Updated Saturday, November 24, 2012: Over the last week or so I've noted more and more hints that the GOP is slowly rediscovering rationality. This article was particularly encouraging, discussing as it does the slow but steady distancing of rational thinking from the likes of Grover Norquist. Perhaps the pendulum is truly starting to swing back--at least a little bit--toward a truer definition of "center." In the meantime, I thought it might be helpful to revisit this blog posting from about six months ago, wherein I provided some information on how to tell the real from the not-so-much....
Also: I recognize that there are now SIX ways (plus a bonus seventh) to spot a Fake Republican, but if I change the title, it'll screw up all the links....
Yesterday I watched a few minutes of a clip in which Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin tag-teamed an inordinately civil Juan Williams over the subject of Occupy Wall Street. The Hannity-Malkin strategy, apparently, was to distort, deprecate, and interrupt as much as humanly possible.
I realize, of course, that this wasn’t meant to be news in any acceptable definition of the term. It’s entertainment, an amygdala-driven ratings ploy meant largely for the already convinced. Still, it pissed me off, and the reason was simple: Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin are Fake Republicans.
It came to me in a split second, this revelation. It isn’t that they’re annoying and rude, relying on polished but logic-less rhetoric (though they are), nor that they seem so smug while they’re doing it. It’s that they’re actually pretending to be Republicans and obviously have no idea what it means to be one.
So here I am, in a moment of self-righteousness (I admit it; I’m not proud) offering up this simple primer for all of you out there who might have difficulty spotting the Fake Republican. I’ll understand if you do; they’ve carefully infiltrated our spaces over the last generation, so much so that it can be very difficult to tell them apart from the Real Republicans—at least, of course, until they choose to speak.
Here are the six (updated from five, plus one) simple clues you need; follow these and you, too, can be a first-class Fake Republican spotter.
- A Fake Republican babbles on and on about free markets and the evils of regulation as if he knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t realize that if markets were truly free, the top ten prime time shows would all be porn, little Jimmy down the street would own a bazooka, and the most popular fast food would be Soylent Green. What we need are free and fair markets; smart regulation is meant to get as close to that ideal as possible.
- A Fake Republican doesn’t understand the difference between having a nation of Christians and being a Christian nation. The former is largely factual (78.4% is the actual factual, according to Pew), while the latter is a theocratic statement similar to ones that Ayatollahs and the Taliban use. If you think the comparison facile, check out this site, the proponents of which have drafted a Constitutional Amendment declaring the United States a Christian Nation.
- A Fake Republican stands tall in the face of the clear hypocrisy filling the idea that a smaller and more efficient government should spend at least some of its time in your bedroom, keeping an eye on your behavior in order to impose morality on you while at the same time ignoring the blatant immorality inherent in the way they currently deal with these (truly Christian) issues of poverty, health and equality.
- A Fake Republican prattles on and on about a strong United States yet completely ignores the value of education in protecting our way of life. He is instead worried about schools making more liberals instead of realizing that schools make thinkers, and that thinking is a good thing. He assumes that liberals are in education in order to indoctrinate, rather than wondering whether the free market of ideas might actually encourage liberal thinking.
- A Fake Republican mistakes conformism for conservatism, forgetting that the history of true conservatism (in the Burkian tradition) rest on intelligent and thoughtful non-conformism distilled from independent thinking, careful analysis, and tradition--not the spewings of pre-determined talking points that ignore evidence, facts, and rationality.
- And, finally, a Fake Republican doesn’t recognize that liberal views—particular social liberal views—are part and parcel of the Republican history going all the way back to the formation of the party in the 1850s. A Real Republican gets this, recognizing that the job is to assess, evaluate and (above all) go slowly forward in a thoughtful and responsible way. The Fake Republican doesn’t want progress at all; he just wants power.
There you go: simple tips. I’m sure I could come up with a dozen more, but these will do. Now go! Be a Fake Republican spotter! Help the country and your party find their way.
(Oh: and here’s a bonus tip: 7. A Fake Republican might have a chalkboard....)