Life doesn’t neatly fit into chapters. When (if?) we end the Republican reign by electing Obama and several more Democrats, it won’t be the end of the ugly side of the Republican Party. Face it, they won’t wake up after election day. They didn’t wake up when we didn’t find the WMDs, when we screwed up Iraq, when we tortured, when they lost in 2006, and they’re not going to wake up now. They’ve laid the seeds for their denial of reality with their false claims of voter fraud and their villification of ACORN. They’ll cry that McCain didn’t take the gloves off (when all his negative attacks were the cause of his rapid fall in the polls) and their hero will be Sarah “Palling around with terrorists” Palin. Even if they lose the election, this isn’t over. This isn’t over by a long-shot.
After the fall of the Bush-Republicans should begin the rise of a new Republican Party, but it won’t happen automatically. The Ugly Republicans — the Rovians, et al — have a stranglehold on the Republican media, talk radio and the like. We see glimmers of honesty. Even on Fox News, you have Chris Wallace questioning McCain about his robocalls. You have the Ron Paul Republicans who want to “Restore the republic.” That’s so refreshing after 9/11 brought in the age of the “homeland.” And everywhere, you have Republicans who aren’t racist fuckheads, who aren’t asshole Machiavellians, who aren’t heartless torturers, and who aren’t incompetent, proud ignoramuses. The trick is to get us, even though we won’t agree on everything, to band together and kick out the incompetent party hacks who got us here in the first place. That’s going to be a lot of work.
So as much as we would like to close the book on the Bush Age, it’s not going to happen. The Republican Party needs to be transformed. The loss is a necessary condition for such a change, but it, alas, is not sufficient for the change. It will require hard work, especially on the intellectual end. Conservatism, as we know it, must die a little death. It will not change into something altogether new (conservatives don’t believe such a thing is possible anyway), but it must be something modern. It must see how human nature works, and not vow to reform human nature itself, but put in fetters to restrain our dangerous tendencies. Yes, this means regulation is necessary, but we should be judicious. It means a conservatism which respects ancient laws, like habeas corpus. It must be scientific, not anti-science. It must respect the planet. As much as I’d like to go on, I’ll stop here because this isn’t something that can fit in one weblog entry.
Even for you who aren’t conservative, remember that the real work begins after the election. The Democrats have continually caved in to Bush’s demands, thus garnering approval ratings lower than Mr. President himself. They are also in the pockets of several business interests. Obama himself voted the wrong way on telecom immunity. We’ll finally have a president who’ll listen to us, but you have to make sure you shout louder than the enemies of liberty and democracy.