the President, and the Attorney General of the United States. All Americans are subservient to their whims.
The abuse of liberties in the name of safety goes on. The government continues to push for National ID cards and a computer chip implant tracking program for children -- it would appear that human privacy is just as irrelevant now as human liberty. Only human 'safety' is important, even if it's the safety of the gulag. The New York Times published an article suggesting that the Feds have built concentration camps within the United States ... there was no real denial from the Executive Branch. Media talking heads have actually asked citizens if they think torture of 'terrorist suspects' is a good idea -- as if to suggest that favorable public opinion would legitimize such tactics. In the War On Terror, no potential abuse of civil liberties goes unconsidered. One gets the queasy feeling that once official Washington has finished off what is left of the Constitution, they will revive the Inquisition and go after the Magna Carta next.
It is time for a realistic assessment: We are living in a Police State right now. Not six months from now. Not ten years down the road. Not if someone we do not like gets elected President. Not if all our guns are taken away.
The only reason you are reading this article here is because they haven't started censoring political dissent on the Internet ... yet. There are many evils that have not been implemented to date, but the mechanical apparatus of totalitarianism is completely in place, oiled, idling, and ready for use, thanks to the War On Terror.
America was fascistic and centralized before, but not nearly this bad. American citizens at least had some legal protections against government abuse in the past, and some means to keep an eye on the Feds -- these have been essentially stripped away. The Independent Counsel Act is dead, thereby making it much harder to investigate the Executive Branch. The FBI is rewriting its own rulebook to make Federal whistleblowing a dangerous and difficult thing to do. The Freedom of Information Act has essentially been nullified -- to protect our "national security". The Fourth Amendment is effectively dead until the USA-Patriot Act is repealed, or until it is declared unconstitutional by a high court. The Patriot Act's deadly provisions do not sunset, despite government misinformation to the contrary. Most of the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights have been ignored for years. They will certainly be ignored now that the Federal government has voted itself unlimited power and control over our domestic liberties in the name of security. Meanwhile, we are inches away from full-blown Martial Law, and in constant danger that it will be put into effect at the slightest new terrorist provocation.
Unfortunately, these changes are pretty much unknown to the typical indolent, unfocused US citizen. While the average American was lazing around, stuffing his face with potato chips, and watching "Big Brother"on TV, the Federal Government became Big Brother in real life. Sadly, it requires effort -- like reading and thinking -- to see that our liberties are being threatened from within; this is apparently beyond the scope of most modern Americans. Of course, another reason why there has been little outcry is because there has been very little information disseminated by the official state propaganda corps we once euphemistically called "the Free Press".
The biggest problem, however, is not the fat, lazy American or the many goose-stepping little Goebbels of our news media -- the big problem is that these changes have been wrought by a Republican President who was elected by millions of gullible conservatives. There is no "lesser of two evils" or philosophical core to the Republican Party, and the inarticulate Mr. Bush is proof of that pudding. The massive abrogations of freedom that have come from Washington since 9-11-01 are an official product of Republican governance. They cannot be blamed on Bill Clinton or Al Gore or Tom Daschle. The GOP has been wholly in charge of post-War-On-Terror Washington, and is fully responsible for the unconstitutional policies that have been enacted. These are oppressive government policies that -- if implemented in the 1990s, under Clinton and Reno, would have provoked screams of outrage. The mavens of talk radio are now silent about civil liberties, and seem only interested in discussing the joyful topic of going to war in the Mideast again, and killing more fleeing Iraqi soldiers. There are no philosophical principles behind the policies of the Bush Republicans; they simply want to seize as much Federal power as possible, and make war. The 21st Century conservative movement is not just an intellectual wasteland..it has become a primary threat to our freedoms as well.
