The preposterous re-emergence of Newt Gingrich provides a perfect opportunity for me to revisit a primary theme of mine.
How can it be that the supposedly religious, family-values obsessed Republican "base" can turn for salvation to a man who has led a spectacularly immoral life, both in public and in private? How can they at the same time embrace their lofty pretensions and unashamedly cling to one of the most revoltingly disgraceful public figures of our time?
This phenomenon reinforces a claim I have made for years: that American Conservatism as it exists today is about one single thing and nothing else: Cut My Taxes. Absolutely nothing motivates modern Conservatives but a desire to get their government services for free, and to not have to bear the intolerable thought that a single penny of their money is going to help anyone else- particularly you know who.
Then why the religion? The whole "Christian" thing is, I believe, nothing but a smoke screen, intended to fool not us, but themselves. Their ludicrous religious act (ludicrous in its utter contradiction of anything Jesus ever really advocated) is intended to allow them to buy into the fantasy that they hold the moral high ground, while they give themselves over to all-consuming greed. To be blunt, it is a lie they need to tell themselves.
To further this deception, they have turned away from the real religion of Christ, who spoke openly of their obligations to the poor, the sick, to prisoners and the strangers among us (things that required a lot from them,) and instead embrace a religion that is obsessed with abortion, gays, evolution, prayer in the schools- all things that demand absolutely no sacrifice of any kind on their part. By stridently advocating these largely meaningless causes, they can tell themselves that it is they who are the truly moral ones, while continuing on with their daily diet of greed and hatred. So it is easy for them to stand behind a moral monster like Newt, without a shred of discomfort.
A corollary to this phenomenon explains the utter irrationality and inconsistency with which they make their arguments. Their endless changing of positions seems strange to liberals, because liberals, by and large, say things because they believe them. In fact, Conservatives actually have no ideology at all. The statements they make and the positions they claim to support are simply whatever allows them to do what they have decided best serves their own self-interest. They have determined in advance what public positions will aid them in their endless quest to sate their greed, and will say anything to twist the facts to seem to support their positions.
A typical example is the currently fashionable "job creator" delusion, the Conservative claim that giving rich people more money by cutting their taxes will induce them to hire more people, whether their companies need them or not. They cannot even be accused of ignoring the obvious absurdity of this claim, because they do not believe it themselves; it merely provides a pretext for doing what they intend to do anyway, regardless of the proven disastrous effects of their policies.
I know, I know, most people will think this is far too harsh a view of Conservatives. I have been told so for a couple of decades now. Well, this interpretation of mine has so far proven to explain everything conservatives do, over and over again. Watch them in action, and see if you don't end up being convinced that this is the only real explanation of American Conservatism.