August 10, 2017
The significance of this can’t be overstated, for Kristol, a figure whose ideology is of a piece with that of the Republican Party of which his was an especially audible voice for much of this young century, has vindicated what some of us have been saying for quite some:
The GOP is not, as it insists, “conservative.”
It is neoconservative.
And between neoconservatism and classical or traditional conservatism, there is a difference not merely in degree, but in kind.
Bill’s own father, Irving, was explicit on this score. In contrast to traditional conservatives, he wrote, neoconservatives embrace “the welfare state.” They enthusiastically endorse “social security, unemployment insurance, some form of national health insurance [i.e. “universal healthcare” or “socialized medicine”], some kind of family assistance plan, etc.”
Nor, Irving Kristol continued, will neoconservatives hesitate “to interfere with the market for overriding social purposes.”
Neocons do not want to “destroy the welfare-state [.]” Quite the contrary, they seek to “reconstruct” the welfare-state “along more economical and humane lines.”
Neoconservative Nathan Glazer goes so far as to suggest that neocons are essentially socialists. “It’s very hard for us,” for neocons and socialists, “to define what it is that divides us, in any centrally principled way.” While they may disagree over policies, there doesn’t appear to be any “principles that separate us [.]”
In his book on this subject, neoconservative Douglas Murray underscores the immensity of the divide between traditional conservatism and his ideology of choice. He explains, rightly, that “socially, economically, and philosophically,” neoconservatism differs in kind from conservatism. The former, Murray says, is “revolutionary.”
The Bill Kristols of the world decided to rebrand once before when they immigrated from the Democrat Party, their original home. In the late 1960’s, the Party of the Jack Ass began drifting too far to the left for their taste. The fortunes of “conservatism” as a label were rising just as those of “liberalism” were beginning to experience a reversal.
It was time to cash in.
As if overnight, these anti-communist liberal Democrats became “conservatives.”
Those of their critics who objected to this attempt to hijack conservatism as a concept and burgeoning post-World War II political movement would be dismissed, purged. Critics would be demonized as “racists,” “anti-Semites,” and, in short, “extremists.”
However successful these smear campaigns against their enemies proved to be—and they were indeed successful much more often than not—they could not alter the reality that neoconservatives were and remain soft (and not always so soft) leftist liberals. In light of this thesis, the last couple of decades begin to make more sense, putting the lie to the notion that the neocons’ home, the Republican Party, was ever a vehicle for true conservatism.
That, scandalously, Republicans have failed to keep their pledge to repeal Obamacare may have something to do with their animosity toward President Trump. There is, though, another reason to account for their infidelity:
Republicans don’t mind Obamacare.