The Republicans’ big tent


First, my apologies to the campus Republicans. Even after cleaning Liberals’ clocks (a fact which I readily admit, unlike some of my friends who still complain about voting irregularities in Ohio), they’re still so threatened whenever anyone turns a critical eye toward their glaring lies and gaping hypocrisy. After two years of working for The Record I should have known better, and for that I am truly sorry.

(As a quick aside: My mother, a registered independent in the state of Michigan, received a phone call the week after the election. The group said they were conducting a poll, but really it was the Republican Party asking questions like, “Aren’t you glad those Liberals didn’t win control of Congress? Do you know what four years of a Liberal administration would have done to our national security?” Bipartisanship, indeed!)

Anyhow, I wanted to take a minute to correct a misconception. I don’t believe that Republicans lack diversity. Indeed, I believe they have a large tent that encompasses many different beliefs. My point is simply that the current administration has completely abandoned not just the various conservative ideologies, but also the doctrinal consistency that conservative law students so love to espouse. Let’s take a look:

Federalists – There are two types of Federalists: those who speak out of principal (a.k.a. the Federalists I respect) and those who joined the bandwagon because it meant overturning the actions of a historically liberal Congress. Now that the tide in Congress has turned, however, it shouldn’t be long before divisions begin to appear.

It’s easy to point to the big affronts to federalism embraced by the current administration (tort “reform,” constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, sodomy, metrosexuality, etc.), but even the behind-the-scenes movement has seemingly hit a dead end. What the Court began in Board of Trustees v. Garrett it was unable to continue in Tennessee v. Lane unless it completely read the 14th amendment out of the Constitution. It’s possible that a Bush appointee could help the Court overcome this final hurdle, but it’s more likely that the social conservatives will begin to embrace their big-government Republican Congress. After all, it’s so much fun imposing one’s will on the rest of the country! We Liberals certainly enjoyed doing it over the years. Given that their name is a grand irony, I shouldn’t expect the Federalists to embrace the Democratic Party (or doctrinal consistency) just yet, but I do wish they’d at least vet our judicial nominees for us. They’re so good at it!

Fiscal Conservatives – What I love about Bush is that he sets lofty goals. Sure, he could have aimed for an era of Clintonian surpluses. Instead, knowing it would be far too difficult to veto even a single piece of Congressional spending, he chose to aim high: “I’ll cut the deficit in half over the next four years.” With his plan to privatize social security likely costing over a trillion dollars (and who could forget Iraq – the sticker in my neighbor’s window tells me I shouldn’t!), it sure looks like he has a great chance at meeting his goals.

Libertarians – Now Reagan was a Republican the Libertarians could really embrace. He wanted to eliminate the Department of Education. And Legal Aid. Probably entire branches of government – I really can’t remember, since I was in grade school at the time. Bush, on the other hand, likes teachers so much he married one (right after she sold him some pot, I believe). Since libertarians want to legalize drugs I suppose that’s one reason they could support Bush, but there don’t seem to be many others. This administration just isn’t interested in small government.

Isolationists/Xenophobes – I never thought I’d say this, but maybe Pat Buchanan had a point. The U.S. wouldn’t be terribly happy if Canada decided to institute a regime change in Washington. (I, of course, would be ecstatic. Vive le Canada!). Maybe we shouldn’t have expected the Iraqis to embrace us with open arms after all.

So who does that leave? Gun nuts, Neo-cons, and social conservatives, I suppose. And I think the Dems are going to have some luck working on those social conservatives over the next four years. We have a long way to go; in an article in The Wall Street Journal last week, a member of the NRA actually quoted Christ to support universal gun ownership. But I’m fairly certain Christ had some other teachings that were somewhat against violence. So I’ve heard.

Hypocrisy abounds in politics, no matter what party one belongs to, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. But next time the conservative gunner in your class starts talking about doctrinal consistency, give him what he’s asking for. It’s what we Dems should have been doing all along.

Jon Lamberson is a 3L.

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