On straws and particularly the one that broke the camel’s back
Mark, my ‘last straw’ – like most of its ilk – has come at the end of a long parade of straws. I have begun to ask myself how can I self-identify or be part of a coalition with which I have so few shared values. My support for gay marriage, safety nets, a return to a more dovish, America-first foreign policy, and my general antipathy for the entire modus operandi of the American right place me too much at odds with that group to continue calling myself a conservative, or at least to care much one way or another whether I’m in that camp or anywhere near it. Nor do I have much interest in being conservative only to take pot shots at other conservatives who say crazy, stupid things because, quite frankly, that is not only a waste of time but there are simply way too many crazy things being said by way too many crazy right-wingers these days to keep up.
So, for me it was this Arizona immigration law coupled with actually living in Arizona and speaking with people here about the law who are conservatives and who are pretty gung-ho about it (and think it doesn’t go nearly far enough). Yes, Brewer made changes to the law. That’s great. I whole-heartedly approve. Yes, immigration is a problem and no my personal preferred solution – which is basically the same as Mark’s (I think open borders are fine so long as we also change our drug policies and foreign affairs policies at the same time) – is a pipe dream and other solutions need to be looked at.
But the overwhelming antipathy toward basic civil liberties and just this way of thinking generally convinces me that I simply have no – or not enough – cultural affinity with too many people who identify as conservatives. Most so-called “moderate” Republicans belong to the American exceptionalism camp and fully support our stupid foreign wars. Anti-war Republicans tend to belong to a group which is far, far more socially conservative than I am. At the end of the day, I guess I just find very little in common with the right save for a sort of loose commitment to limited government, and even then it becomes more and more apparent that this is only true in a fictional world that bears no resemblance to our own.
Torture, war, mindless obstructionism, a rigid more-conservative-than-thou orthodoxy, the constant parroting of right-wing pundits, and a blatant disregard for civil liberties all lead me to the conclusion that I have no place in the modern American right. Perhaps that makes me a neoliberal or a liberal-tarian or an independent or a lost boy – I have no idea.
The fact is, however, it wasn’t this Arizona immigration deal alone that has driven me to the breaking point. It’s all of it piled up. I just don’t feel the political or cultural affinity toward American conservatism which I think I ought to feel. I’m not sure. Like Mark, I find myself sympathizing more with the Left these days, even if I think they’re wrong a good deal of the time as well.
Or perhaps I’m just having one of my moments of despair. That happens from time to time.