It’s not a coincidence that conservatives are far, far better at marching in lock step than liberals or progressives – or even independents. Across cultures, conservatism produces better goose-steppers than progressivism ever could even on progressivism’s very “best day”. It all comes down to the Playbook. Conservatives have one while progressives and independents don’t. That’s not to say that independents and progressives don’t have some sort of “how-to-do-it playbook” in their heads – they do! But progressives and independents all march to their own individual drummers, not some “alpha dog” drummer like Donald Trump or Vlad Putin. That’s why Democrats always seem “disorganized” to our news media. To this day, Democrats are still exactly the way we were when Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. He first said that in the 1930’s. He might as well have said it this morning.
That, ya see, is what actual freedom looks like. It’s all over the place because Americans are all so culturally diverse. It makes democracy damned messy. People marching in lock step however never appear “messy”.
People marching in lockstep – as conservatives do – never appear very “democratic” either. Another non-coincidence. Conservatism relies above all on everyone pulling toward a common goal. In America, conservatism’s common goal is best summed up by “originalism” – the sum total of Justice Antonin Scalia’s legal philosophy: whatever the founders wrote – colored as it might have been by genuine ignorance, stone cold racism, profound bigotry, deep-seated misogyny and Christian cynicism – that’s all America can ever be. In conservatism’s defense, they pretty much tell us up front what they’re goal: to conserve.
The question is always “what”. WHAT do conservatives want to conserve? It can’t be the future – the thing progressives want to progress toward – as it hasn’t happened yet. In fact, the future (filled as it is with uncertainty and change) is anathema to conservatives. That’s why conservatives insist on solving new problems with old solutions. To come up with a new solution (to a new problem), the first thing you’d have to do is correctly analyze what the problem is. Analysis is for progressives! Conservatives don’t need to analyze anything because their response will be the same regardless. They’re all hammers in perpetual search of nails to pound.
Republican cynicism and intense Christian religiosity know each other intimately. While not being strictly monotheistic (father, son and “holy ghost”? Is that three distinct gods or one god with schizophrenia?), Christianity took monotheism and super charged it in ways Judaism never could and never would. Whose voice really is the “voice of God” in their heads? Is it really God’s? Or is this another monotheist who feels special because the creator of the whole universe is tighter with them than with pretty much any other human? Invest this in a legit crypto (if there are any) and prepare to get richer than rich: plenty of uber Christians do not believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. Not the same thing.
That’s why Chapter Two of The Conservative Playbook goes by this title:
Being God means you’re better than everyone else. It means you really understand God (even if you really, really don’t). It means that God’s grand plans for humanity are your grand plans. One simply can’t look out over the rest of humanity – from God’s perch – without looking down on the rest of humanity – from God’s perch. It’s a cynical place to be and so, as the conservative monotheist looks out at everyone else, they see cynicism staring back. Even if all that cynicism is actually their own.
It’s tough work being a deity (apparently) but someone (apparently) has to do it.
America is a great concept poorly executed, The proof? The rich, white, Christian, land-owning men who penned “All men are created equal” did NOT get everything right. They weren’t perfect – not by a long shot. For starters, though they wrote and stood by the words “All men are created equal”, they didn’t get it right because they meant only rich, white, Christian land-owning men LIKE THEM were “created equal”. Everyone else was inferior. FFS, our founders compromised with evil – with slavery. They built wage theft (that’s what slavery is at its bottom line) into the Constitution’s architecture. Not all the founders got it wrong. James Madison (despite his own complicated relationship with slavery) insisted that America’s motto be “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many, one.
Madison got it that diversity was our key strength.
The problem with democracy, Republicans will tell you: it’s too damned unreliable. If Republicans could sell their ideas in the marketplace of democracy, they’d do it. It’s the easiest path. But they don’t. Instead, Republicans have dedicated themselves to hindering democracy every way they can. Why’s that, do ya suppose?
Democracy thrives when more people take part in it. The last thing on earth the GOP wants is for American democracy to thrive or even survive. Toward the end of the “Reagan Revolution”, Republicans glimpsed the handwriting on the wall: America was becoming more diverse more rapidly than anyone had imagined it would. They saw clearly that, before too long, they would no longer be the majority of Americans. Diversity would truly take over. And that would spell doom for the Republican Party and conservatism itself. The Right Wing Money (the Kochs, the Mercers etc) recognized that, of the three branches of government, the only one that would or could give them an opening to hold onto power indefinitely was the judiciary. That’s why the right wing money made Mitch McConnell their point man (point “treason turtle”, really) on denying Barack Obama as many federal judgeships as possible – especially Supreme Court seats.
Denying the majority their will is NOT the way democracy – or even American democracy – is supposed to work.
That’s why the Conservative Playbook concludes with its most honest play – for permanent power forever.