Conservative Values?

Mitch McConnell spoke last Friday to an annual evangelical-based conference for “voters of faith,” at which he was quoted as saying the following:

 In my view, the last 16 months have been the single best period for conservative values since I came to Washington.


Let’s leave aside the dubious “conservative values” of a thrice-married President who boasts of grabbing women’s genitals and who lies whenever his lips move. Instead, let’s look at the policies that have been put in place, either legislatively or through executive branch action, during the past sixteen months.

(I would have begun with McConnell’s own successful effort to trash the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate “advise and consent” to Presidential Supreme Court appointments, but that occurred outside the sixteen-month window.)

Back when I was a Republican, “conservative values” began with fiscal prudence and a discomfort with debt. Passage of a tax bill that adds trillions of dollars to the national debt in order to reward the wealthy doesn’t fall within the definition of fiscal prudence.

While the Grand Old Party has always included an undercurrent of bigotry (an undercurrent from which Democrats weren’t exempt), after William F. Buckley and other intellectuals made the case that the Birchers and anti-Semites and their ilk should be banished from influence, candidates who still wanted to appeal to that constituency did so through “dog whistles.” This Administration and a growing number of Republican candidates have abandoned that presumed “subtlety” for full-throated racism and misogyny. (Is David Duke’s support of Trump and Trumpism evidence of “conservative values”?)

I also remember respect for law and order being central to conservatism. Is Trump’s wholly unjustified attack on the FBI–not to mention the rule of law– part of that triumph of conservative values?

And how about family values? Granted, the phrase was usually a cover for some pretty discriminatory attitudes, but to the extent that the GOP and conservatives truly believe in the sanctity of marriage and the value of motherhood, how do those beliefs square with the practice of ripping children out of their mothers’ arms at the border? (As several people have pointed out, these families are making perfectly legal applications for refugee status; they aren’t sneaking across the border.)

Evangelical conservatives have always been leery of science, but secular conservatives and those who worship at less fundamentalist churches have valued education and scientific knowledge. The current Administration and GOP legislators reject evolution, dismiss climate science and refuse to take scientific advice on other topics.

Conservatives have previously been steadfast in their support of free markets. Trump has consistently attacked free trade, and has now imposed economically-damaging tariffs (on our friends!) that are likely to start a trade war. McConnell’s “conservatives” have remained mute.

And what about the time-honored conservative value of a strong national defense? Republican legislators have been complicit as Trump has damaged relations with our allies, trashed NATO,  cozied up to some of the world’s worst dictators, ignored warnings from America’s Intelligence agencies and appeared to be Vladimir Putin’s lap-dog.

Genuine conservatives value traditional standards of behavior and order. They believe in conserving the rules that have served us in the past. Liberals may disagree with conservatives about the proper role of government or the choice of rules to conserve, but those are principled differences of opinion between principled individuals whose values differ.

I don’t know what to call the “values” of the people running this country right now, assuming they have any, but whatever they are, they are neither conservative nor liberal. To coin a phrase, they’re deplorable.


  1. I’ve been swapping the phrase “conservative values” with “white patriarchy” for a while now. It works wonders for clearing up the cognitive dissonance.

  2. Well played, Steve, well played. 🙂

    Sheila writes, “I don’t know what to call the “values” of the people running this country right now, assuming they have any, but whatever they are, they are neither conservative nor liberal. To coin a phrase, they’re deplorable.”

    Many brilliant journalists and writers have called the “leaders” in D.C., “sociopaths.”

    One characterized as a sociopath generally lack a conscience which serves politicians and CEOs very well in our economic and political climate.

    Another primary characteristic is “lack of empathy.”

    When accepting millions from billionaires to do their bidding, a conscience would interfere with most of their policies passed in the last several decades. It’s only gotten worse and it won’t improve anytime soon.

    Capitalism is extractive and predatory. It works against the human spirit which is why our pharmaceutical conglomerates make trillions off anti-depression and anti-anxiety pills. Look at our suicide rates!

    Einstein called capitalism evil for a reason. When society is served by sociopaths who lack empathy, our direction is rather predictable.

  3. As I see it, the Republicans are infected with an incurable disease the symptoms of which cause the visage to wince sourly, the brain to slam shut, the voice to intone (Pence) medievally, and the posture and other parts to present stiffily erect (Trump) all the while reciting the same-old, same-old in self-righteous repetitions plagiarized from ancient and new wordsmiths enabling them to fool all of the people all of the time with their broadcasting of their “faith” while the foolish, unsuspecting, adopt it as their own proudly corrupting the word “conservative”.
    You may know the source of this virulence. Is it possible it originated at camp meetings and fundamentalist churches or only from the halls of Congress, or is there widespread misinterpretation of Scripture? I can personally attest that it did NOT originate in foxholes, though you may find it in the sites of your AK47.

