Its always difficult to admit to a shift in one's personal opinion.
That's why I'm not admitting to a shift in opinion.
A perspective shift is what I'll cop to, starting with the immigration furor over a year ago.
(I strongly suspect William Randolph Hearst of having stirred the whole thing up. Else explain the weary resignation of America to a porous border suddenly giving way to the out-of-the-blue frantic desperation. I shall state again that I am not opposed to fixing the problem. But I still think the sudden uproar is curious.)
All at once, I seemed to belong to, not so much a party, but an ideology, namely conservatism, that defined itself by one issue.
A reinforced border is a worthy goal, and the motivation for stopping the flow was largely well-intentioned, I think, but the din grew into a clamor such that a reasonable proposal offered by the president was labeled "amnesty."
To refresh your memory, the said proposal involved a fine leveled at illegals in the neighborhood of 6,000 dollars, retroactive collection of taxes, deportment for nine to fourteen years, a clean record for those nine to fourteen, successful background clearance, and a proficiency in English.
Then, and only then, could you attain legal citizenship.
If that's amnesty, then perhaps they've changed the meaning of the word and not told anyone.
But I digress.
Conservatives let their voice be heard. It was deafening.
I have not heard such a consensus on any other issue.
And that is precisely what began to nag at me.
I was willing to let it slide. Hey, what's a little jingoism among friends?
But the upcoming primary began to reveal another flaw in the conservative movement.
People calling themselves conservative supported Rudy Guliani for president and saw no incoherence in their own ideology.
Then as Guliani began his slide into history, following an ill-fated "don't sweat the small states" strategy, conservative punditry began to champion two other suspect candidates.
After the last three or four blogs, you may be thinking that I'm a little sore on the subject of talk radio.
Have patience. Maybe you never took these guys too seriously in the first place.
I think I took them more seriously than I should have.
I assumed they were coming from, and going in, the same direction I was headed.
Now whether the consensus of conservative punditry is the cause or the effect of the opinions of the majority of conservative voters out there, (I suspect the former) the fact is they were singing the song of a whole lot of people.
Aside from their exaggerration on McCain and Huckabee (Huckabee is a fire-breathing tax-raiser from Arkansas, thus a liberal, and McCain is no better, in some cases worse, than Hillary Clinton, in the opinion of a certain female columist who is long on shock value and short on substance) their praise of Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson was misleading.
Whether disingenuous or ignorant (I again suspect the former) the shut-out of all discussion about Mitt Romney's high-speed rotation on social issues and Fred Thompson's curt dismissal of past abortion lobbying was maddening.
They were true Reagan conservatives from way back. The seeds of Romney's stalwart Reaganism began to sprout as far back as 2004. Thompson appeared to be able to turn his off and on. But they were conservative by virtue of their position on immigration and big government. No mention of the social concerns that stem from the moral base that conservatism, I thought, was built upon.
Mike Huckabee, despite his numerous flaws, is a committed social conservative.
In the interest of clarity, could not the pundits have noted this, then pointed out his fiscal flaws and foreign policy hubris and let us make up our own minds?
Apparently not. He was a liberal. Because they said so.
Ronald Reagan combined morality with a strong distrust of big goverment and faith in capitalism and America. As far as I know, he never diminished social conservatism with an exclusionary emphasis on the other two legs of the stool.
In that sense, I guess Newt Gingrich was right.
The Reagan era really is over.
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