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Must see video: Conservatives Without a Conscience

John Dean discusses his book, “Conservatives Without a Conscience” with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. In researching the book, Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, came across a 50-year-old academic study. Dean believes that the study helps to explain the move to the right by the Republican Party: the members are more likely to follow authoritarian leaders. Further, there has to be an enemy for the followers, who are very aggressive, to attack. Fear-mongering is the way things are done.

The video is a little over 10 minutes long but worth every minute for liberals and conservatives – especially Barry Goldwater conservatives – alike. After watching, please share your thoughts.

h/t to Nathan at Moral Contradictions

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15 thoughts on “Must see video: Conservatives Without a Conscience

  1. Whoa whoa whoa….

    I have to absolutely disagree with this one.

    Republicans, I have found, are much more distrustful of any aggregation of power — because we don’t like the idea of anyone having that kind of arbitrary power over our lives. Republicans were the anti-government ones, Republicans broke the back of Soviet Communism, Republicans were the original trust-busters, Republicans ended slavery in the South, Repubicans demanded wage reforms for workers, etc.

    That’s certainly not to argue that the GOP is the exclusive domain of giving power back to the people, but there is an absolute inherent distrust of power among Republicans (generally).

    In fact, most Republicans would argue the other way: Democrats are the ones who long for the kind of leaders that bring their party of coalitions together. Clinton, Roosevelt, Johnson, Jackson, these men were strong leaders. Democrats need leadership in a way Republicans do not, because Republicans as a group tend to be much more monolithic than Democrats (labor unions, environmentalists, pro-choicers, minorities, and many special interests that do not necessarily co-incide).

    I find it very interesting that the author insists that the GOP needs an active, aggressive opposition to attack. It’s post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning employed to the fullest. Republicans certainly did not invent MoveOn.org, nor did they invent al-Qaeda, the Soviet Union, the Confederacy, monopolies, etc.

    Historically, when you want something accomplished against the bad guys, America turns to the Republican Party. When you want to build society, America turns to the Democratic Party.

    This movement (in both parties) to generalize and compartmentalize — and ultimately demonize — the opposition scares the hell out of me. That’s not the way America is supposed to work.

    Liberals and conservatives have a common enemy in progressives and neo-cons in this respsect, and stuff like this just continues to drive a wedge that benefits those who want this kind of acrimony, not those who seek consensus among the best and brightest.

    My thoughts anyhow… long-winded as they are. ;)

  2. Shaun – I don’t think he is talking about Republicans in general. I think he is talking about the neo-cons, the extreme wing of the Republican party, which is getting more and more powerful.

    And, after all, Dean is a Republican ;)

  3. Shaun….

    I wish your analysis was on the mark. However, the current incarnation of the Republican party is fascist, power hungry, corrupt, and taking away the rights of citizens at every chance they can. Bush thinks he has the power of a king, does not need to abide by any law, thinks he can re-write congressional laws with his silly signing statements….and “we” end up suffering the consequences.

    I wish some of these “conservative” Republicans that you describe would stop marching in lockstep, wasting our time and resources on diversionary tactics like the marriage and flag burning amendments and restore the checks and balances in our country.

    I wish the dems would find their spine and start supporting folks like Russ Feingold and John Murtha.

    I ‘m pleased that we have Jim Webb running in VA. Hopefully, he and a few other newly elected folks will help clean up the current money grabbying corrupt shennanigans currently running out of control up there in DC….

  4. However, the current incarnation of the Republican party is fascist

    See, that’s what I’m talking about!!!

    I am not a fascist, and take high offense to being called one. Yet if I called any Democrat a communist, it would be an absurd comment…

    Yet calling me a fascist is acceptable.

    Progressives and neo-cons are destroying America. Webb is nothing more than an extension of the progressive electorate, and I hope the liberals in the DPVA have the wisdome to squash the rebellion now, otherwise we may very well be choosing between fascists and communists for leadership…

  5. Shaun,

    You said: “Historically, when you want something accomplished against the bad guys, America turns to the Republican Party. When you want to build society, America turns to the Democratic Party.”

    Doesn’t that statement fall in line with John Dean’s assertion that neo-cons need a common enemy to unite conservatives in general? What’s stopping neo-cons from exploiting the bad guys (or “fear-mongering” if you will) for political gain? Instead of getting “accustomed to” certain threats, he’s concerned that “when people are frightened…they tend to become more conservative” and that “it’s paid off for them politically”. Sounds plausible, at least.

    Maybe there’s too many broad assertions here – for instance, if your statement is true, why didn’t the nation vote for the GOP in 1940, 1944, or 1964? Regardless, dismissing the man’s point, given his credentials, does not appear to be the expedient choice and is a lesson for people of all political stripes.

