Conservatives and the Politics of Hypocrisy
As we ride the wave of Donald Trump’s latest demonstration of ignorance, misogyny and hate, it’s important to examine how we got to this place and to hold “Conservatives” accountable for unleashing the abomination that may still become President of the United States. My point is simple: most Conservatives, especially those in government and the media, will abandon the values they have been trying to force on the rest of us for 30 years if it means winning an election.
Their bombastic declarations of piety, righteousness and fiscal responsibility have been put to the lie by their support of Trump despite all of the things he says and does that violates their “code” (a code I think is bullshit anyway, but it does constitute at least some sort of an ethos). The first and best example is, of course, his advocacy of sexual assault rendered legitimate by virtue of celebrity. Republicans and Conservatives (whatever that term means) have been jumping ship in droves since he uttered the P word, but he still has the endorsement of Paul Ryan, John McCain, Dick Cheney and on and on, at least as of tonight. Their moral superiority (don’t laugh) has led them to condemn what he said, but not to officially withdraw support. Even more suspect is the continued loyalty shown to Trump by Mike Pence, Mr. Christian Conservative. More on him in a minute.
So, the “Conservative” emphasis on traditional American values and religiosity, the hammer they wield against anyone who disagrees with them, turns out to be a philosophy of convenience to be abandoned the minute they believe they could lose the election. They castigate Trump publicly but will not pull their endorsements, an act which would surely be in conformity with their “ideology”. Yeah, I know that they hate and are embarrassed by Trump, but none of the Republican “leadership” is willing to completely denounce him in a public way.
What about their strident adherence to a doctrine of fiscal responsibility? Trump is a man who has probably not paid a tax bill in decades while the janitors in his hotels would be put in jail for taking an extra exemption. Forget about the morality of not paying taxes (even though conservatives sure as fuck wouldn’t let you abdicate moral responsibility). It is, on its face, fiscally irresponsible, even if it is legal. Did any of the Republican leadership condemn it? You know the answer.
Also, is it fiscally responsible to refuse to allow the American people to see your tax returns when you are running for a job that will have massive impact on their financial well-being? Is it good financial policy to repeatedly file for bankruptcy protection, an act which is essentially interposing the power of the government between you and your creditors? Have you seen any “conservatives” publicly denounce this reliance on government to solve his business problems? No, because apparently it is ok to utilize legislation to protect the assets of billionaires, but not legitimate for the rest of us to rely on the resources of government for the protection of civil rights or unemployment compensation or a living wage.
Another interesting part of the “conservative” doctrine is that government regulation and “interference” are bad things — right up until a billionaire needs bankruptcy or tax code protection, which is just fine for Trump because it’s legal. Moreover, the entire idea that the Federal government is some monolithic, tyrannical entity bent on enslaving us is complete bullshit propagated by, guess who, the people who make up the Federal government. Who are these mythical tyrants who want to take our liberty away? The Republican majority that controls both houses? Hillary Clinton, whose record shows more deregulation than either President Bush?
It is bright-line hypocrisy to suggest that the entity you and your ideological bedmates control is a world-dominating super-villain cabal. It’s also hypocrisy, by the way, to argue that the Feds interfere too much when the billionaires who finance your campaigns, to a person, have benefitted from Federal regulations like the ones allowing tax breaks for energy exploration (that’s right, we subsidize oil and gas companies), operating loss carryovers for horrible investments, regulations that have essentially turned utility companies into monopolies that have more power over our lives than a bucket full of Hillary Clintons and, get this, an entire section of the FHA that allows HUD to guarantee loans used by private developers to construct for-profit apartment complexes and senior care facilities with none of their personal assets at risk, true non-recourse lending.
For at least the last 15 or so years, to be a Conservative (more accurately, almost any kind of politician) also meant that you were devoted to moral principles and religiosity, in most cases within the Christian canon. Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and virtually every other elected official in this country identifies as religious. Why then would you endorse a candidate whose track record is one of adultery, bankruptcy, degradation of women, support for abortion, open contempt for the poor, promotion of gambling, sale of liquor and, arguably, sexual assault? Why? Because they think he can win and in the end, that’s all that matters. Not principle, not integrity, not God, not family, not the military, not some adherence to fiscal responsibility. Winning, at the expense of every value they have been forcing down our throats since at least Reagan.
Mike Pence is an interesting example. He has been a Conservative Christian darling for years, first on radio, then in Congress, now as Indiana’s Governor. To be fair, it appears that he has lived his life according to Godly principles (whatever that means when you’re a lawyer), that he is a dedicated family man and, probably, a good person, despite his slavish devotion to the Tea Party-line. What on earth would possess such a man to bed down with a floozy like Trump? At least 4 things: a visceral hatred of the Clintons, the desire to control the Supreme Court, a love of power and, you guessed it, rank hypocrisy.
Just for fun, take a look at what happened in Indiana with RFRA, which was a law of the kind sweeping the country at the time, designed as a consolation prize for Christian Conservatives for failing to pass a same-sex marriage ban. He signed the law in a ceremony closed to the public and the press, a ceremony at which he was surrounded by the vanguard of the anti-gay rights movement in Indiana. Won’t go into it too deeply, but do some research on the people who were invited to the festivities: Micah Clark of the American Family Association, Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, Eric Miller of Advance America.
He clearly put his Christianity ahead of his Republican economic growth credentials, and the state paid for it dearly. Companies like Salesforce, Angie’s List, the NCAA (fuck you, it’s a company), and, get this, the Disciples of Christ, whose 6000-Christian convention does huge business in Indiana, all threatened economic boycotts based on RFRA. He was, apparently, shocked by the reaction and quickly authored a “fix” to save Indiana from a massive loss of tax revenue (a lot of which we lost anyway). I disagree with the intent, spirit and substance of RFRA, but here’s a guy with real Conservative Christian cajones, right?
Wrong. His belief system crumbled the minute he agreed to serve as Trump’s running-mate and chief apologist. Just like Ryan and McCain, just like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. They value power over ethics, winning over morality, being viewed as “conservative” over doing the right thing. In short, hypocrites to a man, none of which would be nearly as offensive if they weren’t playing Russian roulette with a 5-bullet gun over the lives of 300 million people.
The question is: what do we do about it? Theoretically, Trump could still win the election. These high-rent Dr. Frankensteins could still unleash their Creature upon the world. We need to hold them accountable for every single act or omission any of them has been party to (see what I did there?) that has made this abomination possible. Ryan, McCain, Rubio, Cruz, et al., are still elected officials. We need to deprive them of that power. It seems more unlikely every day that Trump will win, but we need to spank their asses for allowing us to even get close. All hypocrites, all willing to sacrifice a country full of people based on their need to control the agenda.
Take a long look at the Wikipedia list of Trump endorsers tonight. Print it. Let it enrage you. White privilege drips from these fuckers like that shit you put on popcorn at the movies. Imagine that someone like Trump tried to grab your sister’s genitals and a roomful of these enablers held you back from clocking him in the face (and while you’re at it, take a look in the dictionary under white or privilege and I bet you see a picture of Billy Bush there too). You’re stronger than you think and the time has come to put an end to the hypocrisy, an end to bullshit “conservative” values that none of them really believe in anyway. We need to think clearly and positively about an answer to this madness. I have serious reservations about Hillary Clinton, too, but I know that she doesn’t talk pussy with Access Hollywood, and make no mistake, a vote for anyone other than her is a vote for Trump.