Blogger: Conservatives’ Reaction to Obama’s Capitalism/Communism Comment Proves They Don’t Care About ‘Policy Realities’

Conservatives have objected in droves to a remark President Obama made this past week during his visit to Argentina. Addressing a gathering of young adults, Obama said, “In the past there’s been a sharp division…between capitalist and communist or socialist…but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works.”

The right’s hostile response, contended Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins in a Saturday post, is indicative of its longstanding “failure to acknowledge policy realities…The leadership and media organs of the conservative movement remain obsessed with promoting ideology over practicality so much that [Obama’s comment] somehow becomes a fundamental betrayal.” Long ago, wrote Atkins, “capitalism won the war of ideas and appropriately so—but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect system. Modern Republicans have totally lost sight of that fact.”

From Atkins’s post (bolding added):

For Republicans [Obama’s comment] is tantamount to heresy and treason…

…While the neoliberal and progressive wings of the Democratic Party are often at loggerheads, the arguments aren’t about pure ideology but about practicality…

Not so with Republicans. The GOP has devolved into a party that no longer cares about what works. The GOP is now divided between the Trumpists who (like Sanders’ supporters) believe that the system is broken and working against them while also (unlike Sanders’ supporters) raging against a complex multicultural and tolerant modernity, and the Cruzites who are wedded in an almost cult-like fashion to economically objectivist and Christian fundamentalist orthodoxy.

The result of the conservative movement’s failure to acknowledge policy realities can be seen most prominently in Kansas and Louisiana, where the red-state model of governance is failing catastrophically even as blue states like California are booming…

In the days of the Cold War when capitalism and communism vied for supremacy, there was an understanding that one’s preferred system of governance had to actually deliver results or the people would revolt and make a change. The openness of democracies and market economies allowed them to soften the sharp edges and mitigate the flaws of capitalism with a healthy dose of compensatory socialism, while the closed systems of state communism led to brutal totalitarian outcomes. So capitalism won the war of ideas and appropriately so—but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect system. Modern Republicans have totally lost sight of that fact…

The obvious human shortcomings of that belief system are what is allowing Trump to run a successful counterinsurgency within the GOP that tosses aside donors’ dearly held shibboleths about trade and taxation.

But for now, the leadership and media organs of the conservative movement remain obsessed with promoting ideology over practicality so much that [Obama’s comment] somehow becomes a fundamental betrayal.

That lack of flexibility and cultish devotion to ideological purity (in addition to an intentional reliance on racial and cultural resentment) is what ruined the Republican Party in the first place. Now it’s paying the price.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters