Conservatism Is An Empty Election Slogan


In which Barely A Blog’s resident physicist, Myron Robert Pauli*, reminds believers and dreamers that a Republican congress has never balanced a budget and that a Republican president that balances a budget is as elusive as Big Foot:

In reaction to the “Dime Store New Deal” of Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater and L. Brent Bozell Jr. penned a compact book called “The Conscience of a Conservative.” This became the basis of Goldwater’s 1964 campaign and Reagan’s 1964 “Time for Choosing” speech. It birthed the Reagan “conservative triumph” of 1980, the reshaping of the modern Republican Party, and the “conservative movement.” (Bernie Sanders could argue that the “progressive” economic leanings of the Democratic Party withered after Lyndon Johnson but this column will stick to Republicans.)

Modern Reagan conservatism was a four-legged chair hinging on four basic tenets. But how are those tenets holding up in 2016?

[1] LIBERTARIANISM: Always the weakest of the legs, most Republican respect for the Bill of Rights starts and ends with the Second Amendment. Even repealing the “regulating interstate commerce” aspects of the War on Drugs is beyond the scope of the GOP. Just this week, there is the clamoring to force Apple to remove encryption on personal phones. But for proof of the dearth of libertarianism and the Bill of Rights, one need not go any farther than to ask Jose Padilla.

[2] SOCIAL CONSERVATISM: While the “moral” rhetoric bellows periodically, the moral train pulled out of Leave-It-To-Beaver land a long time ago and has passed by Miley Cyrus’s twerking. Only 1 of 9 blacks are born in wedlock; among whites it’s a slightly better 1 in 2. One can denounce the trends or howl at the phases of the moon but pre-marital sex, booze, drugs, abortions and gay marriages show no sign of ever disappearing. The leading 2016 GOP candidate among “evangelical Christians” is a publicly vulgar serial adulterer. The military is a Global Force for Transgenderism. As was said long ago, the Kingdom of God is “not of this world.” The million fetuses terminated each year neither know nor care who the president is.

[3] FISCAL CONSERVATISM: Please name me a major program ever terminated by the Republicans – OK, the A-12 Navy Bomber. For every cut, Republicans have been expanding Medicare, inventing Obamacare (as Romneycare with the help of Professor Gruber), Leaving No Child Behind, subsidizing ethanol, pushing American Dream Downpayments, as well as bailing out banks and auto companies. This includes issuing driver’s licenses and preferential tuition to criminal trespassers (a.k.a. “undocumented” aliens).

Most Republicans run out of the room when asked to name a budget cut. To his credit, Ted Cruz has listed several “small” cuts (such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and Housing & Urban Development), but they are more than offset by proposed increases in Defense. Even without bloating up the Defense Department, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid is the 800 lb. gorilla of spending, sucking up 10% of GDP and always growing.

Cutting taxes on “the filthy rich” increases the deficit. Most Republicans cite the tired canard “cut waste, fraud, and abuse,” or the silly nonsense of passing a “Balanced Budget Amendment.” The Republican Congress never balances a budget, the Republican President never balances a budget so let’s send the problem on to Sonia Sotomayor and the Supreme Court. By the way, as reference, the Federal Budget under “liberal” Harry Truman in 1948 was $35.6 billion, with a $6 billion SURPLUS. If you believe that Republicans are fiscal Conservatives, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

[4] ANTI-COMMUNISM: Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government has spent well over $20 trillion on “defense” with never ending undeclared wars bringing “democracy” to the Third World and arming both Shiite and Sunni nutcases. It is far from clear that either Goldwater or Reagan would have gone for this neocon vision of perpetual warfare. The commies are gone but the defense budget in constant dollars $$ is larger now than during Vietnam, Korea, or the Reagan buildup! And Republicans clamor for MORE $$$! Republicans attack “liberals” for “throwing money at a problem,” but still keep troops in Italy in case Mussolini rises from the grave! Even here, Trump has served a purpose in chewing off some of the rot from the last surviving leg of the old conservative coalition.

Conservatism is long since over – dead as Yogi Berra!

Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor *Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.