Thursday, June 5, 2008

From Conservative to Rethug: A Lexicon

Every so often we think it's useful to define some of the terms we use when referring to our fellow Americans of a rightward tilt. As we have said in the past, the Hackwhackers have friends and family who count themselves as Republicans. We still love them and we think that's fine, although misguided. After all, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and many other fine Americans past and present have the same party identification.

But over the course of the last 40 or so years, American politics has been degraded by a relentless march downward to the lowest common denominator; it has witnessed a growing "us" vs. "them" dynamic, where both "us" and "them" are Americans. Many on all sides have contributed to this phenomenon, but we believe that a strong case can be made that, beginning in the '60s, there's been such a concerted effort to demonize one side -- liberalism -- to the extent that the word has almost become pejorative. Nixon, Agnew, George Wallace, and the rise of the right under Ronald Reagan and the Bushes were fueled in large measure by caricaturing Democrats/ liberals as soft, elitist, race-mixing, out-of-control tax-and-spenders. In short, when ever they could, they played on peoples' fears rather than their hopes.

During the Dumbya Era, liberals (or progressives, as we prefer) have admittedly taken a great deal of pleasure out of the reversal of fortunes of the "conservative" movement. But we would have to lay on the ridicule non-stop for 30 years in order to match the vitriol that's been, and continues to be, heaped on Democrats/ liberals in the GOP playbook. So with that as a bit of a rationalization, we would like to make some distinctions in the terms we often use here, moving from the sublime to the ridiculous:

Conservatism: A political philosophy based on a belief in limited government and the primacy of the individual. Its ideological forebears are Edmund Burke and Adam Smith. Its modern exemplars are Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. George "Born 200 Years Too Late" Will is a notable flame-keeper.

Republican: One of two great American political parties, representing (in the past 80 years) the conservative viewpoint.

Rebunglecans: Republicans who have demonstrated incompetence or ineptitude (see Dumbya, "Brownie," George Allen, and neocons Dead Eye Dick, Rummy, Wolfowitz, Kristol, and Feith -- we could go on, but our fingers would fall off). This is often the result of favoring "style" (eg., Dumbya as a "compassionate conservative") vs. "substance," or of a mindset that refuses to be confused by the facts or reality (eg., the neocons).

Rethugs: A growth sector within the Republican Party over the past 20 years, Rethugs are the win-at-all-costs, hypocritical, authoritarian, hyper partisan, divide and conquer cynics that have been in control of the GOP since the mid-80s. Think Karl Rove, the GOP House and Senate leadership ("Man Tan" Boehner, Missy McConnell, etc.), the entire Rupert Murdoch/ Fox News/ NY Post empire, hate talk radio (Michael "Wiener" Savage, for example), and the wingnut blogosphere (the Townhall crazies, Michelle Malkin, Doughy Pantload, etc., etc.). A not-insignificant part of this is the so-called Christian Right, which is neither Christian nor right: Tony Perkins, "Rev." Dobson, "Rev." Hagee, Diamond Pat Robertson, etc.

Well, we've gone on for quite enough. But hopefully this explains the shorthand terms we use and the distinctions we make.

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