Friday, August 27, 2010

The Besieged Conservative

Congressman John Fleming (R-LA):
We have two competing world views here and there is no way that we can reach across the aisle -- one is going to have to win. We are either going to go down the socialist road and become like western Europe and create, I guess really a godless society, an atheist society. Or we're going to continue down the other pathway where we believe in freedom of speech, individual liberties and that we remain a Christian nation. So we're going to have to win that battle, we're going to have to solve that argument before we can once again reach across and work together on things.
What I find striking about this little rant is that it sounds to me like a perfect formula, not for culture war, but for bipartisan cooperation. Fleming seems to assume that his opponents want socialism, an end to free speech, restrictions on liberty, and the creation of a godless society, where as I don't know a single Democrat who wants either socialism or more limits on liberty, and the ones who want a godless society know they're not going to get it. Where is the argument?

As I have said before, the weird thing about the whole Tea Party movement is that while they are really angry about something, they either can't say what they are angry about or they list things that mostly aren't issues. For example, their right to own guns, which Tea Partiers seem to think is under assault from a President who has never mentioned gun control. Fleming's notion of a "Christian nation" may include things like an abortion ban and restrictions on gay rights that most Democrats oppose, but he doesn't say that, and George W. Bush showed there are several issues on which Christian conservatives and liberals can work together, like homelessness and school reform. And if he wants to protect liberty, I would happily work with him to repeal the Patriot Act and curtail the ridiculous searches we inflict on airline passengers.

No matter how hard I search, I just can't find real issues dividing the parties that justify the volume of angry rhetoric.

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