If the soul of the Republican Party shifted from the Northeast to the Deep South in the second half the 20th century, the "big drama" now in "Republican-land" is "a shift away from Southern-style conservatism to more of a Western variety," argues Jacob Weisberg in Newsweek. You can trace this shift from President George H.W. Bush to President George W. Bush to today's crop of "cowboy constitutionalists," represented by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rand Paul. This has made the GOP "fun to watch lately," Weisberg says, but it's "unlikely to prove a winning philosophy for republicans beyond 2010." Here's an excerpt:
"On many issues, such as guns, taxes, and immigration, Southern and Western conservatives come out in the same place. They get there, however, in different ways. The fundamental distinction is between a politics based on social and cultural issues, and one based on economics. Southern conservatism cares about government’s moral stance but doesn’t mind when it spends freely on behalf of its constituents. Western conservatism, by contrast, is soft-libertarian and wants government out of people’s way. Southern Republicans are guided by the Bible. Western Republicans read the Constitution. Seen in historical terms, it’s the difference between a movement descended from George Wallace and one that looks back to Barry Goldwater...
"The new Western conservatism, though, is not simply a reincarnation of the Goldwater version. Lacking anticommunism as an organizing principle, it has been forced to invent a demon, depicting Obama’s centrist liberalism as socialism with an American face..."
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