I interviewed Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America (DFA) at the Democratic Party Convention in San Jose, California. I asked Jim how conservative values have failed. He says current conservativism is like a despotic dictator and is about corruption, power and the rewarding of friends.
Edwin: If progressive values are responsibility, what is the opposite? What is the value on the conservative side then?
Jim: Well, I’m not sure about that. I think the conservative -- or what is a conservative -- is going through a period of redefinition. I think that’s going to last awhile.
If we look at things that Barry Goldwater, and even William Simon stood for, what’s happened with that has changed dramatically. It’s not the party of Barry Goldwater and William Simon. It’s turned into the party of Manual Noriega, or whoever your favorite despotic dictator is.
You know, it’s very corrupt in the way that they operate. It’s all about power and rewarding their friends. It’s become something – even the free enterprise stuff – they talk about getting rid of government regulation, but what they are really doing is subsidizing very large businesses that in many respects aren’t competitive or don’t act in the national interest any more.
So there’s a lot of corruption of thought on that side. And I think it’s going to take a while for them to sort themselves out. I don’t think it’ll return to necessarily the total free market conservatism or even the values conservatism, because they found that both of those really don’t work in today’s society. But what that’s going to end up really looking like is something I don’t know yet.
Edwin: One question I’m having is have conservative values failed?
Jim: Well, I think they have, because they just don’t work in today’s society. I think a lot of this has to do with particularly the conservative religious folk who have really been trying to take over the political process, and, in fact, did succeed in many respects over the last eight years.
So, when they talk about a woman’s right to choose, equal rights for everybody, they tend to be on the wrong sides of those issues. And being on the wrong side of it doesn’t mean disagreeing with me, it means being for something that doesn’t work in today’s society.
To say that gay and lesbian people shouldn’t have the same rights as every other American simply doesn’t work in today’s society.
Edwin: What is the underlying value behind that?
Jim: I think the underlying value is their belief that his nation has some religious component to its politics. That means that their interpretation of the Bible is the way that all the rest of us are supposed to live.