Like all ideologies, conservative ideology requires the power of myth in order to keep its flame alive. Many conservatives may know the basis of that ideology while others may know relatively little. Either way, they subscribe to the ideology and are, therefore, affected by it. This diary is my attempt to define the foundations of that ideology.
By sheer power of repetition, Limbaugh propagates the myths upon which modern conservatism is based.
For a quick roundup of Limbaugh's myth-making strategy, read JohnKWilson's diary, Rush's 53 Smears Against Sandra Fluke.
It doesn't have to be true for Limbaugh to say it. He creates a meme and supports it with repeated assertions, innuendo, and proclamations.
Another important thing to look at is a memo from Newt Gingrich to GOPAC on the use of language in politics.
But where did Limbaugh and his ilk come from? Where did they get these hair-brained ideas in the first place? What is the unspoken link between the myth propagators and the entranced multitudes?
Follow me over the Great Orange Squigglies of Socialist Ruin ...
Conservative Mythological Figures
The whole ideology is based on Ayn Rand's fictional heros from The Fountainhead's Howard Roark to Atlas Shrugged's John Galt. To be fair, Rand was born and educated in Russia and moved to the US in 1925. Her experience with Russian Bolshevism was the cornerstone of her ideology.
Of course, adherents to the conservative ideology often cannot separate the Russian nature of Rand's work from the American context. To many of them, Communism is Russian Communism and Socialism equals Communism.
Like students who only read the Cliff's Notes version of a book, adherents to Rand's vision only get that Socialism is evil and that John Galt is a hero to be emulated.
After publishing four novels, Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy, dubbed "Objectivism". She also published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, compiling much of that work into six books on Objectivism and its application in society.
Oddly enough, Rand was an avowed atheist. This creates a problem for the religious right, although it is not unheard of for conservative Christians in the US to ignore mythology that contradicts the movement.
If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.In my opinion, this quote epitomizes Rand's contribution to modern conservative mythology. This is certainly the foundation of Tea Party conservatism, with its "Get government out of my life" philosophy. To outsiders, it seems mean spirited and petty. Consider me an outsider.
The Fallen Hero
Barry Goldwater was a five term senator from Arizona and the GOP nominee for President in 1964. Often referred to as "Mr. Conservative", Goldwater's campaign slogan was "In your heart, you know he's right".
Goldwater spent a great deal of energy both denigrating and working to defeat the New Deal and its legislation. His landslide defeat to Lyndon Johnson had a large ripple effect on down-ticket Republicans as well.
One of the side effects of that loss was the opportunity for a newer, younger generation of conservatives to mobilize. This newer conservative movement eventually led to the nomination and victory of Ronald Reagan.
Oddly enough, Goldwater was a staunch Libertarian who was often at odds with the religious right. Goldwater supported abortion rights and gay rights. Goldwater also opposed the religious right on the issue of religion in public discourse.
Yet Goldwater remains as the great fallen hero of the conservative mythology. The movement can, indeed, trace its rise to the collapse of Goldwater's campaign. Movement conservatives wish for a parallel world that diverged in november 1964.
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.This is Goldwater's money quote. It is the best remembered and most quoted. Again, it seems to epitomize Goldwater's contribution to modern conservative mythology. The quote epitomizes the zeal with which movement conservatives approach the political arena. Extremism, indeed.
Reagan is known principally for his economic policy dubbed "Supply-Side" economics or "Reaganomics". This economic theory was perhaps most famous for its claim that tax cuts more than pay for themselves based on elasticity.
The four pillars of the policy were: reduce the increase in government spending, reduce income and capital gains taxes, reduce economic regulation, and control of the money supply to reduce inflation.
The Reagan administration witnessed a 15% rise in the public debt, rising roughly three times in real dollar terms. Still, movement conservatism considers Reagan a patron saint. One can still witness GOP candidates tying themselves to the Reagan legacy.
Oddly enough, the great proof of supply-side economics is called the Laffer Curve. One would think that movement conservatives would stay away from that one, yet they don't.
Reagan is likely best known for his "Morning in America" political ad in 1984. In many ways, it was morning for movement conservatives.
Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.The irony of Reagan as the mythological figure of movement conservatism is that he would likely no be elected from the Republican party today. He would be viewed as too moderate. Still, "St. Ronnie" is revered by conservatives as a great hero.
If anyone can tell you more than the Wikipedia entry, then they may at least be worth listening to, if only for the entertainment value.
John Galt is a fictional character in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged (1957). Although he is not identified by name until the last third of the novel, he is the object of its often-repeated question "Who is John Galt?" and of the quest to discover the answer.
As the plot unfolds, Galt is acknowledged to be a creator, philosopher, and inventor who symbolizes the power and glory of the human mind. He serves as a principled counterpoint to the collectivist social and economic structure depicted in the novel.
The depiction portrays a society based on oppressive bureaucratic functionaries and a culture that embraces stifling mediocrity and egalitarianism, which the novel associates with socialistic idealism.