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A few days ago, Dbug wrote a diary titled "The Three Flavors of Republicans," which divided today's Republican Party into three factions: fiscal conservatives (of which libertarians are a subset), religious conservatives, and neoconservatives. I felt this was too simplistic, and Dbug asked me to write a diary on my take. Well, here it is.

I see there being not so much three groups as three scales. The first is traditionalist vs. libertarian; the second is paleoconservative vs. neoconservative; and the third is moderate vs. ideological. I will describe the three scales, and explain how they work, after the jump.

1) traditionalist vs. libertarian

Most conservatives follow elements of both these philosophies, but most prefer one over the other. It all depends on which they value more: tradition or liberty.

By far the most well-known traditionalists are religious conservatives, but not all traditionalists are religious. For example, here is a profile of George Will, an agnostic, in Patrick Allitt's book The Conservatives:

[Will] dismissed [libertarianism] as "decayed Jeffersonianism characterized by a frivolous hostility to the state." He believed that the role of government was to promote virtue in citizens and to nurture a sense of civic community. Citizens should certainly enjoy as much freedom as possible, but government did have claims on them.... Among other things it led Will to argue against upholding gay rights.... On the other hand, it caused him to favor seat-belt laws and federal imposition of improved gas-mileage requirements on Detroit automakers, because government must not consider citizens simply as consumers with the right to decide such things for themselves.

Certain secular principles that conservatives preach (if not always practice) are rooted in traditionalism, such as judicial restraint, constitutional originalism, and federalism. It goes back to the old meaning of "conservative" before it became entangled with capitalism: the desire to conserve, to resist radical change, to keep society bound by its existing rules and institutions, to uphold its customs and traditions. Many libertarians are in fact radicals, and hence not very conservative in a traditional sense, but many others incorporate elements of traditionalism into their worldview.

2) paleoconservative vs. neoconservative

The original neocons were those who became disillusioned with liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s due to the perceived failures of LBJ's Great Society and the left's supposed weak response to Communism. Nowadays the term has come to suggest those who wish to impose their will on other countries, even ones that don't constitute an immediate threat to U.S. interests, for the sake of spreading democracy and human rights. It's almost a hybrid of Wilsonian idealism and the right's Cold War militarism.

For present purposes I'm ignoring all neoconservative views on markets and the welfare state, which blend with factions from the other two scales. I do, however, include in the neocon definition those who advocate curtailing civil liberties for the sake of national security.

Back in the Soviet era neocons and paleocons were hard to tell apart, since both groups generally favored a tough response to Communism. Pat Buchanan's famous dissent from the Gulf War, America's first foreign policy adventure after the collapse of the Soviet Union, signified the paleo/neo split. Buchanan embraced the isolationism of the Old Right, which led him to attack not only both Iraq Wars, but also free trade. On cultural issues such as abortion, gays, and school prayer, Buchanan fits right in with the Falwell-Robertson crowd of Christian conservatives, but on foreign policy he couldn't be more different. Ron Paul has paleocon traits as well; while he supports free trade, his views on foreign policy and immigration are similar to Buchanan's.

3) moderate vs. ideological

Almost by definition, moderates are hard to define. Adding to the difficulty is that one person's moderate is another person's extremist. There are few Republican moderates today in the Nelson Rockefeller mold, and most of those who bear the label at least pay lip service to a conservative philosophy.

Moderates are essentially non-ideological, and will adopt positions from both parties, often favoring a middle ground on individual issues. Prominent moderates include Colin Powell and Arlen Specter, who may not have much in common with each other but have both attempted to forge a vibrant Republican center. In the past year, Powell endorsed a Democrat for president and Specter left the GOP altogether. But this wing of the party, while weakened, is not dead. Not yet, anyway.


I've conceived this system as sort of like the Myers-Briggs personality test, where each scale functions independently of the others. If you're a "traditionalist," for example, you may come out as either a neocon or paleocon, either a moderate or ideological. I might even assign each conservative a letter combination, so that, say, an LPM would be a "libertarian paleocon moderate." This flexibility allows us to recognize that a person's guiding philosophy may vary depending on the issue, even though some combinations are more common than others.