  4. Thanks, Todd, for including me in your compliments. I’ve written 4 books on the subject. I don’t know if they’re brilliant, but they certainly address the issues you do.

    As for McConnell…. He’s nothing more than a stooge/whore for the Koch brothers. He’s been taking their money for over 20 years and forming his so-called conservative agenda accordingly. All McConnell does is try to keep Republicans winning elections. After that? Who cares? He is part of the cabal of incompetence and perversion of ANY values other than staying in office.

    When Mitch McConnell opens his mouth, it’s usually not for anyone’s benefit but his own and what passes for the Republican Party. They care not a whit about the country and must be removed from office – to the person – as soon as possible.

  5. Watching the outcome of the infamous nuclear summit from yesterday; I am waiting for an explanation or description of the phrase Trump used to “end military exercises”. Were there special, specific, aimed at North Korea “military exercises” they were made aware of but not made available to the American public? Otherwise; that was another of his lies, military exercises are an ongoing part of all military training. Under Ballard and with his permission; my neighborhood was subjected to terrifying military exercises overhead and on the grounds of the Raytheon facility one block from my home. Part of those exercised carried out during severe thunderstorms with tornado warnings in the area as ground bombs were set off. But that is another issue.

    I can return to those actual “thrilling days of yesteryear” under the 16 years of leadership of Mayor Bill Hudnut; this city saw more quality progress for less money during his administration. The Hoosier Dome, bringing the Colts here was an exciting and profitable accomplishment at that time. I worked with those creating Circle Centre Mall (which became a different entity entirely under Herr Goldsmith upon completion); the addition of Thomson Electronics provided jobs for residents, as did the United Airlines Maintenance Hub and the U.S. Postal Service Hub at the Indianapolis International Airport. The status today of the Mall is foundering and the anchor facility appears to be the factory situation of publishing the Indianapolis Star; the Hoosier Dome is gone, replaced by Lucas Oil Stadium for which our CIB uses 30% of its tax provided budget to maintain. Ballard added pro sports teams he personally enjoys; those teams and their arenas or playing fields an additional drain on the CIB. Thomson Electronics, both Hubs at the airport are gone and the airport has been replaced. There is nothing “conservative” creatively or economically about these decisions and drains on the local tax budget. Not to mention Indiana having the “honor” of the most voucher students in the nation; continuously draining our public education tax dollars.

    In 1972, under Mayor Richard Lugar; racism, bigotry, sexism, nepotism, cronyism, political patronage and the required “donation” of 2% of our salary to the Republican party (after swearing to and signing a Loyalty Oath to be hired), paid in cash by the end of every payday were standard practices. Mayor Hudnut changed the “face” of city employees in color, nationality and gender; Sheila was one of them. That 2% “donation” disappeared; per Mayor Hudnut, it was our paycheck to do with as we chose, Republicans would happily accept any actual donations offered. Mayor Hudnut was a Mayor of the People; could be seen on city streets, in the City-County Building and in downtown businesses and always stopped to talk to his city residents who had questions for him.

    Then came the destructive years of Goldsmith (a Jew known throughout the C-C Building as Little Hitler) and the beginning of the local change of the Republican party which was a microcosm of the Nixon administration and a glimpse of what we have been living with since those days. Today’s oligarchic, Fascist, undemocratic party initially infected this country and now has spread to other parts of the world; our national epidemic is fast become a destructive pandemic of mendacity, avarice and greed with no end in sight. All three of these men were members and representative of the Republican party; but could not be more different in their leadership and goals for this city and the party at large. We will never get answers to the questions of how and why we have reached our current frightening and embarrassing place among civilized nations around the globe.

    “I don’t know what to call the “values” of the people running this country right now, assuming they have any, but whatever they are, they are neither conservative nor liberal. To coin a phrase, they’re deplorable.”

    The term “deplorable” is too weak to get the message across but there doesn’t seem to be another descriptive word strong enough to get the message across to ourselves or to our once strong allies.

  6. “I don’t know what to call the “values” of the people running this country right now, assuming they have any, but whatever they are, they are neither conservative nor liberal.”

    Specifically, they are Nazi values, and we are facing a new, more covert, strain of what has previously been called the HITLER VIRUS. The only possible remedy is to deal with it like any other lethal virus which means tracking the virus back to its GROUND ZERO PLATFORM. Since it has now spread across the Atlantic, it is no longer just an EPIDEMIC, but a much larger PANDEMIC problem.

    For an effective organizational response, see my website at which has been online since 2011.