However, the real reason the Republican Party is a threat to liberty is not because conservatism itself is an errant philosophy. The reason is because the Republican Party never stood for conservative values in the first place, and is lying to the public whenever it attempts to co-opt the values of conservatism. Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater were never the standard bearers, or the rule. They were the exceptions to the rule, at least when they were at their best, and were not being manipulated by empire builders themselves. The real Republican Party is and always has been an arrogant political body, dominated by snobs and big business people who are more interested in Robber Baronism than honest capitalism. They have always been ready and willing to use Big Government to enforce their schemes, to hand out corporate welfare to them, and to protect their investments -- particularly in the case of petroleum. The Republican establishment backs the Federal Reserve, the IRS, and other unconstitutional agencies while giving shifty-eyed lip service to the concept of small government and lower taxes. Such people have no populism in their soul, and no concern for the constitutional rights of the little people -- and they couldn't possibly care less about the size, scope, and intrusiveness of the government. Snotty corporate monopolist wannabes and closet socialists are the true heart and soul of the GOP ... not the poor, misled middle-class voters who believe "that government is best which governs least".
That is not to suggest that the Democrats are any better. They aren't; their party is a massive fraud as well. But they are also not any worse. Those voters who mistakenly thought they were worse are responsible for voting Bush into office, and thereby destroying the 4th Amendment. This abrogation of human liberty probably never would have happened under Gore, had there been a President Gore, because talk radio and the FOX News Channel would have provided large-scale political dissent that we do not have today. Unfortunately, the GOP masses have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are every bit as much a bunch of partisan lemmings as the Clintonistas were. And they have also disproven -- with their popular President, who is treated with kid gloves -- their own long-held contention that the elitist news media is liberal. On the contrary. The elitist news media is a whore, dancing to the tune of those with power and influence -- and if it is firmly anything at all, it is firmly Anti-Liberty and Pro-Big-Government. How fortunate for the Bushies that their beloved "President 911" stands for exactly the same things.
The word 'conservative' implies preservations of values and important traditions. In America, our most important traditions would be embodied in the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. By this standard, the most conservative Americans around today are libertarians, not Republicans. However, very few libertarians today would willingly claim the word 'conservative' ... and I can hardly blame them.
What is called 'conservative' today is warmongering 20th Century statism drummed to a flag-waving beat. The common diatribe used by liberals -- that 'Republicans are still living in the 1950s' -- is incorrect; they are actually living in the 1940s, instead. It is very telling, for example, that Rush Limbaugh is a huge fan of the Spielberg film "Saving Private Ryan", and had nothing but praise for Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation". How apropos that Limbaugh calls himself the "Doctor of Democracy". If Republicans pine for the histrionic days of World War II, they are nationalists -- not conservatives. They are longing for the nostalgic trappings of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's world, not a conservative culture. FDR was both a Communist and a liar, but, additionally, he was also a very effective warmonger and militarist. War, apparently, is very important to the Republicans -- they do not worry much about little things like rights or liberties; they want to be fantasy heroes with a gun, like Rambo or Dirty Harry. The star-spangled cloak that self-proclaimed conservatives like Rush and Hannity and O'Reilly and Kristol wrap themselves in is a fabric of big-government nationalism and military expansionism. If boot-stomping nationalism is all conservatism really stands for, the warmed-over '60s peacenik academics who have called Hitler a 'right-winger' are correct.
The true spiritual father of the Republican Party is not Goldwater, or Reagan, but Abraham Lincoln. Some people might misinterpret this as a compliment. I refer to the real Abraham Lincoln. The same Lincoln who suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus, and the same Lincoln who used a noble human idea -- the freeing of the slaves -- to wage a greedy war of aggression on a separate and sovereign nation, and to grind its culture and people into the ground. The same Abraham Lincoln who ordered the arrest and imprisonment of newspaper editors and publishers who disagreed with his war, and ordered Federal troops to demolish their printing presses. The same "Honest Abe" who ordered troops to interfere with the election process in opposition Congressional districts, and who ordered the arrest and imprisonment of several dozen state legislators. The same brooding tyrant who went on to order the military arrest of a sitting member of Congress who was a war opponent, and then have him deported from the United States.
Abraham Lincoln was the ultimate Federalist and the ultimate propagator of War. He was the summation and the embodiment of the essence of Republicanism. There is nothing new about this; it is how things have always been. Republicans in authority have almost always kowtowed to corrupt business interests and marched the US to war for greedy causes, just like Lincoln did. Any list of historically prominent GOP leaders is predominantly a list of globalists and elitists who have believed in a strong, centralized government. There is no grand and glorious history of GOP conservatism ... GOP conservatism is a sham. They are not capitalists or constitutionalists; they are statists.
And that is the ugly, untold truth of the Republican Party.
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