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New faces, same old song and dance

By Jordan Manalastas

Nov. 5, 2010 12:05 a.m.

This past election did not help win my heart back to politics.

Of greatest despair is the Republican Party’s sudden siege of the House of Representatives, thanks in no small part to the lovely folks partying like it’s Boston, 1773. I, too, have my suspicions of the Democratic machine, and not seldom have my apostasies sounded straight from the megaphones of a Tea Party rally.

Despite this, I do not smile at the prospects of a right-wing resurgence. The Republican Party and its Tea Party constituents have shown their true face this past election, and it is not a face pleasing to the eye. Despite the political right’s face-lift, this is still your father’s conservatism. And for young eyes sick of the stale, old classic conservatism ­”“ for those of us wary of government being our nanny ““ it is not a soothing sight.

Which is sad, considering the bad taste left in my mouth from the opposite team. The idea of a grassroots, spontaneous libertarian movement contra the Democratic powers that be is fascinating; it pleases every contrarian bone in my body. I know I am not alone. Last September, The New York Times mourned the Democrats’ recent inability to retain the jaded young voter.

But what was our alternative, our next big political fad? The Republican answer, the Tea Party, was but a cesspool of reactionary nay-saying. It was no different from commonplace conservatism.

The fact that the youth turnout was a meager 11 percent betrays more than just our apathy. More importantly, it is a sign of just how little America’s political puppets have to offer us.

Consider who has not unreasonably become the mouthpiece of the Tea Party movement: Sarah Palin. From the strangely suspect (Carly Fiorina) to the downright ditsy (Christine O’Donnell), Miss Palin’s choice of endorsement belied any attempt to distance the movement from the same old Party of Business, War and God.

To be fair, it has become fashionable even for libertarians to condemn the aforementioned. Yet are the so-called “true” libertarians any less unpleasant?

Rand Paul ““ son of libertarian superhero Ron Paul ““ has taken the Kentucky Senate seat, and holds a handsome platform against abortion, against gay marriage, and against (or at least not in favor of) medical marijuana. The Paul clan and its ilk do not oppose government infringement on individual rights so much as they oppose federal infringement on the states’ right to infringe. They are closet conservatives: sheep in wolves’ clothing.

It is no coincidence that these faux-libertarians should worship the Constitution so. They have a knack for venerating age-old, obsolete documents. Like all good conservatism, this new right-wing populism rests principally on faith in tradition, family and God. Their rhetoric of personal liberty is more accidental than it is fundamental.

So if anyone expected something new from the Grand Old Party, I regret to say that we have only more of the same. What may have seemed at first to be a viable, perhaps even attractive third-party alternative has but turned out to be a crude and cruel charade.

If we are to hope for a truly novel political path, might I suggest that we not look to anything with the word “conserve” as its root. Until then, we are stuck with what we voted for. And if anything has changed since the last right-wing revival, it is only the fanaticism with which they will be stubborn.

Think the new majority will provide change we can believe in?

E-mail Manalastas at [email protected]. Send general comments to [email protected].

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Jordan Manalastas
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