While I’ve been very clear about my dislike of ideology as a concept at all for it’s multitude of flaws (and will be the subject of an upcoming post), to completely deny it’s importance and (especially) relevance requires a pretty damn high level of stupid. I use a multitude of terms to describe my views, but I suppose simply using “center-right” would suffice in general.
I bring this up because regardless of what label is applied, those who represent this political philosophy have been the biggest losers of the past two decades, to an almost embarrassing degree. This applies both domestically (United States) and worldwide. The center-right has suffered continual electoral losses and failed to message to an almost laughable degree. Those of you who generally subscribe to a center-right ideological positioning are all too familiar with this slide into near-obscurity. In America, the self-sabotage that plagued the adherents of these belief who were in power began in the `90s and has not abated since.
There is no sugarcoating it: center-right electeds grew to be lazy, complacent, and the worst kind of mushy-mouth centrist, almost to a stereotypical degree. No infrastructure was ever built to sustain a concerted movement outside of general party efforts. Center-right representatives increasingly ignored the wishes of their constituents – especially right-leaning ones – and abandoned their principles easily and frequently. They would preach about fiscal responsibility while simultaneously increasing the deficit to record numbers. They failed to curb big government and were in fact among the most complacent of anyone in this period! They, for all intents and purposes, shit the bed and were content to continue laying in it.
The Tea Party movement was a direct response to conservative disgust at the spinelessness of Republicans who had essentially “sold out” to the status quo. In retrospect, it is not a surprise this occurred. The failures and hypocrisy of center-right Republicans gave birth to the movement that began to eat them alive. And the failures to build any sort of infrastructure in the preceding decades came to bite them in the ass, as when the Tea Party began radicalizing to an unpalatable degree, there was no concerted effort to challenge the insurgents, leaving most electeds to their own devices.
I won’t get into the 2016 primary yet as that deserves a through article of it’s own, but as you can clearly see the seeds that led to Trump, a man of no ideology, to be able to defeat the center-right candidates (how he defeated the more staunchly conservative candidates is also an article that needs to be written someday). Insults like “drain the swamp” were so effective BECAUSE the actions of more moderate members led much of the Republican primary electorate to see the leading candidates as creatures of Washington – regardless of their personal integrity – while these same voters (note I’m referring to the primary voters – not activists) were far more similar to the positions and general philosophy of the more moderate contenders.
And that is the ultimate irony of this saga. Center-right principles, generally framed by principles such as:
- Adherence to the Constitution and protecting citizens from overreach by the government
- Deference to individual rights
- Limited, adaptable governence
- Commitment to rule of law, while making sure those tasked with enforcing it are held to the same standards.
- Smart, targeted policy, compromising if it is justifiable
Put some succiently, I think George Washington put the philosophy best: “A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.”
I’m obviously being a bit reductive, but what I’m describing is an identifiable political faction not just in the United States but worldwide. And – at least domestically – any fellow poll-junkie or field worker can attest, these principles in the abstract accurately represent the beliefs of a significant majority of voters. Differences on individual issues aside, the underlying foundation of center-right thought is the most representative of the American electorate.
And the utter humiliation of consistently ceding power is a direct indictment of the previous generation of leadership and the inaction of the current generation. We are all guilty.
So what is to be done? Despite the negative nature of this post, the fact that the principles espoused continue to be so popular without a coherent mouthpiece should give you heart. I will get into my personal remedy in my next post. The battle is just beginning.
As I’ll end most posts, I want to remind those of you of a more moderate, nuanced mindset: even though you feel alone, there are more people who think like you than you can imagine. We have just been too quiet because we feel isolated. That will be changing.