What's in a Name: Obama, Obamacons and Conservatives

I've found some of the coverage of Bruce Bartlett's article on Conservatives who like Senator Obama - Mr. Right? - New Republic - fascinating. I'm going to go over a few of the points raised, then take a break from blogging about the good Senator for a while. For those interested in Obamacons, Bruce was on NPR's Day to Day and and KCRW's To The Point today. I believe that there will be an article in this week's Sunday Times. I was thrilled to see how many comments were from people like me, who feel conservative, but like Obama - despite repeated denials by the GOP that we exist.

I was teasing about the Chablis. Any other chardonnay from Burgundy will do, though I'd much rather have a red zinfandel from Ridge. Friends kept bringing me bottles of Chablis, which for some reason they associated with Obama, and I was getting a little fed up - I actually am not particularly a fan of the Chablis style of wine-making. I tend not to take myself too seriously all the time, and it was the tongue-in-cheek part of a much longer explanation of why I like Senator Obama.
Onto the serious 'stuff' ...

First of all, we do not think that Obama is a conservative - but then again, nor do we think that President Bush has been a conservative.

Partly the problem is one of labels.

In NY a lot of my friends and colleagues call themselves 'conservatives' to differentiate themselves from the current Republican Party. By that they mean that they are fiscally conservative, socially liberal - "do what you like, just don't touch my money". We used to be 'Rockefeller Republican' but the term has fallen out of use, and RINOs is meant to be derogatory though some of us have embraced it.
In some ways this is the ground claimed by Libertarians, except that we don't all see the Libertarian party as a viable movement right now, or one that we want to get involved with. (I also see it as a little too extreme for me - I don't want drugs to be legalised, for example.)

Most of us are anti-abortion, but pro allowing very limited legal abortion. This is an issue people have raised repeatedly in comments and emails. I think that abortion is a tragedy, and best avoided; but forcing a woman to carry and give birth to a child that is the product of rape is far worse. Most women I know would not chose to have an abortion lightly. I do not believe that, should Senator Obama be elected president, although he is pro-choice, that he would force women to have abortions.

This has become a huge issue another group of people who call themselved conservative - sometimes 'real' conservatives - to differentiate themselves from the rank and file of the GOP. These people consider the GOP to be too liberally socially, and are sometimes described as social conservatives or the Religious Right.
They seem to be happy with big government, and see the role of government to be to interfere in our private lives like a nanny. (I learnt moral values from my parents, not the State.)

In short, we have two very different groups each describing themselves as conservatives, and this leads to confusion. The Right in the US is becoming increasingly splintered, and we need to find new ways of describing ourselves. If conservatives are having a hard time with it, imagine what problems the Obama campaign are having trying to work out where we stand!

Ben Domenech of Red State is a social conservative, with little time for fiscal conservatives. Or for conservatives who support Obama. I disagree with him on many issues, though I admire the Classical reference in his Washington Times comment on Obamacons:

Mr. Kmiec and his small band of Obamacons are the new Lotophagi, the "Lotus Eaters" of Homer's Odyssey. When landing on the territory of the cult-like Lotophagi, Ulysses's crew was given a flower to eat "which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus Eaters without thinking further of their return."

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