  7. “Many brilliant journalists and writers have called the “leaders” in D.C., “sociopaths.”

    Todd; the American Psychiatric Association ordered all members not to offer public diagnoses of Trump in keeping with the “Goldwater Rule” which is not an actual rule. This order has turned the inmates loose and they are now running this asylum. But 27 of their members published “The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump” have provided medical and psychiatric terms which apply to Trump without actually diagnosing his mental instability. We need to thank those journalists and writers for their on-target “diagnosis”; thank you for providing it here.

  8. If you want to know what happened to Republicans, I heartily recommend the Mark Twain short story, “The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut.” Start small, but with persistent bad acts, one can eliminate the conscience altogether.

    The tax give-away was act one of a three act play. Act two is the sudden recognition that we cannot live with such huge deficits. Act three is we eliminate first Medicaid, then Medicare, then in a final act of desperation to save the Republic, we must end Social Security. As the curtain falls, the robber barons light cigars and walk arm in arm with Mitch off stage left.

    Republicans always play the long con.

  9. Republican values these days? Let me give you four from my list.

    1. Money and all the material things it can buy.
    2. The “appearance” of honesty, integrity, and piety.
    3. The ability to pay lip service to decency while screwing over others.
    4. Being white. Being Christian. Being male.

  10. Two things are required to reverse the de-volvement of the Koch (et. al.) owned Republican party. These are the re-institution of the Fairness Doctrine and the overturning and banishing to the dustbin of history of Citizens United–perhaps the worst SCOTUS decision since Dred Scott. The solution requires not only a Democrat majority in both houses but the will to act in a first-things-first manner. This cannot happen too soon. Minute by minute Trump, his minions, and thousands or his ignorant and malevolent supports, gain strength with every passing day. November is the date–and if we fail to act then we are doomed. Vote blue even if it gags you to do it. Failure to do so will lead to catastrophe.

  11. Theresa,

    You pretty much nail it. Embedded in all these things is their moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy.

  12. I was working out a really florid response, but then I scrolled down. No need. Steve nailed it. Those have become conservative values. No governing to ’em. Just staying in control.

  13. Theresa,

    You made a good list about republican values, however, I must take issue with item No. 2 on your list. They don’t even care about “appearance” anymore.

  14. Conservatism ended a long time ago. People still claim that as a title meaning “cheap” but there are no conservatives left, the fact that being cheap isn’t even a viable position to take revealed the hollow trunk of that tree.

    We’re down to authoritarians and liberals, the former based on power for the privileged and the latter based on freedom for all based on the acceptance that we all have equal rights among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Our problem is that we are human and want life to give us stuff so people who have found ways to do that exceptionally well accumulate followings of those who hope to do the same any way they can anytime they can any place they can. Hence authoritarianism is an easy sell. Liberalism seems good too in the abstract but then there is that stuff and who’s going to give it to me?

    Americans told each other that we are exceptionally noble beings to the point we thought we didn’t have to try to be noble anymore, we are born that way.

    At other times in history our back slide would have merely led us to ordinary but at this time it’s liable to be much more tragic because the earth is tired of feeding and housing us and there will be a nest cleaning coming up which will sort out which tribes carry on. Authoritarians expect power to prevail and it might. The problem is that power always fails. People are inherently liberal and once we get sick of being pushed around we invent ways to push back.

    I wish that I was going to see the end of the story as I’m sure that it will be so much different than our lives I’m afraid that we can’t even imagine it.

  15. Pete has it figured out. The GOP is not a party; it is a front for the superrich, and if our name is Koch, Mercer or Adelson or if we are a CEO or devisee of a rich predecessor we should vote Republican because that front’s financed positions are in our best interests – all the rest of us should vote for whatever party is in opposition in favor of the greater good. What rich GOP voters do not foresee is that once fascism (via its seizure of private assets and local levers of power) becomes so entrenched that it doesn’t need them or their money anymore that they, too, will be totally disenfranchised and subject to late night calls from the gestapo just like We the People.
    That party not only has no conservative values; it has no values at all and as I frequently write, is headed for Whigdom, from whence it arose. Sans values, and given demographic realities, the future looks bright for the opposition party (if their members get off the couch this November and are not otherwise suppressed out of contention by state legislatures and the Supreme Court).

  16. Bravo…

    I agree with everything except these folks still identify as GOP, and the GOP coddles them and oozes money through even to pay DJT’s legal bills. The Talibangelists are controlling our courts, our access to Planned Parenthood, our budget. The ACLU now acts as our DOJ. The DOJ acts as the SS.

