[FoRK] Conservatives for Kerry
owen at permafrost.net
Wed Aug 4 08:24:25 PDT 2004
Well - against Bush anyway.
John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge: Five reasons that
conservatives might cheer a GOP loss
John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
August 1, 2004 MICKLETHWAIT0801
One of the secrets of conservative America is how often it has welcomed
Republican defeats. In 1976, many conservatives saw the trouncing of the
moderate Gerald Ford as a way of clearing the path for the ideologically
pure Ronald Reagan in 1980. In November 1992, George H.W. Bush's defeat
provoked celebrations not just in Little Rock, where the Clintonites
danced around to Fleetwood Mac, but also in some corners of conservative
"Oh yeah, man, it was fabulous," recalled Tom DeLay, the hard-line
congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, who had feared another "four years
of misery" fighting the urge to cross his party's too-liberal leader. At
the Heritage Foundation, a group of right-wingers called the Third
Generation conducted a bizarre rite involving a plastic head of the
deposed president on a platter decorated with blood-red crepe paper.
There is no chance that Republicans would welcome the son's defeat in
the same way they rejoiced at the father's. George W. is much more
conservative than George H.W., and he has gone out of his way to throw
red meat to each faction of the right: tax cuts for the antigovernment
conservatives, opposition to gay marriage and abortion for the social
conservatives and the invasion of Iraq for the neoconservatives. Still,
there are five good reasons why, in a few years, some on the right might
look on a John Kerry victory as a blessing in disguise.
First, President Bush hasn't been as conservative as some would like.
Small-government types fume that he has increased discretionary
government spending faster than Bill Clinton. Buchananite
paleoconservatives, libertarians and Nelson Rockefeller-style
internationalists are all furious -- for their very different reasons --
about Bush's "war of choice" in Iraq. Even some neocons are irritated by
his conduct of that war -- particularly his failure to supply enough
troops to make the whole enterprise work.
The second reason conservatives might cheer a Bush defeat is to achieve
a foreign-policy victory. The Bush foreign-policy team hardly lacks
experience, but its reputation has been tainted -- by infighting, by
bungling in Iraq and by the rows with Europe. For better or worse, many
conservatives may conclude that Kerry, who has accepted most of the main
tenets of Bush's policy of preemption, stands a better chance than Bush
of increasing international involvement in Iraq, of winning support for
Washington's general war on terror and even of forcing reform at the
United Nations. After all, could Jacques, Gerhard and the rest of those
limp-wristed continentals say no to a man who speaks fluent French and
The third reason for the right to celebrate a Bush loss comes in one
simple word: gridlock. Gridlock is a godsend to some conservatives --
it's a proven way to stop government spending. A Kerry administration is
much more likely to be gridlocked than a second Bush administration
because the Republicans look sure to hang on to the House and have a
better-than-even chance of keeping control of the Senate.
The fourth reason has to do with regeneration. Some conservatives think
the Republican Party -- and the wider conservative movement -- needs to
rediscover its identity. Is it a "small government" party, or does "big
government conservatism" make sense? Is it the party of big business or
of free markets? Under Bush, Western antigovernment conservatives have
generally lost ground to Southern social conservatives, and pragmatic
internationalists have been outmaneuvered by neoconservative idealists.
A period of bloodletting might help, returning a stronger party to the fray.
And that is the fifth reason why a few conservatives might welcome a
November Bush-bashing: the certain belief that they will be back, better
than ever, in 2008. The conservative movement has an impressive record
of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Ford's demise indeed
helped to power the Reagan landslide; "Poppy" Bush's defeat set up the
Gingrich revolution. In four years, many conservatives believe,
President Kerry could limp to destruction at the hands of somebody like
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.
When the British electorate buried President Bush's hero, Winston
Churchill, and his Conservative Party, Lady Churchill stoically
suggested the "blessing in disguise" idea to her husband. He replied
that the disguise seemed pretty effective. Yet the next few years
vindicated Lady Churchill's judgment. The Labor Party, working with
Harry Truman, put into practice the anti-Communist containment policies
that Churchill had championed. So in 1951, the Conservative Party could
return to office with an important piece of its agenda already in place
and in a far fitter state than it had been six years earlier. It held
office for the next 13 years.
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