Originally Posted by operative
The cases of actual racism that I've seen (eg Council of Conservative Citizens) aren't exactly what I would call established voices in mainstream conservatism. I've seen far too much of the "x" is codeword for racism. So if you call Obama a socialist, you're a racist. Or if you oppose his various plans, it's actually because you're racist.
Slogans in general are dramatic oversimplifications, whether "it's the economy, stupid" or "government is the problem." I'd caution against grouping Republicans into one category here--we have plenty of big-spending, pork rolling House members and Senators, such as Dick Shelby and Jim Imhoffe. Any time they parrot that line, it's pretty fraudulent. But the slogan can also be representative of a broader, deeper commitment to a limited model of government, one upheld by people such as Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake. And it's a simple way of expressing that often the answer is less government, not more (the latest would be considering whether the FCC should simply be abolished).
A big problem in both parties is the commitment of some Senators and House members to a form of state capitalism, where the government assists certain chosen industries and companies.
On racism: it's something that is just so hard to prove. We know that unconscious racism exists. We know that people who exhibit it are usually unaware of it and will always deny it. So you can have liberals making wild claims with little to go on but grand sort of psycho-conspiratorial theories of mind. Are they correct? It's almost impossible to tell. I generally think of it as a kind of background noise - I know it's partially driving a lot of anger at Obama from many conservatives, but these are people who still have very principled disagreements. Or at least they're listening to people who do.
But that's not a huge worry of mine. I completely respect the principle of limited government. And I think as a defining issue, there is no reason conservatives shouldn't be constantly emphasizing it. But again, my whole problem is the way in which so much of the "movement" has been about demonizing government in general, and specifically for things where it isn't government that is the problem per say, but an existential disagreement over the actual service being rendered.
So for example, as a good liberal I'm opposed to large portions of military spending. But I don't say it's a problem of "government" - it's just a service I think is a waste of money. Now, it's true on average I'm going to be supportive of a lot more government spending because there is a longer list of things I think ought to be done that wouldn't be otherwise. But that doesn't mean I support any and every wasteful program - "bridges to nowhere", etc.
I feel like conservatives and liberals are really actually pretty similar in that we both want a mixed market: smart government, smart regulations and a healthy business environment. We simply differ on the details. We both want police, schools, libraries, roads, parks, national defense, safety and environmental regulations, social security and medicare. Yet so much of the time conservatism frames the conversation as if liberals just want to waste our money on all these things ("spend your
tax dollars") and that conservatives are defenders against a big, scary government. When in reality most conservatives actually like government just as much, they just want it in different, generally smaller amounts.
Like I mentioned before, this politics is extremely divisive, even cancerous. Liberals are not the "party of government" and conservatives the "party of business". And neither of those things are necessarily good or bad. Liberals I think finally gave up on the idea that "business is evil" because historical events just proved that to be a retarded idea. My worry is that conservatives have not yet learned this lesson - or at least they have forgotten how bad things were 100 years ago when when the modern age began to run into what true "limited government" actually looked like.
Final note on "pay to play": I completely agree. This is a truly horrible problem. Hopefully in moving past the divisive politics we can all come together to solve this problem. My feeling is that conservatives think that by simply cutting government they'll remove what it is that is being captured. But I think this is incredibly facile and kind of utopian. The reality is that we all want the government to do a lot of important things and so there will always be plenty for special interest groups to capture. (I think we can both agree there is enormous waste and essentially corruption in the defense industry). I think the reality is that this just turns into a sort of lobbying arms race that creates more and more corruption and weakens democracy.
Unfortunately, it seems we have no good consensus on effective solutions. My feeling is that restrictions on money in Washington (and everywhere, really) is good because it nips the problem in the bud. Yet when money is equated with speech, we have a really problem. (To me, the practical effect of this is even less
speech, as now the few with lots of money can drown out the many without). There's also just the problem of interests being very sneaky and finding ways around restrictions. In the end, I'd favor less "freedom" and more restrictions, than the current situation which just seems incredibly corrupt.