It's hard to imagine the frustration many smart conservatives must be feeling as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Joe the Plumber rise to take the ideological helm of the Republican Party.
The prestigious Party of Lincoln has historically been a bastion of economic sophistication and the principles of the founders of our great American experiment. It has now dissembled into a motley band of knee-jerk economic and social dimwits spewing red baiting nonsense and preying on the new found extreme ideological gullibility of conventional Republicans.
Although I supported Obama for President, I've always shared many of the concerns of American conservatives about the economy, most importantly that massive government spending tends to go wrong and tends to lead to unintended, usually undesirable consequences.
More importantly I very much agree with a cornerstone idea of true conservatives (noting there are few real conservatives left in the USA). We're spending too much now and have been for decades. The founders vision has largely been undermined by both the Democratic and Republican bureaucracy. The founders feared this sort of bureaucratic class would emerge without more citizen involvement and volunteerism than we have.
Ironically the wildly successful American experiment, grounded in the ideas of personal liberty, free speech, and entrepreneurialism created so much wealth that an extremely powerful bureaucratic class developed both in government and especially in the military where we spend more than every other nation combined. Many who call themselves conservatives (but are reckless spenders and therefore no friend of the founders) suggest that big spending is called for in the military, but they haven't done any homework. The founders would not support the massive military and defense spending both parties now tolerate as part of our ongoing reckless fiscal policy.
So, how in the world did conservatism and the Republican party get co-opted by the likes of Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity, and Joe the Plumber? Do people seriously think this parade of fools represents the best America has to offer? These people represent much of the worst in our great nation - hate, opportunism, and hypocrisy to name a few items.
I think much of this lies in the popularity of the "culture wars" where hot button themes like abortion and religion are mixed with politics to incite hatred and divisiveness. Limbaugh and Hannity have made a mint off of of admirers playing on their fears and hate. They are brilliant entertainers and great snake oil salesman, but they are not good representatives of our great country.
It is painful to watch smart conservatives like David Brooks and George Will get relatively little mainstream respect while buffoons like Limbaugh soak up attention, but Republicans are now reaping what they sowed in the last election.