The Three Main Types of American Conservatives

In the US, there are three types of conservatives:

1. Wealth/money Libertarian rich man’s philosophy type. Most corporate types are in on this one too. Rightwing philosophy has always been the philosophy of the rich and privileged.

This is so true through time and space that “rightwing populism” doesn’t make a lot of sense, and rightwing populists are generally not for the people at all. They are always fake populists working to get the votes of working class, poor and some middle class people by selling a phony populist message. Underneath the covers of rightwing populism is the same old “everything for the rich, nothing for anyone else” economics of the rich and privileged.

In the same sense, “grass roots conservative” is probably a phony term. Conservative movements can probably never be grassroots movements. Grassroots movements are movements of the poor, working class and sometimes the middle classes. They are not made up of corporations and rich and privileged, and upper middle class movements can never be either grassroots or populist.

The conservatives in Category 1 are folks who vote their pocketbook, so to speak. They think that voting for lower taxes, fewer services (which are paid for by taxes) and smaller government is in their best interest as they are monied, feel they don’t need or use government services and resent those who do, pay proportionately more taxes than others because they are wealthier, and feel they don’t get anything back for their tax money.

Instead, their taxes go to help poorer folks, who they disparage as lazy or unworthy. In a word, they’re opposed to sharing. If they are aligned with the corporate sector, they feel that government limits their corporate profits via taxation and regulation. In the case of Obamacare, the paranoia was coming from this group who had fancy and expensive private insurance plans.

This group believed that they would be forced to give up their fancy and privileged plans and participate in a socialized service for all, which would give them a lower standard of care. Of course, Obamacare did no such thing, but this was the fear. The privileged felt that they would have to give up their privileges.

If you really are rich and privileged or at least upper middle class or if you are deep into the corporate world, it may well make sense for you to vote in Category 1.

But the problem with Group 1 is that it is full of all sorts of morons who are poor, low income, working class or even middle class who look in the mirror and see the Elect in the Preterite reflection. They see themselves as members of the ruling class or the economically privileged, but they are anything but.

These voters are not behaving rationally. Instead, you are seeing wish fulfillment. I want to be rich, so I am rich. I fantasize that I am rich, so I am rich. I have the delusion that I am rich, so I psychotically believe that I am rich. And so forth.

This is the bedrock base of conservatism – a movement of the rich and privileged to preserve their power and privilege vis a vis others. Read one of the founding fathers of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, on the French Revolution to see what I am talking about. Scholars are probably correct that all modern conservatism flows from Burke in a sense.

2. Religious conservatives and fundamentalists. This is another longstanding trend of conservatism, but it’s become a mass movement only recently. In the past, in nearly all cultures, the rich wrapped themselves in religion as a way of ruling over the rest of society and justifying their wealth and privilege.

Hindu and Christian monarchies were often said to be ruling in God’s name. Hindu monarchies were channeling the God’s themselves. The Christian churches formed long and deep relationships with the rich, as the rich supported the Church as a way of brainwashing the masses into allowing monarchical rule by the rich. This is the basis for the Marxist beef against religion – its longstanding alliance with class and power and its use as a cudgel to beat the poor and workers with.

Here in the US, you have many folks who vote rightwing solely on religious grounds. As the rich often tend to be rather irreligious and are often supremely decadent and morally debased due to their lives of wealth, privilege and leisure, this marriage between Groups 1 and 2 is problematic from the start. How it works is that Group 1 proscribes extreme morality for the poor and workers. For the rich and monied? Wink wink. Well, they get to do whatever the fuck they want to!

Sadly, this nonsense rings true for many Americans. Deep down inside, they feel that the poor and working classes have no right to have fun or to sin. Sinning and living it up is a privilege earned via wealth. If you’re not rich, wear a sackcloth as your penance. If you’re bucks up, sniff coke, go to orgies, screw both sexes, buy whores, whatever. You earned it baby!

The rich are put in a bind by these folks because most rich people don’t give a flying fuck about churchly morality, and they like to live it up and sin. Rich people’s daughters, wives and girlfriends have unwanted pregnancies that need to be terminated. No matter the legal status of abortion, rich women have always and will always have easy access to pregnancy termination. Everyone knows this and winks at it.

