Generally I have nothing but contempt, fear and loathing for those who characterise themselves as conservative and even more so for the American variety whose vote generally goes to the Republican Party.
In fact, as the picture of David Koch above shows, in reality most of American politics on the right is dominated by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers whose malevolent influence on the world it is difficult to overstate. However, for those who are interested in finding out more there is a review of a book about them, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, reviewed in the New York Review of Books and Rolling Stone. Essentially, it is no coincidence that the agenda and ideology of the American right is so in tune with its billionaire paymasters.
However, the Koch agenda, supported by Murdoch and Fox News, has been sabotaged on the right by Donald Trump who by making a virtue of not taking money from the usual paymasters is able to (kind of) articulate the frustrations, rage and anger of those in America who believe (often mistakenly) that conservative politics speaks for them. As has now been said many times by many commentators, those who support Trump don’t have much sympathy or support for libertarian capitalism, have a fairly unsophisticated understanding of Biblical fundamentalism and, in truth, are more cannon fodder than soldiers in the American Right’s march towards total dominance. They support low taxes but not when their jobs and livelihood are affected. They hate big government, but quite like state largesse when it helps them. And most of all they know only too well who they hate, which, as Donald Trump, has made clear are mostly foreigners, immigrants and big business (when it tramples over them and their local community).
But let’s imagine for a moment that there is such a thing as a principled conservative in America. Let’s imagine that this is a person who has right-wing convictions as a result of agonised reflection, having seriously considered all the arguments for and against. This is a person whose views coincide with the current trends of American reactionary ideology, based on Heidegger’s and Ayn Rand’s notions of libertarianism, coloured with enough religious fundamentalism to not be a total nutjob, in support of the interests of big business but in a kind of responsible thoughtful way (not at all influenced by the propaganda of the Koch brothers), and a rational and indeed reasonable supporter of the Tea Party and yet not at all racist, xenophobic or mentally deficient.
How will this principled conservative, much feted by the conservative American media, choose to vote in the coming elections?
At the moment the choice is between the last remaining ‘establishment’ candidate, Marco Rubio, who is getting the lion’s share of the Koch funds and the two depraved and unprincipled populists, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Of Cruz and Trump, it is actually Cruz who is the most loathsome, and apparently just as much in person as he is ideologically. Even conservatives hate him. And Donald Trump is right to attack Ted Cruz for his underhand and deceitful campaigning. It’s just that Trump is the only one bold enough to say so.
So, this conservative looks like he can only vote for Marco Rubio unless he truly believes that an impenetrable wall paid for (willingly) by the Mexican government will solve their immigration issue and that depriving Americans of what little state sponsored health care will somehow benefit them (and not the Insurance companies). But Marco Rubio’s a real shit too: only looking moderate in comparison with the others. Not so long ago, his platform would have been considered ridiculously reactionary, but in an America inured to extremism by Fox News, the Bush presidency and the Koch’s billions (not to mention the complicity of America’s fawning media) the man seems the best chance there is for that rational, reasonably, deliberating conservative.
Though, of course, in truth, there’s only been one candidate in the US elections who isn’t a conservative and that person is Bernie Sanders.
Although I’d like to say otherwise, it looks less and less likely that Americans will, for the first time since FDR, be faced with a genuine choice in the coming presidential election.
So, I’d have thought that this principled conservative should vote, given the opportunity, for the least extreme conservative candidate in the American elections for the person who will most represent their interests and still actively promote the big businesses that finance her campaign.
And that conservative candidate can only be Hillary Clinton.