Final thought: how I'd class various conservatives

Here are just a few examples. You can continue with other conservatives if you like, or quarrel with my classifications of these individuals, but I just want to illustrate how my system works. And note that these letters don't take into account the degree each person falls on each scale. For example, Ron Paul would not come out as strongly libertarian as, say, Ayn Rand. With these precautions in mind, here is my (short) list:

David Brooks: TNM
George W. Bush: TNI
Tucker Carlson: LPI
Pat Buchanan: TPI
William F. Buckley: TPI
Dennis Prager: TNI
Arnold Schwarzenegger: LNM
George Will: TPI
Alan Keyes: TNI
Ron Paul: LPI

Originally posted to Kylopod on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:25 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    "A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead." -- Leo Rosten; My blog

    by Kylopod on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:25:24 AM PDT

  •  Hmm. Does Paleo v. Neo include (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Snud, camlbacker

    free trade v. protectionist or is that a separate duality?

    Songs up at da web site! Also. . . It's Kostown, Jake. . .

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:29:02 AM PDT

  •  It's always interesting to read what (0+ / 0-)

    an outsider thinks of another group.  It's like a white person explaining to other white people what the African American population is really about.  

    Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment and OK for you.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:40:07 AM PDT

  •  I'm surprised (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    camlbacker, maximum

    You don't consider religious fundamental conservatism factoring more strongly in its own right. I appreciate the "moderate versus ideological" but, at least in the south, there are plenty of people who consider themselves Republicans mostly because of one issue: Abortion. I would perhaps classify them as "Falwellian" Republicans.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:42:28 AM PDT

    •  I know people don't like to hear baby boomer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Snud, 20shadesofviolet

      thoughts, but back before the politicization of fundamentalists around social conservatism, fundamentalists arrived at Goldwater-style conservatism and became emeshed in right-wing world views primarily though anti-communism.  It was only when communism declined as a motivating (aka "fundraising") factor that we saw a growing emphasis on social issues such as gay rights and abortion.

      "Forget the past. Ignore the present. Pretend to believe in the future." -- The Perfect Son

      by maximum on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 08:59:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm willing to accept (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that there are traditionalist moderates. I included David Brooks in that category, though he is not anti-abortion, or a Christian. I know there are socially conservative Democrats out there.

  •  Oh ... (0+ / 0-)

    I was thinking evidence had been found that Republicans are actually reptiles. Or fish.

    "Honest people of good will can only promote things which will not be overtly opposed to this system, because the system is very strong." -- Israel Shahak

    by ProbStat on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 09:03:42 AM PDT

  •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Great diary.  I would like to see your take on the various "brands" of democrats, you know blue dogs, yellow dogs, and especially "socialists" like me. Thats what the republicans call anyone who is for spending money on healthcare, education, highways, etc. instead of massive defense projects, wars and weapon systems that will never be used).

    •  The Democrats haven't become as fractured (0+ / 0-)

      We've always had the Will Rogers quality, but we're more or less united, at least compared to Republicans today.

      I do think there are scales on the left, however. One of the major ones is liberty vs. equality, which may in fact be one of the central philosophical dilemmas of the entire left.

  •  How about a neopolitan ice cream approach (0+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that to be a conservative you have to be anti-science on at least one of the following:

    1. Global warming
    1. Evolution
    1. Age of the earth

    To some, you're better if you are anti-science on all 3.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 09:54:04 AM PDT

    •  But that simply isn't true (0+ / 0-)

      There are many conservatives who fully accept global warming and evolution.

      •  I'll concede that it isn't true (0+ / 0-)

        in every case. Still, it's predominant. So many of them show an anti-science disposition on at least one of those issues. And for some, I'll add the dangers of 2nd-hand smoke.

        liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

        by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 12:37:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Global warming denial does seem widespread (0+ / 0-)

          And it's almost become a "heresy" on the right to affirm it (which is ironic, considering that they think the same about us). But creationism is much, much less common, restricted to the religious right, which is powerful among Republicans but hardly ubiquitous. I don't think any of the mainstream Republican pundits (except maybe Ben Stein) disbelieve in evolution.

  •  Passively evil, actively evil, and supervillain (0+ / 0-)

    The passively evil are the conservatives who support the movement with their donations, votes, and big mouths, but lack the means to act meaningfully on their beliefs. They're terrible parents, terrible workers, and unpleasant neighbors (or would be if they didn't live surrounded by like-minded people). They hijack every conversation and the collective dialogue to their conservative talking points, and when no-one listens, the very worst they're capable of is petty acts of violence born of impotence. Fortunately, however, their malignancy is confined to their own lives and immediate surroundings.

