A Note on Conservative Values

Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is fun. Peter Montgomery, for Right Wing Watch, the day after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012:

Not only did Obama win big, but voters in Maine and Maryland embraced marriage equality, and Washington seems likely to join them. Minnesota voters rejected a Religious Right-backed attempt to put anti-gay discrimination into the state’s constitution. Tammy Baldwin was elected to the Senate, where she will be the first openly gay member.

Well before all those results were in, it was clear that the night was not going according to what Religious Right leaders had thought was God’s plan. At 10 pm, Tony Perkins and Jim Garlow held a phone call briefing for pastors. It was a very subdued affair, with representatives of the state marriage campaigns trying to sound hopeful about the then-uncalled outcomes in their states. Perkins and Garlow also held a Wednesday webcast on the “aftermath and aftershocks” as the scope of their Election Day drubbing sank in. “The problem in America is sin,” said Garlow. But, he said, “we have no problem that the next Great Awakening cannot solve.”

The tendency after an election defeat to avoid blame by casting it elsewhere was in full flower the day after the election. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Religious Right favorite, described Mitt Romney as “the most liberal Republican nominee in history” who had “waffled” on abortion, had passed a health care bill as governor, and had a hard time convincing conservatives on his commitments on taxing and spending. Perkins criticized Romney for not campaigning on issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty, even though Obama used them to appeal to his base. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway agreed, saying Republicans had not done enough to draw the contrast on social and “moral” issues. Regarding the marriage wins, Perkins blamed Obama in part, saying the president’s policies have had “a shaping influence on the culture.” He and others also blamed marriage equality proponents’ financial advantage ....

.... Some Religious Right leaders sought solace in faith that God is ultimately in control. “America as we know it may have signed its death warrant tonight,” said Garlow during the pastors’ briefing. But not to worry, he said, nations come and go, but God’s kingdom is forever. Perkins said FRC and its allies would continue to stand strong in the face of “an increasingly hostile culture.”

Others looked forward to the next political fight. Pollster Conway predicted that 2014 would bring, like 2010’s Tea Party wave, a conservative resurgence and called for candidate recruitment to begin now. Perkins agreed that conservatives have never had a stronger “farm team” and touted potential conservative candidates for 2016, including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Mike Pence.

Yes, indeed, a genuine Kellyanne Conway sighting, as the pollster reminded Republicans, as we hear every election, how things would go better if they would just become more misogynistic, homophobic, masculinist, Christianist, supremacist―you now, whatever counts among Republicans as family values and morality. It’s also worth noting, in addition to the farm team standouts, the presence of Tony Perkins of Family Research Council.

It’s just an interesting contrast. Kellyanne Conway, in her role as Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has undoubtedly drawn a contrast on social and moral issues. Mr. Perkins, for his part, was last heard explaining, “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values”.

Once upon a time, the prospect that they’re all the same, or that there is no difference between the parties, seemed a little more absurd for the simple fact that it wasn’t the in thing to say. Those for whom Saint Ronald Magnus Reagan is more than just some shadowy legend of Republican Party goodness might also recall the idea of the Cold War. And this is how important the Cold War was: American Christians rejected the Apostles of Christ in order to protect the nation from Communism.

No, really, that’s what the whole “In God We Trust” thing on our money is about.

The basic point here is that in the time when Ronald Reagan made the word “liberal” a pejorative―which is probably pretty important to understanding why the Democrats aren’t actually a proper liberal party―the basic split was clear: Liberal equals communism equals bad. Conservative equals capitalism equals American virtue and goodness for the Glory of God Almighty, Amen.

The part that holds true is conservatism and Machiavillian capitalism. Kellyanne Conway is Donald Trump’s campaign manager. Tony Perkins reminds that conservative family values are secondary. And that’s the thing: If the vote is the currency, these capitalists will do anything to gather it.

It’s always been that way.

____________________

Image note: Kellyanne Conway speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Gray, Rosie. “Prominent Evangelicals Still Backing Trump After Lewd Video”. BuzzFeed. 7 October 2016.

Montgomery, Peter. “Ralph Reed: It’s Not My Fault”. 7 November 2012.

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