So the rich run on holier than thou Bible-belting platforms to get the poorer suckers to vote for them. The trick is to run on this platform to get the sucker vote and then implement as little of the religious bullshit as policy as possible, so as not to upset the decadent rich too much. This has worked pretty well for some time now, but there’s always a contradiction.

Category 2 doesn’t have much in common with Category 1, as most religious people are low income, working class or at best middle class. In the US, the poorer you are, the more religious you are. While it makes sense for Category 2 folks to want to see religious morality proscribed by law, voting for the party of the rich doesn’t make any sense economically. It would be more sensible to vote for a pro working class and lower income party that pushed religious morality.

In the US, Categories 1 and 2 are allied, but it isn’t this way in most of the world.

Most Islamist parties are progressive on economics as a rule. It’s certainly the case with Hamas in Palestine, the religious party in Turkey and the rulers of Iran. Islamist parties tend to actually be populist and grassroots. Most people in these countries are religiously conservative, so the Islamists are just implementing popular will. Being populists, they often push pro-people and even socialist economics. Even pro-Khalifate Islamists attack capitalism as anti-Islamic.

Obviously, most in Group 2 get screwed economically for voting for Group 1, but they can’t seem to figure this out.

3. Redneck/rural types. Here in the US, we have a lot of folks who vote rightwing simply because they are redneck rural types who live in the country, listen to country music, hunt, fish, trap, live in small towns, etc. The men tend to be hypermasculine, and the women are traditional.

This is strictly a lifestyle voting choice. There is some overlap between this group and Group 2, since many rednecks are also Christian conservatives.

It’s safe to say that voting rightwing does absolutely zero for these folks and their redneck lifestyle, although they may obtain some benefits. Political parties can’t do anything about traditional lives and masculinity.

Voting rightwing doesn’t give you more animals to hunt and fish to catch. In fact, it’s the opposite, as Group 1 is predicated on an anti-environmental ethic that decimates animal populations, pollutes rivers, lakes and seas, overfishes the ocean, and pushes rampant development that destroys wild lands where fish and game live.

This group is also strongly opposed to government land ownership, and most the most and best preserved land is owned by the state, which keeps it fairly pristine and keeps development off of it.

Voting rightwing probably doesn’t help small rural towns, and Group 1 types are rich corporate folks who push a Manhattan financial sector urban based economics that devastates rural areas by neglect, disinvestment, offshoring, mass immigration and other methods.

It’s true that environmentalists do harm some rural communities by cracking down on mass overharvesting of timber, trying to limit horrific abuse of public lands by ranchers who overgraze them, putting restraints on destructive and dangerous oil and gas drilling and limitations on mining in certain areas.

Most of this has to do with public lands. White rural America wants to earn its living via mass abuse of our public lands, and the rest of us don’t want to go along with this charade anymore. You’re still pretty much free to graze and chop down trees as you see fit on your own private land.

Rednecks as a rule are poor, low income or working class folks. Voting for the economic project of Group 1, which is all about class war on their economic class, doesn’t make a lick of sense.

But voters in Category 3, more than those in the other two categories, are voting more for an idea or a notion than anything else. At least the Patriotards love war and sociopathic foreign policy, and that’s what they get for their vote. It’s dumb, but it’s a policy vote. Category 3 people hardly get the slightest thing for their vote.

Being a redneck “feels” conservative, so they vote conservative. They’re voting for a feeling. I’m a macho guy, and conservatism “feels” masculine to me, so I’m voting conservative. It only makes sense on a sensual level. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on a policy level, but these folks are not voting policy anyway. They’re voting with their feelings, with their hearts. The gears in their brains haven’t even engaged. They are in neutral.

4. Mom, the flag and apple pie: the Patriotards.

There is also the patriotic or “Patriotard” crowd. This crowd is all about nationalism, love of flag, country, traditionalism and the military. They often support military adventurism abroad all the way to raw imperialism. US military adventurism and imperial wars are undertaken by administrations, often conservative ones, to drum up support for these types. Many wars have been started and attacks on other countries have been initiated in order to gain support for the flag wavers.

