(As most STF readers know by now, since the election I’ve been alternating between fairly reasonable posts, and gloom and doom. This one is gloom and doom. I originally posted it, in somewhat different form, on the Crooked Timber comments, where some classic illiberals were defiantly holding the fort .)
Since the election I believe more than I ever did that all significant political debates in the US are now just matters of affiliation. Bush is in the driver’s seat, and people can affiliate for him or against him.
The otherwise-rational conservatives who remain on Bush’s team remain there on the basis of a personal anti-liberal existential commitment that they made after some life-changing experience, perhaps after rehabbing from drugs while blaming liberalism for all their problems. (The pro-conservative aspect of that kind of rehab is always weaker than the anti-liberal one).
For them to cease to be illiberals now would require a second existential crisis, and most people don’t want to have too many of those in one lifetime.
It’s not just Iraq. There still are many who, flying in the face of 24 years of political reality, call themselves fiscal conservatives and for that reason absolutely refuse ever to vote for a Democrat. Their politics is like their body type, changable only with major surgery.
The starve-the-beast Armageddonist neo-Confederate World War Four advocates are influencing policy now, and we aren’t — and neither are the hapless rational conservatives who continue to support Bush. We’re just watching, and so are they (whether they know it or not.)
People are pleased that Bush’s attempt to destroy social security seems to be failing, but that’s sort of as though Boston, all alone, were making a stout defense against the forces of Robert E Lee. Bush has the Democrats fighting in their last ditch.
And no, I don’t think that I am the irrational one here. The Bush loyalists are a bunch of very sick puppies. Arguing with them is pointless.
Update: Corrected from New York City to Boston per Lizardbreath.