    “This movement (in both parties) to generalize and compartmentalize — and ultimately demonize — the opposition scares the hell out of me. That’s not the way America is supposed to work.”

    I agree with you as I learned I don’t have a taste for it – but (enter Lumberg) – um… yeah…did you pick up that he’s a Goldwater conservative – one of the first of the modern era of conservatives, and that he worked for Nixon? In reference to this interview, was that statement necessary? (I can see why after Mosquito)

  6. Shaun is right, and this is exactly why I keep saying that these authoritarian personality types are not really Republicans – it just doesn’t fit the creed. The Republican party made a deal with the devil, and has done some serious damage to itself. The real Republicans are the ones still standing up for individual liberties.

    Neo-cons are the ultimate pragmatists – no principles whatsoever – and they are laughing their heads off at the way they’ve been able to manipulate authoritarians who are motivated by single-issue obsessions like “gay marriage.” They don’t give a rat’s a** about gay marriage, and I think we all know that. They only employ fear mongering because it works to accomplish their goals. They don’t care who they hurt in the process. After dehumanizing gay people stops being effective, who’s next?

  7. Jim – I don’t have any idea what you are talking about. I have no agenda. There are tons of Republicans who don’t agree with the neo-conservative movement. And, if I am reading him correctly, Shaun is one of them. I think George Will may be another.

  8. Here is Goldwater’s acceptance speech from the 1964 Republican National Convention, just in case you are unfamiliar with the man. As I understand it, he had planned to co-author the book with Dean.

  9. “Webb is nothing more than an extension of the progressive electorate, and I hope the liberals in the DPVA have the wisdome to squash the rebellion now, otherwise we may very well be choosing between fascists and communists for leadership.”

    Oh really, Shaun? Progressive thought is communist? Tell that to Teddy Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, the original founders of the movement.

    I think both sides are very dangerous. I personally find neo-Cons much more scary than extreme-liberals, but that’s just me. I am a Moderate-Conservative on social issues and populist on economix issues. I find that sometimes neither party supports me, but the Democrats seem to be much more welcoming of those who may not completely agree.

    If the Republicans are the party of “small government”, please explain:
    The PATRIOT Act
    No Child Left Behind
    The NSA Privacy Violations
    Forcing beliefs on others (Banning abortion when not EVERYBODY agrees, or trying to increase prayer in public schools when not EVERYBODY agrees, etc.)

    The Republican Party used to be the “small government” party under Reagan. Not anymore. Now they just cut taxes on the top 1%, and consider that “reducing government.” But you have to admit, this has been a very “big government” administration, and the Republican Congress seems to be doing little to stop it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of “small government” Elephants out there, yourself included, but the neo-Cons are easily more prominent and vocal. Forcing your beliefs on others and spying on your own people without informing them is hardly “small government.” You want real small government? Check out the Libertarian Party. They may be crazy, but at least they’re serious when they say that government is too powerful.

  10. humm It’s a tad bit over the top in parts. I was pretty put off by the whole not fighting terrorisim comment. In general I feel the whole country is becoming more polarized and I would say that there are propably 23% left-wingers as well. As far as finding something to rally around in 2004 it was never pro-kerry it was too much anti-bush and in 2006 its too much anti-iraq instead of pro “insert here”. I place much of this blame on the 23% left-wing of your party.

    Much of the rhetoric that comes out of the DNC and RNC is disguesting. Too many fundraising letters try to get funds by trying to scare you into donating to prevent the evil other side from winning. For example, I keep getting these Allen emails basically saying look out Webb is Schumer in disguise. This doesn’t really effect me. However, I am sure both parties have polled and found that demonizing the other side raises tons of cash. In the end I do vote pretty much straight republican but personally I would propably be more inclined to donate if I saw what the person wanted to accomplish.

    The good news is a majority of America 54% are still normal I am looking forward to the open primaries for both parties in 2008. I think it will be good soulsearching and of course all indications show the general election being close which will be exciting.

  11. Shaun,

    I did not call you a fascist.. I don’t believe that “traditional” Republicans are fascist. .I stated the current incarnation of the Republican party is fascist (merging corporations and government, i.e. the Mussolini definition). I was referring to the leadership and elected officials who refuse to stand up against the current “neo-con” madness that has gained control of the traditional Republican party..

    My father was a Republican and (believe it or not) I actually enjoy the company of many “traditional” Republicans. They don’t defend Bush and his cronies and are very upset at what has happened in their party.

  12. I personally have a great deal of respect for Goldwater, and his 1964 acceptance speech should be catalouged as the definition of Republicanism.

    Unfortunately, classical liberals are a a rare find today…

  13. Shaun – I am interested in why you think the progressives are hurting the Democratic party. And no, that’s not a trick question.

    Also – what do you think is a classic liberal?

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