Your average Patriotard is often poor, low income, working class or at best middle class. Imperialist wars for loot and glory don’t benefit his bottom line one bit. If anything, they hurt it as the state goes bankrupt and cuts back on pro-people policy to run around overseas on drop bombs on people’s heads.

The wars themselves don’t benefit the Patriotards physically, as young Patriotards and the children of the older ones are massacred or chewed up and sent back in tatters as fodder for the latest imperial warfare adventure of the rich.

Unless you work for a defense contractor or some corporation that is directly benefiting from imperial war, there’s really no policy sense in being a Patriotard. There’s no reason why Patriotards should vote for the economic project of the rich, as it just hurts most of them.

But Category 1 folks, the rich and privileged, use the Patriotards and imperial war as a sort of Romanesque spectacle to gin up support among poorer folks for the economics of the rich. Whether or to what degree the rich benefit from war itself is still up in the air. Many upper income folks and corporate types may see no direct benefit from war at all.

Many Patriotards are also very religious, so there is a lot of overlap with Category 2.

The Patriotard votes on a pure feelings basis almost as much as the rednecks. He’s not voting policy. He sees the flag, gets teary eyed, his heart starts pounding, and he votes rightwing. It’s a purely emotional response without a lot of logic behind it.

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Filed under Capitalism, Christianity, Conservatism, Economics, Environmentalism, Government, Hinduism, Imperialism, Islam, Left, Libertarianism, Marxism, Nationalism, Political Science, Politics, Religion, Socialism, US Politics, War

39 responses to “The Three Main Types of American Conservatives

  1. WMarkW

    At the risk of getting banned for saying something conservative, I’ll suggest there’s a fourth type that isn’t common anymore, or at least doesn’t have much power in the current Republican structure except when a front-running Republican presidential candidate needs a broad base (Bush the elder, Dole, Romney).

    We believe a preference conservativism is a necessary component of not allowing budgeting to get out of whack. The natural inclination of voters is to want stuff, and of politicians is to give it to them. If there’s no control on budgeting that’s stronger than the political inclination to spend (a balanced-budget amendment or backing by gold), a democracy will eventually get into a debt or currency crisis (Japan, Western Europe, and the USA have all done so.) A debt ceiling does not provide such a control, if the mechanism to raise it is no stronger than the political process that spends.

    In modern America, both parties are guilty. Our budgets became structurally imbalanced when the Republican party stopped being the fiscally conservative party, and started treating military spending as a kind of fiscal stimulus for the non-wealthy right wing (it provides jobs, education and health care to Southerners.) “Democracies perish when the people realize they can vote themselves money” is variously attributed. Today, we have two political parties that don’t represent anything but a different view on who gets the goodies.

    • Same thing as Group 1. The whole idea of limited government and opposition to government spending is based on the notion that one has plenty of money and hence does not need any social programs. This is all tied in with Group 1. If you feel as if you don’t need government for anything, of course you oppose government spending in general, want balanced budgets and all of that bullshit. If you don’t have a lot of money, there’s no point in being a fiscal conservative because you feel that you want and need government spending.

      • RJ Moore

        At the risk of sounding Hindutva, I fit mostly into #1 but not because I am rich or expect to be, but because a culture that doesn’t subsidize the underclass will have less of an underclass. Like Shaw’s Superman says, “I hate the poor so much I want to destroy them utterly.” I don’t have a lot of money, and I also don’t think too highly of the mercantile materialism of the Communist/Progressive Left or its mirror on the NeoCohen Right.

        That is to say, while people making money and building widgets is of course necessary, I think an elitist individualism which praises honor and idealism first and last is what we are missing in our de-aristocratized society. The ‘Aryan’ warrior spirit is not motivated by decreasing pasturage to conquer the world, it’s motivated by the desire to show off to peers and gain reputation as a BAMF who scorns the petty ape values of people who think with their bellies. It’s a transcendental and maybe anti-humanist value but one that’s provided a lot of ‘dark energy’ to drive th@@

    • Yes, you’re not allowed to promote fiscal conservatism on here.

      • Holy Frijole

        To Rob:
        want balanced budgets and all of that bullshit. ..

