Friday, September 07, 2007

Republican of the Week: John Dean

Actually, he may only be an ex-Republican.

It's just that I'm so desperate to find a Republican to praise, that this week, I've resorted to selecting a possible ex-Republican.

I've looked into this and have not ascertained if Dean still is registered as a Republican. All that is certifiable is that he once was very Republican. (Many of us were.)

  • He volunteered to write position papers on crime for Nixon's presidential campaign in 1968.
  • The following year he became an Associate Deputy at the office of the Attorney General of the United States in the Nixon administration.
  • White House Counsel to U.S. President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973.
  • Dean pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice before Watergate trial judge John Sirica on November 30, 1973 and served time.
  • He launched a career in investment banking until 2000, when he made his part-time night job - writing - his full time day job.
That has culminated in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. He has undertaken this week to summarize his book in his web pages, FindLaw. He anticipates a three-part series entitled Understanding the Contemporary Republican Party: Authoritarians Have Taken Control. In the first of these, Dean writes:
Most conservatives today do not believe that conservatism can or should be defined. They claim that it not an ideology, but rather merely an attitude. . . .

Conservatives once looked to the past for what it could teach about the present and the future. Early conservatives were traditionalists or libertarians, or a bit of both. Today, however, there are religious conservatives, economic conservatives, social conservatives, cultural conservatives, neoconservatives, traditional conservatives, and a number of other factions.

Within these factions, there is a good amount of inconsistency and variety, but the movement has long been held together through the power of negative thinking. The glue of the movement is in its perceived enemies. Conservatives once found a common concern with respect to their excessive concern about communism (not that liberals and progressive were not concerned as well, but they were neither paranoid nor willing to mount witch hunts). When communism was no longer a threat, the dysfunctional conservative movement rallied around its members' common opposition to anything they perceived as liberal. (This was, in effect, any point of view that differed from their own, whether it was liberal or not.)

To understanding conservatives thinking, it is important to examine not merely what conservatives believe, but also why they believe it.
Based upon exacting empirical research, The Authoritarians, by Bob Altemeyer, (a Yale and Carnegie-Mellon-trained social psychologist based at the University of Manitoba), Dean concludes that the modern Republican has an authoritarian personality:
While not all conservatives are authoritarians, all highly authoritarian personalities are political conservatives.

. . . .There are two types of authoritarians: leaders (the few) and followers (the many). . . . authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral.
All of which goes a long way toward explaining why I've had such difficulty in finding Republicans to praise who measure up to Barry Goldwater's principled conservatism.

5 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Vigilante said...

I appreciate Wizard's recommendation of Ron Paul to be the winner of this week's Barry Goldwater Award for Genuine Conservatism (BGAGC). It's based upon Congressman Paul's performance in the GOP debate Wednesday night. The only problem is that I have already bestowed the BGAGC upon Ron Paul's deserving head. I feel a need to spread praise as widely as possible. Paul did have the distinction of getting the greatest applause at the debate and, I understand that he's leading the pack in the listeners' straw poll at Faux News at 35% favorable - much to the dismay of management.

Going forward, I welcome recommendations from readers about promising Republicans. Finding them is 'hard work', and I need help.

9/06/2007 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger adynaton said...

OK, I'm lazy. Hats off to Dean where hats are due off, but how about doing a special on the Republican TV debates and giving Ron Paul some credit? Just a(nother) suggestion. Some of his ideas sound a bit nuts, but the man's got some balls and he goes for the facts.

9/07/2007 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Vig, I have to hand it to you. You finally did it. I heard him say a while back that, although he remains a Republican, he is most lilely to vote for a Democrat.

9/08/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Silver Surfer said...

I would like to nominate Chuck Hagel for your next "Republican of the
Week". If only more Republicans would follow his example...

9/09/2007 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Silver Surfer and Adynation, I have given Senator Chuck Hagel his 'props', early and often in these pages. Most notably here and here. If he actually votes against Bush's occupation, I will take further note. But, IMO, he's not entitled to more recognition than he's due.

But keep your nominations coming.

9/09/2007 11:43:00 PM  

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