    The actively evil are the conservatives who are in positions of power - be it political, economic, or social/religious - and thus have the ability to act meaningfully upon their beliefs, especially to the extent of persuading or forcing others to submit to them. Republican politicians and bureaucrats, conservative think-tankers and media figures, Religious Right leaders, CEOs and Boards of Directors, etc. The actively evil come in multiple sizes based on the scale of their influence.

    The supervillains are the conservatives who are the movement's primary sources of funding and ideas: Sun Myung Moon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Coors, the Bush Family, etc. Conservatism is what they say it is - even when it isn't - and everyone else either is or is not a conservative based on their say so. They're also the primary beneficiaries of conservative policy, in that they're the richest and most powerful people already, and conservatism's goal is to further concentrate wealth and power in their hands.

    Our goal must be to eliminate all suffering from the world.

    by Visceral on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 10:10:06 AM PDT

  •  I'm 31 and have met Republicans my whole life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I generally put them in these categories. At the outset these categories do include generalizations, but these are the types of attitudes and personalities that I've generally encountered among Republicans that I've met.

    Category 1 generally tends to exist in affluent suburbs and major big cities. They can range from very wealthy businessmen/women to middle class family earners. They are likely to at least be college educated or even have advanced degrees. They're likely to have traveled overseas and been exposed to the world.

    They are Republicans because they believe that the Democrats offer them nothing but higher taxes for social programs like welfare that enable and encourage dependency. They believe that the Democrat want to take their hard-earned money via taxes to support people who, in their minds, don't want to improve themselves. They see the Democrats as offering little more than giveaway programs to support those who don't want to help themselves and be responsible for their own lives. They associate the Democrats with massively ineffective social programs and other government agencies that create more problems than solutions. While they may very well be liberal on most social issues, what keeps them squarely in the GOP camp is their hostility toward social programs and higher taxes.

    The ones who are really rich may view the Democrats as inherently being the party of the "lower classes". These are the types of Republicans who have money, send their children to private schools, and don't interact with those in lower economic classes. Some of them may very well live in gated communities. They see themselves as in a higher class and vote Republicans because that is "what people in their class do".

    Category 2 generally exists out in places like the military, law enforcement, first responder, and other fields related to protecting our country. This category of Republican, while possibly liberal on other issues, thinks that the Democrats are the party of the dirty hippies and left-wing extremists like Michael Moore who hate the military and don't understand national security. This category of Republican thinks that the Democrats want to destroy the military, dismantle the nation's intelligence community, and basically leave our country defenseless. This, of course, in spite of the fact that many elected Democrats have served and many prominent Republicans used every opportunity to avoid military service altogether. They have no problem supporting Republicans who never served, while attacking Democrats who have.  They also think that the Democrats don't respect those serving in the military or our country's veterans. They think that the Democrats tend to "blame America first", support Marxist dictators, and view Islamic terrorists as victims rather than aggressors. They think that Democrats want to act like Neville Chamberlain and leave this country at risk.

    They also think that the Democrats are too willing to make excuses for violent criminals. They think that the Democrats are either unwilling or unable to deal with violent crime effectively. They think that the Democrats all hate police officers and that Democrats think that all cops are racists who purposely harass minority suspects, all of whom are "victims of a racist society". They think that the Democrats view police officers as horrible people and that the criminals are all victims who would not resort to crime if they received more welfare. They think that the Democratic Party cares more about the civil rights of criminals and terrorists than the victims that they hurt.

    Category 3 is the religious fundamentalist voter. Category 3 Republicans probably do not correlate well with those in Category 1 and there may be some overlap with Category 2. In fact many Republicans in Category 1 may very well openly mock those in this category. These Republicans are more likely to be those who are part of groups like the Christian Coalition. They tend to be the types who want to eliminate all secular aspects of government. They think that all Democrats are horrible secularists who want to "take God out out of society". They think that all Democrats are militant athiests and want to mock Christians openly. A lot of them may be the descendants of Democrats who left the Party in the late 1960s after the passage of civil rights laws, though they don't all necessarily overlap with the Dixiecrats. Republicans from this category tend to be hostile to gays as well. These are the ones most likely to lead the charge against any form of civil rights legislation toward gays up to and including gay marriage. They are also the ones most likely to be pushing for gay marriage bans.

