essay by Don Rose
McCain Train Gains, Mitt quits. But the rise of John McCain and descent of Mitt Romney is just one aspect of a larger political shift. The soaring ascendancy of Barack Obama is another part of it. What is "it"? The end of the "conservative revolution" that began circa 1980 with Ronald Reagan, and now ends in 2008 with the man who loves to emulate and be thought of as another Reagan, George W. Bush. A 28-year run -- not bad -- one which saw but one Democratic name in the White House amidst a sea of GOP. Imagine, only Bill Clinton broke the string of Republican Presidents from 1980 to 2008. The reason for this GOP domination: the rise, acceleration and expansion of the Conservative Wave.
Now that wave is crashing down, and riding in on the new wave is John McCain, the man who prides himself on being able to reach across the aisle to (God forbid!) Democrats, who does not mind bucking "conservative wisdom", whatever that is. (A contradiction, perhaps.) Mitt Romney made a whole campaign out of begging GOP "believers" to see the light and seek him out since only he preached the true conservative gospel. But it was in vain versus McCain.
Why? Because, somewhere along the line, GOP voters freed themselves, woke up and wised up. They realized that their party originally became dominated by "Conservatives" when Reagan rode into power on a one Trickle Down pony, yet these same GOP folks ran record deficits, which was never a tenet of true conservatism. Then the party became dominated by Religious Right Conservatives (the Falwell Farewell to GOP moderates), which finally led to a Born Again Religious Right Conservative (Dubya). Yet behind the "conservative" verbage lies a liberal amount of spending (pun possibly intended). Yep, Dubya has full blown Big Spendingitis, now drawing up the first-ever 3 trillion dollar budget, and even higher record deficits.
As the Dubya Decade decayed, Big Spendingitis and Big Religion had fully infected the Conservative "mold", and after almost 3 decades, the term "Conservative" is now downRight moldy. Who ever said being "conservative" was about Big Government (record spending and deficits)? Who ever said being Republican was about Big Religion? The GOP got so lopsided to the Right, it couldn't right itself, and finally fell over. And the main man standing is McCain.
Yes, 6 years and 6 months after 9/11, 28 years after Reagan's rise, the American People are waking up and shaking things up. They realize that today's "conservative", the Neo-Conservative, and other brands of current conservatives are not really the real thing. The current shift in the political current is about allowing the GOP, the Grand Old Party, to have more just the "conservative" brand. To be truly appealing and truly Grand, a Party needs more than one brand. The Grand Old Party was like that before. And it can be again, perhaps with McCain.
In other words, Republicans are starting to realize their party was hijacked, on a flight path that kept banking Right. But now, just maybe, they realize that "GOP" can mean many things. It can be other-than-Conservative. It can be maverick. It can tell the truth. It can take the Constitution out of the garbage can. It can befriend Democrats. It can embrace eco green values. It can go for Finance Reform. It can be Arnold. It can be McCain.
But what term can succinctly sum up this shift? "Anti-Conservative" sounds so negative, but that's getting warm. RepubliCAN sounds too, well, Up-With-People-ish, and frankly, who likes multi-case font. Still, we need a word here. It's about a resurgence of open-minded Republicans who go with what's Right (as in engaging in conversation with other points of view) over what's Right (as in insulated, "I'm always right" Right-of-center conservative). It is about the "free interchange of thoughts or views", with the emphasis on free -- and that, my friends, is the definition of "converse." Hence, I propose we say that McCain is the new leader of the "Conversatiles" - converts to conversation and converse versatile thinking - who are finally replacing the old King of the (Capitol) Hill, the Conservatives.
Heck, the new (or reborn again?) GOP is so free, it can even be a Democratic supporter. Yep, hard as it is to believe, some rightwing talk show hosts and authors are so in an uproar over McCain's Gain, they are even jumping to the other side. Ann Coulter said she would vote for Hillary Clinton over McCain, and Rush Limbaugh pretty much said ditto. And they were serious. Yep, signs are that the GOP party hijacking is ending, and the party's hostages are flaunting their freedom. Feeling free to converse and vote any way they wish. To think freely. To let religion stay out of the fray, and obey that little thing called "separation of Church and State". Some "conversatiles" have even become free enough to express support for a free thinking libertarian like Ron Paul. Some even go so far as to support Barack Obama. I saw it online, and they were serious. Who woulda thunk it.
Heck, it's almost as if common sense, good ideas and intellectual freedom are coming back in vogue, after years of religious and political dogma. God and dogma used to be Good, Right, and required for GOP candidates. Now, the formula has grown stale, and was in vain versus McCain.
One more note as the nation races toward making Presidential history. Only 15 Senators have ever been President, and only two Senators (Warren Harding and John F. Kennedy) were sitting Senators when they won the top job, going directly from Senate seat to Oval Office. Yet in 2008, all three remaining frontrunners for the Presidency are Senators. One will surely win. Showing that another Great Age is ending: the Age of Governors. Twas exactly 40 years ago that the last (ex-)Senator won the White House: then-Vice President Richard Nixon. And guess what: he was a Republican, and he was NOT a Conservative (which of course every student knows thanks to his nickname, Moderate Dick).
So then: who will win the Presidency this time around, in November 2008? Another Clinton? Obama? McCain? No matter what name gets the Prez prize, the American people are the clear winners.
February 8, 2008
essay by Don Rose