    So yes, they are part of the Republican Party. When this falls apart, I suspect that many of the members of Congress are involved. We must end. Citizen’s United. Put a limit on campaign spending, one that is fair across the board, based on the office sought. These anonymous PACs are funded by the 1%, and the GOP made sure to put some money back in their pockets.

    NK? What a joke. Nothing will happen. It’s a shitstorm intended to cover up the fact that the NRA met with Russians during the campaign, and donated record numbers of funds to DJT and other “like minded” Republicans. Stormy, Michael, Paul…. But MSM is blasting “historical” meeting.

    Time to watch Fire in Winter again.

  17. Wray McCalester, Once again my comment has been blocked. Very annoying.

    Me too.

  18. As a democrat from the beginning of my life, and as an idialistic liberal in my positions, I nevertheless have not lost sight that the goal of a political party is to win elections. Most of those who share my views end up not voting and thus allowing the Republicans, who understand that the goal is to win elections, to take control of our government. So while we argue about which strategy for governing is more perfect, those on the other side take control and screw us like they never have before. So for God sake, remember that if just half of those who have not been voting do vote, we will take back the house and the senate. Think and work for only one thing. GOTV. There is nothing else worth our time. We have tools like we have never had before.

  19. Laying siege to the king’s castle in November is all that we can do. Two years without an executive cuts in half the damage the next President will have to repair.

  20. Trump is devoid of any values beyond self-glorification. Ryan and McConnell have decided that’s good enough for them, so they’ve abandoned all of the Republican values they once loudly proclaimed. But since they have no way to glorify themselves, they have adopted the principle of perpetuation of Republican control of the government as this week’s unalterable belief. After Singapore, Trump will blather on incessantly about how he has brought “peace in our time,” and they will augment his blather. If he returns this evening to calling Kim “little rocket man,” they will perform an instant 180 to highlight the president’s brilliant flexibility to the deplorables who adore him.

    Until after the 2018 elections, Trump is incapable of performing any act or of mouthing any obscenity that offends his sycophants, and then only if he has clearly hurt the party. Using “values ” and “Republicans” in the same sentence is an oxymoron that has earned a special place in hell. Trump’s utter amorality is perfectly matched by that of his strongest supporters.

  21. Traits of authoritarian personalities:
    1. Rigid, unthinking adherence to conventional, middle-class ideas of right and wrong.

    2. Respect for and submission to authority – parents, teachers, religion, bosses, or any leader. This includes a desire for a strong leader and for followers to revere the leader, following him (seldom her) blindly. There is an emphasis on following rules and regulations, on law and order. Everyone has a proper role to play, including gender role.

    3. They take their anger out on someone safe. In an authoritarian environment (family, religion, school, peer group, government), the compliant, subservient, unquestioning follower stores up unexpressed anger at the authority. The hostility can’t be expressed towards the authority, however, so it is displaced to an outsider who is different – a scapegoat.

    4. They can’t trust people. They believe “people who are different are no good.” Such a negative view of people leads to the conclusion that harsh laws and a strong police or army are necessary.

    5. Because they feel weak, authoritarian personalities believe it is important to have a powerful leader and to be part of a powerful group. The successful, the powerful, the leaders are to be held in awe.

    6. Over-simplified thinking. If our great leaders and our enormous government tells us what to do, if our God and our religion directs our lives, then we don’t have to take responsibility for thinking or deciding. We just do what we are told.

    7. Guard against dangerous ideas. They believe an original thinker is dangerous; he/she will think differently.

    8. I’m pure, others are evil. They become paranoid, believing many people want to hurt them

    9. Ethnocentrism: Everything of mine is better than yours – my country, my religion, my kind of people, my family, my self. Research has also shown the authoritarian is more prejudiced and more prone to punish people (including their own children) to get them to work harder or to do “right” (Byrne & Kelley, 1981).
    I was going to say the Elements of Authoritarianism is a thread in our American History, but it is more like a steel cable, which lurks in our society. Given these elements of authoritarianism, the blind obedience of Evangelicals to a hierarchical, male dominated culture is no surprise.

  22. I find this blog and the comments made herein sufficiently thought provoking, that I sometimes, only later in the day, summon up the contribution I wish to make.

    We are losing the battle of reason with faith.

  23. The list of traits posted from Monotonous Languor seem to define the Ideals of the Democratic party perfectly.

  24. Well,Carolyn Ford-Hoover,I agree. The Democratic Party has become this way because they want to abandon the true left and are using such tenets/messaging to garner support from suburban Republicans. The Democratic Party is the party of inclusion as long as you’re a suburban Republican. They have become Republican-lite.

    Meanwhile,Democrat Donors are pushing Mark Warner to run…

    Here’s a cartoon from Ted Rall that encapsulates it all so very correctly..

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