    Category 4 technically is very similar to those Republicans in Category 1. However, these are the more libertarian than those in Category 1. While those in Category 1 may gladly support Wall Street bailouts and some limited form of government, these Republicans are the most libertarian. This is where I would put Ron Paul. They want no government whatsoever and have no problems with drug legalization. This group of Republicans is quite small but more likely to believe in the paranoia about the UN and other organizations like the Federal Reserve. They want to scale back government down to where it is where it was back in the time of the Revolutionary War. They also have very little in common with those in Category 2 and want to keep a secular government.

    The four categories above are the types of Republicans that I've met in my life. Now I'm not saying that every Republican thinks like this, but these are the generally the reasons that many of them have told me why they support the GOP.

    •  You may be right (0+ / 0-)

      but personally I've noticed a lot more overlap between the categories you mention, making them less identifiable. There certainly are demographic trends among Republicans, though the anti-Democrat propaganda you mention is spread about as widely as it can travel across the airwaves.

      Your comment is lengthy enough to deserve its own diary.

      •  Well (0+ / 0-)

        Of course there is overlap. In my experience I've seen lots of overlap between categories 1 and 4. I've seen some between 2 and 3. But generally these are the reasons why most of the Republicans I've known in my life support the GOP. This isn't to say that every Republican thinks like that, but those are the common themes that I see.

        I'll also add one other addendum to those in category 2. They perceive any investigation into torture, the CIA, or any other parts of the military/intelligence community as a personal attack against those who are serving and their mission. They think that liberals don't appreciate the sacrifices that they make for this country.

        But, as I said, what I wrote in the previous message are the justifications that I've heard from Republicans that I know for supporting the GOP.

        •  The Republicans you know seem to whine a lot (0+ / 0-)

          They think Dems either don't understand them or hate a basic institution of American life (the army, the church, the family, etc.). I don't think that type of attitude is strongly reciprocated among Democrats. Many of us often think of Republicans as being at least partly comprised of people who are bigoted or ignorant or backwards or corrupt, but relatively few of us consider such characterizations of our opponents central to our own political identity.

          •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

            But I have to say that there are some on the left--at least a small minority who do post here--who are hostile to some of the institutions that you just mentioned. The problem is that Republicans then project that minority onto the whole population. They think that ALL Democrats feel the same way. In many conversations with Republicans they've automatically assumed that I support the most liberal ideas on every issues. There doesn't seem to be an ability to realize that not every Democrat supports the most radical left position on every issue.

            There is one theme that I have seen in many Republicans, though, that I've known; and that is a sense of either self-persecution or self-victimization. They honestly believe that there are institutions out to "get them" and "their way of life"--be it the government, media, academia, or Hollywood. They feel like "everyone is against them"--traits that they ironically project onto liberals.

            •  Isn't Kos himself, like, a Marine? (0+ / 0-)

              I remember reading that. As for Dems being "anti-family," I've never understood that at all. What does it mean to be anti-family? Hardly anyone is living on a commune or promoting such a lifestyle. I suppose there are occasional liberals who don't believe in having kids (due to overpopulation). Beyond that, all liberals have done is to be merely tolerant of alternative arrangements, whether single-parent households or gay couples. Also, "anti-family" seems to be a code word for supporting, or at least not actively denouncing, show-biz products (e.g. rap music) they feel are harmful to children.

              Hostility toward religion is probably more common on the left than the right (though in my experience many libertarians are anti-religious), but what religious conservatives interpret as hostility is often simply a desire for church-state separation. Religious liberals are generally very peeved that the right hijacks religion and acts as though anyone who disagrees with them on particular issues (abortions, gays, the death penalty, and so on) can't be religious.

              •  Some on the religious right (0+ / 0-)

                don't just act like leftists can't be Christians, they say so openly.

                liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

                by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 03:33:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  On that conservative rap (0+ / 0-)

                  One of the lines I remember was (I'm probably paraphrasing), "You can't call yourself Christian if you support abortion." In a way, I kind of understand that position (even though I disagree with it), but for other issues (gays, capital punishment, and so on) it makes no sense.

