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The conservative candidate won

I was actually gearing up to write an open letter to downcast conservatives. But then William Saletan went out and did a much better job than I could have done (at Slate.com). He argues that conservatives---not modern-day Republicans, but true conservatives--should take heart: Obama is the best moderate conservative candidate we've had in decades.
Obama’s no right-winger. You might have serious issues with his Supreme Court justices or his moves on immigration or the Bush tax cuts. But you probably would have had similar issues with Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or Gerald Ford. Obama’s in the same mold as those guys. So don’t despair. Your country didn’t vote for a socialist tonight. It voted for the candidate of traditional Republican moderation. What should gall you, haunt you, and goad you to think about the future of your party is that that candidate wasn’t yours.
This is the thing that had me scratching my head for so long. Obama is pretty damn far from a liberal or progressive. I consider myself a progressive, and Obama has given me precious little to celebrate on issues such as the drug war, torture, indefinite detention, warrantless eavesdropping, drone-ing people, etc. Where did this caricature of a radical socialist muslim come from? It finally dawned on me when I watched Fox News the other night. The irony, of course, is that by casting Obama in this way left the Republican party completely flatfooted in their ability to counter him as he actually is. Hence the "surprising" landslide Tuesday night.

Just goes to show that you shouldn't live in an echo chamber. The problem is, I'd love to debate politics with conservatives, but I just can't find any true conservatives. The only "conservatives" I encounter are the weird modern-day Republicans whose worldview is shaped by either gun rights and zero taxes on one front, or abortion and teh gays on the social front. All the while the people they vote for only care about ensuring that the rich get richer while the poor have their safety nets pulled out.

As a somewhat related thought, an interesting point came up in a recent conversation with (liberal) friends. The idea is that people vote against their self interests because they vote according to what they aspire to be, not where they are. This really helps me understand tea partiers who protest against universal health care despite being the people (blue collar workers) who will need it the most if they lose their jobs. They're not voting against health care as people who need it, but as people who aspire to make the kinds of 1% money that would ensure they don't need it. Interesting notion.

Anyway, if anyone knows of any actual conservatives living in the Pasadena area, let me know. I'd like to have a beer with them. I think we'd have a lot to talk about as reasonable adults. But if you've ever entertained the notion that our president is a far-left, anti-American, teleprompter-needing socialist, well, I just feel bad for you son.

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