        Rob, it should be noted that Australia, Canada, Sweden, and Norway in 00s before the 2008 financial crisis and all with governments that are somewhat to quite a bit more left of center than the US ran balanced budgets and/or fiscal surpluses. There are multiple successful examples of states practicing prudent fiscal management while maintaining a robust social safety net.

        • The state is going to need to run deficits during recessions and downturns. You can’t provide a robust safety net with a mandate for balanced budgets. As long as debt as a % of GDP remains low or stable, debt is not really important at all. The government is not a household. And anyway, how many households balance their budgets?

        • WMarkW

          This is an important point — federal budgeting doesn’t use any time period longer than one year and shorter than never. It’s a failure of governance that the Baby Boom generation ran up a federal debt during their working lifetimes and are going to require additional outlays during their retirements. A household or business will run a debt one year to pay back during others; but government doesn’t use any such life-cycle.

    • WMarkW

      But a difference is, we don’t believe in libertarian economics that allows business to write its own rules. We support protecting the environment, workers, consumers and the financial system from the whims of the (obviously false) belief that markets will self-regulate.

      • WMarkW

        I wrote the above quickly while being called away.

        There’s a big difference between believing that free but regulated markets empowers economic creativity, and believing that simply being a market constitutes a form of regulation. The former is how Enron and others created the California power crisis of a decade ago, and why Greenspan let mortgages destroy the whole financial system.

        In the California case, as soon as a reg was put in place to stop abuses (like companies making round-trip purchases to themselves) the blackouts stopped. Until the 2000s decade, the mortgage industry had offered a variety of products for different needs under good a regulatory apparatus.

  2. Gay State Girl

    I’m probably a conservative along those lines.

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  4. James Schipper

    Dear Robert
    The patriots really don’t belong together with the religious conservatives. One can be a non-religious patriot. Indeed, one can be a socialist patriot. In the former Soviet Union, there was lots of talk about Soviet patriotism. In my book, patriotism and nationalism are two different things. Patriotism is terriotorial and nationalism is tribal. One can be a Belgian or Nigerian patriot but only a Flemish or Yoruba nationalist. Only in nation-states are patriotism and nationalism the same.

    Plutocracy, or what you call category I conservatism, has to be mixed with something else because the rich are always a minority. A party that frankly stated that its main goal is to protect and further the economic interests of the well-to-do would never get a majority in a political system in which every adult has the right to vote.

    However, if most rich people vote and most poor people don’t, then the rich can almost be a majority of voters. Let’s divide the electorate in 4 classes: the rich 25%, the poor 25%, the upper-middle 25% and the lower-middle 25%. If 80% of the rich, 60% of the upper-middle, 40% of the lower-middle and 20% of the poor voter, then the richest half has 70% of the votes and the richest quarter 40%.

    You talk too much in terms of a dychotomy of rich and poor. Those who are in the middle don’t necessarily identify with the poor and their interests can diverge from those of the poor. The best deal for those in the middle is high taxes on the rich, good universal social programs and very stingy programs for the poor.

    People who dream of high status are naturally inlined to identify more with those who are above them than with those who are below them. Ambitious NCOs will identify more with officers than with the privates with whom they may have much more in common. Equality looks attractive only to those who are in an inferior position. For those in a superior position, equality doesn’t look very good.

    The best policy for socialists is to reduce income equality but to allow considerable status difference. For a socialist, it should be better to have a situation in which the after-tax income of a general is 2.5 times larger than that of a private but in which a general has far higher status than a private than to have a situation in which a general has an after-tax income that is 6 times higher than that of a private but in which their status differences are much smaller.

    Regards. James

  5. I’m half redneck and half libertarian, with a little fascist thrown in.

    • RJ Moore

      I am a redneck with Brahmin tendencies, I think ‘anarcho-fascism’ is as good a term as any. That is, I think priests and craftsmen/traders shouldn’t rule, heroic individuals (if anyone) should. Basically, I want 19th Century America with a warrior caste; we shouldn’t have a President, we should have a Batman.

  6. Hwy91

    The whole arguement during the writing of the constitution was how to create a governemnt that was not centralized in one place that would be easily corruptible and be able to rule like a totalitarian type of system.

