When I read the editorial by William Kristol it seemed incredulous to me that anyone living on the planet earth the last few decades could make such a claim. The first thing that I was struck by was the intentional vagueness of his statements. How exactly were the Conservatives right about jihadist, crime. welfare, education, and the family? What specific policies are you referring to Mr. Kristol? It is precisely this type of revisionist history that has kept America from moving into the future. It is these delusional recollections of calling wrong right and losing winning that more and more Americans are repudiating.
Unlike Mr. Kristol who only has fond if somewhat dubious memories of Conservative positions I would like to present the real picture of the Conservative agenda and how it has played out in America and the world. And you can decide for yourselves how right they have been. The problem for Mr. Kristol and the other Conservative apologists is that after you remove the rhetoric and outright falsehoods all you are left with are the facts. And based on the facts I would hardly call the Conservative agenda a ringing success.
The jihadist – I am assuming here that Mr. Kristol is referring to al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups. If this is in fact correct then wasn’t it Reagan who began his administration by trading arms for hostages with one of the current members of the axis of evil? Wasn’t it Reagan and Bush who armed and help form al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight the Russians? And wasn’t it Reagan and the first Bush who armed Saddam Hussein during the 80’s to make war with Iran? The only possible victory during this period was by the first Bush in developing the coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and having the good sense not to occupy Iraq. And let’s not forget the culmination of neo-con policies that led to the number of terrorist attacks increasing during the second Bush years and the creation of al Qaeda in Iraq. Then of course there’s that whole business of transferring attention and resources away from capturing Osama to invading and occupying Iraq. Yes sir, Mr. Kristol the conservatives were definitely right about the jihadists.
Crime – The right in crime I guess would be the ill-fated war on drugs that turned our police officers from members of the community into armed militias taking over the streets of our neighborhoods? Or maybe it’s the crime policies that have sought to privatize our prison system and has led to the largest incarceration percentage in the world? And again these policies culminate in the failed policy of George W. of politicizing the Justice Department so that instead of focusing on crime they were focusing on bogus voter fraud cases attempting to suppress the voting rights of many Americans.
Welfare – Conservatives have always viewed Social Programs as transferring wealth from the rich to the poor. These so-called Christians did not feel an obligation to provide for the neediest of their fellow citizens. They often would resort to racially charged rhetoric about “welfare queens” rather than any real data or facts to back their positions. You see it is easier to shirk your responsibility if you are able to demonize your victims. The problem I have with the Conservatives is not necessarily with their philosophy, but in how they apply it. They expect everyone else to pull themselves up by their boot straps, but then they refuse to provide any boot straps. Of course what Mr. Kristol failed to mention is where would we be today if W. Bush had been able to privatize Social Security?
Education – How the Conservatives could have been right on the department they wanted to abolish is beyond me. Are we to assume that replacing public education with vouchers has been an effective policy? Or how about pricing middle-class and poor children out of college by reducing grants and raising the cost of student loans? The Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind was an attempt to bankrupt public education by creating these standards and then not providing the funding to bring about any real change. It is one thing to identify failing schools; it is another to come up with solutions to failing schools.
It is precisely this selective amnesia by partisan hacks that have prevented this country from advancing past the same cultural arguments for the past 30 years. No, Mr. Kristol the Conservatives have not been right and once you begin to get back on your meds you will be able to see that in fact they have created fear, division, and strife for years to come.