    •  I've no doubt you know this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but it's important to emphasize that these 4 categories you describe are anything other than mutually exclusive.

      Not all who are in Category 1 are well-to-do. There are plenty of middle class folks who believe what Republican politicians tell them about taxes and the social safety net. My cousins are a couple of them.

      They are by no means wealthy. But when they talk about these issues, it's always "I provide for my family, I shouldn't also have to provide for someone who will not get off his lazy ass and work" - as if all of those who are on public assistance are like that. One of them also said that the stimulus package should have stipulated that any American who received any government assistance the last several years should be ineligible for stimulus assistance.

      They are also hardcore Category 2 and 3, and maybe a small portion of Category 4 (definitely not for drug legalization).

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 03:40:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are saying what I've been trying to say (0+ / 0-)

        I've known poor families on welfare who listen to talk radio and believe the garbage about welfare queens. They just think they are an exception. It's so sad and pathetic I lack the will to make fun of it.

        •  Just to be clear (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          those who I refer to are not on welfare. One of them describes himself as a "government services refusing conservative". He works 3 jobs (firefighter, pool cleaner and window washer).

          Not putting words in your mouth. Just being unmistakable.

          I used to be a Republican with at least some of all 4 categories you describe.

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 04:17:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fine, I wasn't really implying it (0+ / 0-)

            I was just trying to make the point that propaganda travels far and wide and results in people holding political beliefs that may be against their interests in no small ways.

            •  You're telling me (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Reminds me of my younger days. I only became a liberal about a year ago. It was a slow transformation (read my to-date lone diary entry).

              I'm starting to think that some of the positions I held were more or less out of a perception of my "duties" as a Christian (which I am no longer) and conservative.

              When you say 'holding political beliefs that may be against their interests in no small ways' that would sail right over the heads of most of the Republican base. However, I have heard a couple of people actually say openly that a voter's own interests is the last thing that should concern him.

              I saw Pastor Charles Stanley say in the summer of '96 that when you vote, you are 'not to vote your pocketbook', which means, your vote is to 'honor God', which means, vote for candidates who take positions that appeal to the Religious Right.

              Haven't also some on the right state that poverty is less scary than prosperity and the 'erosion of spiritual values that come with it'?

              IOW, it's in our best interest to vote against our interests.

              liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

              by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 05:21:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have no problem at all (0+ / 0-)

                with people who vote for the benefit of society, not just themselves. In fact, it's honorable. What I was talking about was voters who don't realize they're being screwed by the very people who have influenced their political views. Voters who live off the government while disparaging others who do, hypocritically considering themselves to be an exception ("We deserve these services, but they don't"--and frequently "they" are minorities).

          •  But what those conservatives often fail to (0+ / 0-)

            realize is that often takes just one--and it only needs to be one--sudden tragedy to put them into the system. It could be prolonged job loss or sudden and permanent disability.

            •  As I mentioned (0+ / 0-)

              when I was a conservative, I put up my bluster about 'never accepting government handouts'. Being on the business end of the ugly side of a corporation and facing the prospect of going without an income not just for myself, but for my wife, changed that quickly.

              Private charity is nice, but it will never do enough. YMCAs, YWCAs, rescue missions, etc. are good for those at the end of their rope. What many conservatives fail to see is that the government social safety net is designed to keep people from reaching that point.

              liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

              by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 07:58:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Notice that I said that Category 1 (0+ / 0-)

        can also include middle class family earners. I didn't say that everyone in category #1 was rich. Many middle class family earners are in that category.

  •  Excellent diary! (with meta) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What I really appreciate is having someone (by which I mean you) talk about Republicans as if they are human beings with a brain. Too often, people on Dkos use the words "insane" or "stupid" to dismiss all Republicans.  I have a lot of respect for the intelligence of people like George Will or William Buckley. The first George Bush (HW, not W) had a brain, too. I can disagree with them on most issues, but I can still debate them on the issues without resorting to ad hominem attacks like "You must be insane!"

    So my post was an attempt to start a debate about how to define Republicans. Also I was tired of diaries like "BREAKING: Michael Jackson was using drugs!" or "BREAKING: Video shows Rush Limbaugh said something stupid!" or "Call Your Congressman to tell him to vote no on the amendment to extend the moratorium on oil drilling tax breaks for health care lobbyists!"