    The formula they came up with worked. What we have done since then is slowly push all the power back to one centralized place which makes it easy for a few people to control everything and everybody.

    People desire freedom and the ability to control their own destiny. It’s a natural inborn desire. Which means the pendulum will swing back and when it does our country is going to get chaotic because the citizens who live off the free money aren’t going to handle it very well.

    • You can’t criticize social spending on here. This is a socialist blog.

      • Earl Nesmith

        Far be it from someone to express opposition. I guess there has to be some shortcomings within the individuals to drive opposition to the idea that there are ‘some’ more equipt to ‘think’ and ‘provide’ for the ‘less enlightened’. Immersed in ‘day to day’ survival and existence leaves little time for them gather around the table with Intellecutals in Think Tanks to address the diversity and tolerance they promote must be acknowledged…but controlled.
        ‘Totalitarian’ comes to mind. But that’s just ‘me’.

    • Why is it that whenever rich people have freedom, it always ends up in restrictions for the poor.

  7. Holy Frijole

    To Rob:

    The state is going to need to run deficits during recessions and downturns. You can’t provide a robust safety net with a mandate for balanced budgets. As long as debt as a % of GDP remains low or stable, debt is not really important at all.

    We are agreement about balanced budgets during downturns.. if you follow Keynesian philosophy it basically calls for surpluses during good times (One of the principals of a progressive tax code is that a surplus would occur naturally when the economy recovered…) to keep the overall debt within prescribed levels when the next downturn arrives.

    While so called “socialist” states such as Sweden and Norway were running budget surpluses in the 00s, Dick Cheney was claiming “deficits don’t matter..”

    As it stands Sweden is ran a budget surplus last year:

  8. Holy Frijole

    Sorry about the grammatical errors.. overall my point is that prudent spending is by no means exclusively the domain of the right. (and in the case of Republican vs Democratic US Presidents.. basically the opposite for the past 3 or so decades…considering that Bush I, Bush II, and Reagan ran markedly higher budget deficits than Clinton and Carter )

  9. Hwy91

    You have to look at who was ultimately in charge of the purse strings during those presidencies. Was the Senate and Congress controlled by the same party as the Presidents. There are a lot of factors at play here. The true test is to look at a time when a President had a senate and congress that was controlled by the same party is he was.

    You also have to look and see if any major conflicts are disasters happened during that term.

    • Dano

      The authors of the constitution favored a central govt. which was in control of the state govts because, as they pointed out in the federalist papers, state govts are far more vulnerable to corruption.
      The majority of a Americans polled consistently believe we should be doing more for the poor, not less.
      As for the presidential example asked for, the poor and working class saw their position improved more than any other time when FDR was president. He also gave us the most successful liberal program we’ve ever seen…social security. Thats why the right has been trying to destroy it consrantly, it’s glaring success sticks in their craw.
      BTW great summary of the diff kinds of conservatives Robert, it was dead accurate.

  10. Hwy91

    It just goes to show you how different people can read the same letters and documents and come up with two different interpretations.

    What happened during FDR’s presidency that allowed poverty rates to drop?
    After that event was over (1946) then what happened to the poverty numbers?

  11. dano bivins

    No, it shows you how some people can ignore direct, unambiguous passages that clearly convey the desire to place ultimate power in the central government.
    Conservatives excell at that sort of thing.
    FDR raised the country out of the great depression. You were unaware of that? He made it possible for the country’s poor and marginalized to actually survive and live a decent life, as opposed to scratching in the dirt for crumbs.
    The wealthy in America, up to that point, were happy to let families and the elderly just die in misery and neglect. The same for workers…the rich happily allowed their workers to die and be maimed on the job…and payd them wages that didn’t allow them to fill their stomachs, or their kids’ stomachs. America’s rich didn’t give a shit about anybody, or anything, except their daughters $20,000 sweet 16 birthday party. Without the force of law, ignored by the states but addressed by the fed, things today would be exactly the same.
    FDR threw something to the real Americans.
    My preference would’ve been to use the methods used in the French Revolution…barges and all…but that’s me.
    Lesson over.

