Like many other words in the English language, i.e. Healthy Forests and Clear Skies, the Republicans have turned words upside down in their meaning. And one they've done the most to obliterate any original meaning is what they claim they are -- conservative.
The dictionary applies words like traditional, restrained, moderate and cautious to describe a "conservative" person. The modern conservative movement is exactly the opposite. It's actually utterly reckless, feckless, irresponsible and against traditional American values and character.
And in the political sense of conservatism, they have done nothing to earn that mantle either.
The funny thing is, I can agree in theory with the goals of much of what political conservatism has claimed to be about: personal responsibility, limited (but I would add EFFECTIVE) government, strong (but I would say COST-EFFECTIVE) defense, low taxes (who doesn't want that in a perfect world?).
Not enough to base my entire political philosophy on, but I can see how much of this could and probably should be included in any progressive agenda (read The Next Progressive Era to learn more about that particular subject).
But the modern "conservative" movement has failed politically in meeting any of the stated goals of conservatism:
o "Personal responsibility" was mainly code for poor, minority folks, not for financial kingpins.
o Limited government is great for cutting programs geared to the poor, but not corporate welfare programs for oil barons and military contractors. In fact, the Bush era grew government at a greater rate than at any time since LBJ.
o Strong defense. Ignoring all the warning signs and counsel of the pending largest attack on CIVILIANS in US history says defense FAILURE. An invasion of a sovereign country that had nothing to with the attack and sparking additional terrorist recruits through that invasion, torture, and lack of trials, speaks MASSIVE FAILURE.
o Lower taxes were predominately concentrated on wealthy individuals and corporations, with no plan on paying for things the government is actually spending huge amounts of money on (i.e. Bush's Iraq war).
o Balanced budget. Forget about it. The Bush I and II and Reagan eras were all about running up the debt for future generations to pay. And there's another strike against the vaunted "personal responsibility."
On the purely symantic front of the word "conservative", I don't think what these people actually do holds water either:
o the Environment -- No. 1 issue for me. If you don't think conserving our natural world in an era of rampant population increases then how the hell do you get off calling yourself a conservative? If you ignore every climate scientist, botanist, biologist and every other educated ist who tell us the world's in a world of trouble, then you're a reckless gambler willing to roll the dice on the future of your children and grandchildren. How is that "conservative"?
o The War -- Spending money on a giant federal program that never met it's top priority -- stop weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists, then you are neither a moderate or cautious. You're a reckless idiot. And the amazing fact the many "conservatives" still don't see the war as a massive failure only adds to the lack of true conservatism.
o The Financial Meltdown -- It was the Bush administration that was forced to do the biggest federal bailout of the private sector in US history because of it's "hands off" approach to the market. Never requiring responsibility leaves human nature to look for any self-gain possible, resulting in pure FRAUD in our financial system from top to bottom. And instead of putting people in jail, we're forced to give them money to protect to the global financial system, and they end up giving each other bonuses.
The bottom line is we all know what the modern conservative movement has been about -- a power-grab by the greediest among us using poor minorities as the scapegoat for all the electorate's ills to get elected. Well, that dog don't hunt anymore.