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The Real Conservative in the Race: How a Republican Wins in 2012

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Don't Tread on Me
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There isn't one. Jon Huntsman may be the closest of the current crop, but he's still a corporate stooge, railing about lowering the "highest business taxes in the OECD" to "create jobs" and other such piffle.

The candidates that get the most press? Not even close. I won't waste your or my time biting into their sugar coated Satan sandwiches to expose the toxic layers. The pernicious contents spill over the edges, there for all to see.

What of recent entries? Rick Perry? You must be kidding; if ever there was a Texan who was all hat/hair and no cattle, it's the Preacher-in-Chief. (OK, George W. Bush was too, but you get the point).

The Republican candidate who wins in 2012 will run a Tea Party flavored campaign that immediately dispenses with all the so-called "social conservative" crap. Real conservatives are loath to snoop about your bedroom, your classroom, or your work place. They don't care which adult you have sex with, whether you hit the bong after work, or how many children you (don't) have.

The Big Brother of government at all levels is anathema to real conservatives. Individual privacy--of person, property and communications--is paramount. What is less conservative than the growing power and reach of the Surveillance State? Don't Tread on Me.

Real conservatives care deeply about and defend civil liberties. How could they do otherwise? Our rights are the bedrock of the American Republic. Nothing is more conservative than preserving our 230 year-old individual rights and responsibilities, especially when their exercise results in outcomes the real conservative does not like. They're called principles, something fake conservatives lack. These rights are the fixed, inflexible rules of the road. They are the substantive and procedural protections by which the citizen wards off the tentacles of Big Government. Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.

Real conservatives dismiss the claptrap about "activist judges." No real conservative would ever approve of a court that sided routinely, reflexively with Big Government or Big Business. The real conservative loves and defends (and attempts nonviolently to change) the (amended) Constitution, not shred it under dreadfully radical doctrines. Free speech for the corporation? Unlimited campaign contributions from shadowy, disposable corporate fronts? Unthinkable to the Founding Fathers, says the real conservative, as it should be to their current admirers in tricorn hats.

The real conservative respects and protects science from those who would substitute radical ideology for the several hundred year-old scientific method. The real conservative has the courage of his convictions; he's not worried that science may tell us things we'd rather not hear. The real conservative lives in the reality-based world.

The real conservative wants to secure people and their property from disaster, from destruction by forces natural and manmade. He'd be the first to tell us that there's nothing conservative about denying climate change, or dismantling the EPA or DOE. He readily admits that sensible regulation preserves community values, health, and ways of life from corporate depredations; it's inherently conservative. He hails the new, well-paying jobs created by investments in green energy and by oversight of out-of-control financial markets.

The real conservative is shocked by the decline of manufacturing in the US, and by its attendant social ills. America has always been a maker and exporter of valuable things, not solely a consumer of cheap crap from hellish Third World sweatshops. The real conservative is scandalized that more and more of us don't produce real value, but instead work in finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE).

He campaigns against free trade agreements as thinly disguised corporate-designed vehicles for offshoring jobs, lowering labor and environmental standards, dumping industrial agricultural commodities, limiting innovation, and owning other peoples' precious assets. The real conservative is honest about NAFTA/CAFTA and their links to social unrest, job loss and illegal immigration.     

The real conservative does not flinch from declaring that tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs; he can face the reality of what the Reagan, Bush and Obama tax cuts did to the country he loves. He'd find nothing whatsoever conservative about how billionaires use puny capital gains, inheritance, and other tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share. There's nothing conservative about growing economic inequality.  

The real conservative is ashamed by the behavior of certain Republicans and Democrats in Congress regarding Social Security. Workers and their employers paid withholding taxes for decades so there'd be a little there when they retire or become disabled. This is not Big Government's money to squander, cut, or gamble away.    

The real conservative believes in the dignity of all people, rich and poor. He's embarrassed by colleagues who leave sick citizens with no recourse but the emergency room. He pushes Medicare for All as the economically conservative option, far cheaper than the alternatives. He rightly sees Obamacare as grievously inadequate, and "socialist" only in how it guarantees the profits of Big Pharma and Big Health Care. The real conservative negotiates like a bulldog with drug makers and health care providers for the best deals; this is the peoples' money after all, not Big Government's.  

The real conservative is very concerned about the uncontrolled corporate experiments known as GMOs and nanotechnology. He believes his grandfather's farm--small, diverse, self-reliant, organic--the model for feeding America and the world. He sees protecting the food supply from corporate adulteration a sacred conservative duty.   

The real conservative believes his religious faith a private matter. He feels no need to broadcast his piety, and finds distasteful those who do. The theocrats in his own party make him extremely uncomfortable. And he'll be damned before he signs some televangelist's phony "values pledge."  

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Steve Breyman teaches peace, environmental and media studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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