  12. Hwy91

    WOW! I don’t insult your point of view I just don’t agree with it. I am not wealthy. Heck I’m not even middle class. I am a happy person and I respect other peoples point of views. I possess a optimistic outlook on life now and after I leave this world. I aplogize if I offended you.

  13. dano bivins

    ZOOKS! I merely posted a simple fact and followed it with my opinion.
    Don’t be so intensely hypersensitive. Grow a little skin.
    The federalist papers had to be simple and direct, they were meant to inform a populace that was barely literate and mostly farmers.
    I’m glad you’re a happy person, I am too. Deleriously.

  14. Mab

    Since humans are so flawed, how do Marxists change/persuade such persons to accept and believe Marxist philosophy as truth? I ask honestly, because the tone of your rhetoric seems to be very non-persuasive in a philosophical way via insulting rhetoric. You are ‘preaching to the choir.’ Beyond ‘totalitarianism’ is there a more persuasive way to appeal to such persons who seem to be obviously less intelligent and in a way that they would understand?

    From an economic standpoint, it seems to me the ‘first world’ is in economic trouble and are buying few of our treasuries. Other than printing dollars is there a way for the government to increase the financial well-being of the poor? I’m very middle class in regards to financial wealth and as inflation increases (?due to deflation in the value of the dollar) I could become lower middle class financially and quickly. And since the ‘middle class levels’ seem to be the majority, does that mean that for government income(taxes) that taxes need to be raised even for middle/lower class people? The ‘elites’ are enormously more wealthy but they are also enormously more able to ‘protect’ their wealth. I would be laughed at if I tried to ‘off-shore’ or invest my meager savings to protect it. There certainly wouldn’t be a useful income from the amount to make any meaningful benefit after investment expenses were paid.

    I am at a loss to answer either question with any logical answer. Thanks for any philosophical/economic answer. I’m just flawed in thinking that I can maintain my own self-interested support in at least a lower class lifestyle without more financial support (social security) than I have now. That is my reality. How do we(you) define real outcome from a Marxist/financial perspective that is even probable. Changing reality up or down in financial terms seems expensive either way. A majority of ‘someones’ have to lose or gain and ‘who decides what is equitable’ and how does ‘equity’ become acceptable among all the classes? The answers seem unfathomable to me. Thanks. I hope my comments/questions are not unfathomable themselves.

  15. Aaron

    I’m probably closest to Group 2, which is kind of unusual because I’m not Christian and I don’t believe in God. But I want America to more traditionally Anglo-Protestant. Culturally, of course, not racially – I know Anglo-Saxons are a minority. I’ve felt that way for a long time.

    I think that more than anything else, living in Israel changed me from a Group 1, libertarianish conservative into a cultural, “Christian” conservative – a Buchananite, even though I’m not super fond of Pat Buchanan himself.

  16. Aaron

    Typo: “I want America to BE more traditionally Anglo-Protestant.”

  17. Aaron

    P.S. Speaking of traditionally Anglo-Protestant America, right now I’m reading Hannah Arendt, On Revolution. The book is basically a comparison of the French and American revolutions from the perspective of history and, more deeply, political theory. She likes the American one. Apparently that pissed off a lot of her leftist friends at the time.

  18. dano bivins

    The French one had a more lasting effect.

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  20. Scott

    Funny thing about Liberal dumb asses like the author, is that they are so brainwashed by the establishment, or just so mentally challenged that they cannot buy a clue with a gold card. Take this as a laughable exercise in “moron speak”. This “person” is yet another slave to the Socialists, and not worthy of notice or respect. A REAL retard.

      • i dont see how you can be brain washed by the establishment to be left wing. all of the western establishment, particularly in the english speaking world is very far to the right. if you were brain washed by the establishment, you would believe such stupid things like “capitalism works”, if you work hard, you will become rich, the west is going around the world slaughtering people for freedom and democracy, the west is imposing fascist laws to fight teror, others hate us for our freedom, etc. all the stupid idiotic lies produced by the establishment. i mean there lots of controlled opposition, but i would say that the majority of the funds and facilities are used to brain wash people to think that the right wing free market works, and that we should not challenge or complain about the system. i doubt anyone who graduates from such establishment schools like harvard or yale would have genuine “liberal” ideas without the purpose, or intent to execute controlled dissent.

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