    OK. Your diary and your categories. If we have three different binary scales, that means there are eight (two to the third power) categories: TPM TPI TNM TNI LPM LPI LNM LNI. That's a good start.

    And if you think about, say, Roe v. Wade, there are any number of different arguments a Republican could make against abortion:

    -- Killing people is wrong and a fertilized egg is a person. Abortionists are murderers and we should kill people who kill people. TNI
    -- The Constitution says nothing about abortion or a right to privacy. I'm against judicial activism. LPM
    -- The authors of the Constitution were Christians and therefore the Supreme Court should be Christian and forbid all abortions. I'm in favor of judicial activism. TPI
    -- States' rights! Let the states decide if abortion is legal or not. Different states will have different laws, but the Supreme Court should shut up because it's not a federal thing. LPM
    -- Abortion is wrong because I have a 16-year-old girl and I'm very protective of her and I tell her not to have sex, but if she does, I don't want her to have an abortion because then she'll learn her lesson, the little slut. TPI

    Before anyone starts flaming about this issue, I'm pro-choice and I like the Roe v. Wade decision. I'm just thinking of different ways someone could argue against abortion.

    Likewise, there are several different ways Republicans could argue for lower taxes. The greedy argument ("let me keep my money") is entirely different from the capitalist ("government is inefficient") argument.


    But here's another thing I've been thinking about. Forget about issues and think about the people. There are three different types of people who are Republicans. Let's call them:

    -- Republican philosophers (meaning mostly the columnists or retired politicians, who don't have to worry about being elected, who communicate through mass media: newspapers or TV or maybe the internet or think tanks)

    -- Republican politicians (office-holders who have to get re-elected regularly and need money from lobbyists and also need votes from voters and communicate through various media with clever slogans or sound bites)

    -- Republican voters (the common people who have a job and vote Republican for various reasons, maybe a single issue like abortion or taxes or maybe not, and if they communicate at all, it's at the water cooler at work or through weird viral emails about Obama's birth certificate or posts on Free Republic or maybe even attending a tea party)

    The politicians pander to the voters at election time, but pander to the lobbyists when they vote on legislation. Some politicians are ethical and stand by their beliefs, but some aren't. The columnists can believe whatever they want and they can push the politicians (or voters) to agree with them. The voters are often fickle and a good advertising campaign can convince them to switch sides (or not).

    This has become a long message. I could say a lot more, but I won't. Thanks for reading it all. And I'd like to hear your response.

    Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

    by Dbug on Sun Jul 12, 2009 at 09:49:45 PM PDT

    •  Daily Kos will always be Daily Kos (0+ / 0-)

      People come here to vent. That's the nature of a site created by liberals during an era of Republican domination.

      I agree about the elder Bush having brains. A lot of liberals like to forget that, partly because he had some of the same verbal dyslexia as his son, and his mannerisms suggested a certain absent quality, as if he was bored or impatient (we all remember the notorious moment when he glanced at his wristwatch during one of the debates). But he was light years ahead of his son in accomplishments. He had one of the fullest resumes of any twentieth-century president, and his decision not to pursue Saddam, much criticized at the time, has now come to seem wise and prescient.

      I am in the minority here in not thinking either George W. Bush or Sarah Palin is actually stupid. I think they both deliberately play to the lowest common denominator. Their folksy anti-intellectualism represents the end result of something that's been going on in conservative circles for decades. It started with attacks on elitism before it degenerated into attacks on anyone who reads a book (that was Bush's innovation) right on down to anyone who reads a newspaper (Palin). I don't know what's next. Attack people who read shopping lists, maybe.

      The distinction you make between philosophers, politicians, and voters applies to the left just as much as it does to the right. And it's an age-old dichotomy. Thomas Jefferson went ahead with the Louisiana Purchase even though he believed it was unconstitutional; he was so bothered by what he did, apparently, that he had his entire presidency go unmentioned on his tombstone. People like George Will have the luxury of never having been elected to anything, which allows them an ideological purity no politician can enjoy. I always wonder what would happen if Alan Keyes actually did win an election; one of his central traits is that he shows not the slightest understanding of the kinds of compromises all elected officials must make. Absolutism may work in campaigns, but it's no way to govern. And that's one of the reasons people are so cynical about politicians, who are invariably forced to make promises they have no intention of keeping.

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