Sunday, April 19, 2009

Do Republicans Have a Future? Pt 2

Last night, I started a meditation on the future of the party to which I have belonged my entire life, the Republican party.

I want to unpack something. I mentioned "traditional values." That's a slippery term; it means different things to different people. So here's what I mean by "traditional values."

"Traditional values" = values based on the commonly accepted reading of the Bible, based on the existence of a transcendent God who has communicated himself to us in a unique way through the Christian canon. I realize that people disagree over how to read the Bible, and that the meanings of many biblical passages are in dispute. That does not render Bible-based values impossible, however.

In terms of policy, this means:
  • respect for life; life has intrinsic value, whether it's the life of the unborn or disabled, etc. Because we are the special creations of a loving God, we are more than biological entities. Life is therefore valuable, and worth protecting, even when inconvenient or difficult.
  • respect for institutions beyond government; the church and the family, for example. In Europe, and in Obamity's America, government claims the right to dictate how children should be raised, how churches should conduct their affairs, etc. Church / family and government are in a turf war. Why shouldn't the government endorse homosexual marriage? If you don't believe in transcendent values, and that marriage is more than whatever the enlightened who govern us determine it should be, then you have no adequate answer to that question.
All this being said, I am always uneasy when politicians talk about "traditional values," "family values, etc. Some politicians who endorse conservative positions in regard to these issues are attempting to act on conviction. For every one of those, there are a dozen for whom "gay marriage ban" or whatnot are simply red meat they throw out to manipulate their followers.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Do Republicans Have a Future?

Since the Obama victory in November, I have been thinking and reading and wondering about the future of the Republican party. I'm a conservative Republican, with the accent on conservative.

Modern conservatism (small government, low taxes, traditional values: a modified brand of libertarianism) has had its home in the Republican party since the days of Reagan. Since the 1980 election, if you agreed with Wm F Buckley, if you read National Review, you were almost certainly a Republican.

Throughout that time, conservatives have known who and what we were. We knew what we believed about a variety of issues, and why.

What happened? Several things, I think.
  1. Winner's complacency; Reagan's popularity (which carried over to GH Bush for most of his presidency) and the way the 1994 elections reversed Clinton's victory convinced us that history was headed in our direction. Can you believe that four years ago, Karl Rove was "laying the groundwork for a permanent Republican majority"? Gee, how did THAT turn out?
  2. We allowed our opponents and their friends in the media to define the way the public perceived us. If the media keeps referring to you as a bigot, sooner or later those who are in the middle are going to believe that characterization.
  3. We squabbled over turf instead of standing up for what was right. Never mind how effective he was: Newt Gingrich was unpopular with his comrades in congress because he's arrogant. When David Bonior attacked Newt for having a book advance--notice how no one has attacked the Clintons or the Obamas for making money off books?--Republicans sat on their hands. Other Republicans in congress wanted his power, or to take him down a notch, so they tacitly participated in the press savaging of Gingrich.
More later, I'm tired.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Now that BSG is no more

Now that BSG has finished its run, what are the most satisfying dramas on TV?
  • I watch Lost and 24 regularly; I've also gotten caught up in Friday Night Lights, because it reminds me of Sweet Mother Texas.
  • The Unit is a very good show. Dennis Haysbert is a fabulous actor; he has the presence of a John Wayne. (I kind of wish David Palmer had been elected president last November; I'd be more confident in our ability to stand against Iran, etc.)
  • I was a huge fan of Life on Mars, both the US and the BBC versions. (Even though the US version pulled a Bobby-Ewing-in-the-shower "it was only a dream" ending out of thin air.)
  • Ashes to Ashes is currently on BBC on Saturday nights, it's the follow up to Life on Mars, and is very good. Love the Gene Hunt character. (Speaking of Brit imports, don't miss MI-5 on BBC or PBS or wherever you can find it.)
  • South Central and The Unusuals both had very promising beginnings.
My hope is that South Central will fill the gap left by The Shield, The Sopranos, etc. Gritty cop-drama morality plays are my favorite kind of TV.

Ultimately, I watch too much TV.