A 50 year-old fight on the right between the Republicans and the conservatives has broken out again over who is right, what is right and how it all fits together or falls apart. Don't think for a moment that this isn't for real and isn't historic because it is, just as it was between Goldwater and Rockefeller, Reagan and Ford and Reagan and Bush.
These fights were not only ideological, they were cultural as well. Just as they are now. Indeed, Ronald Reagan made it his business in 1977 to take on the "country club, corporate board room" image of the GOP. In that speech, he said the GOP should be the party of the individual and not the group.
This is the essential, serious difference between Republicans and conservatives.
Conservatives are loyal to principles centered on the dignity and privacy of the individual, while Republicans herd together, not for reasons of philosophy but for power and the comfort of the group. Party allegiance gives them their identity. It defines them and, hence, they do not shrink from engaging in personal attacks on conservatives because they see any criticism of them as personal.
Thus, the two sides will never really get along. Like the Delta and Omega fraternities in the movie "Animal House." Because Republicans are Omegas and conservatives are Deltas.
I've written around this subject before, but given the current fight, it seemed appropriate (and fun!) to dust off this old theory of mine.
Can anyone who knew or understood Ronald Reagan see him in the Omega House?
Hell no. Reagan was Delta all the way. On the other hand, can anyone see George H.W. Bush in the Delta House? Heavens, no. Even W. with his reputation was really the bad boy in the good boy house rather than the good boy in the bad boy house.
Delta House was based on individuality and freedom, challenging the established order: the essential elements of American conservatism. Wasn't it Otter who made an impassioned defense of freedom and patriotism?
Omega was autocratic and establishmentarian, with a false projection of Utopianism. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and the Bushes would have fit right in. They knew the rules did not apply to them, but they applied to everyone else. Power flowed downward. Same with Mitt Romney. He looked at conservatives like they were only there to pick up his dirty tennis shorts. No wonder many conservatives saw the election of 2012 as a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledumb.
Now, this is not a hard and fast rule, but it is a pretty good guideline. Yes, I know some will say "what about the religious right?" But, as any of us sinners knows, the church isn't just for saints. The religious right guys and gals would have been with us, if only to save us from ourselves. Or they would have been "independents," coming to our parties on Saturday, in their pews on Sunday. Guilty pleasure? You bet. This is also the fusionism of the "Social Right" and the "Sociable Right," which conservative theoretician Frank Meyer and others constructed as the basis for American conservatism in the 1950's.
Can anybody imagine Karl Rove or Stephen J. Law in Delta House? I don't think so. In fact, most of the Bushies I've observed are pretty uptight. Come to think of it, both Rove and Omega House President Greg Marmalard worked for Nixon.
Indeed, establishmentarians are more concerned about what others think of them, rather than what they think of themselves. Think Dan Quayle or Dick Darman, John Sununu or Don Rumsfeld.
Is there anyone who doesn't think Bill Buckley, Barry Goldwater or most of the conservatives and Reaganites I can think of would not have been in Delta House? Same with Ed Meese, Lyn Nofziger, Roger Stone, John Heubusch, Mike Deaver (who used to play a piano in a honky-tonk) Kenny Klinge, Brent Bozell, Bob Tyrrell, Andrew Breitbart, Ed Rollins, Bill Bennett or a thousand other freedom-loving individualists.
Peggy Noonan, Michele Davis, Kellyanne Conway, Laura Ingraham and most of the women I knew from the Reagan campaigns, Reagan White House and the conservative movement would have come to our parties and not gone to the Omega parties.
And can anyone imagine Senator John Blutarsky as anything other than a libertarian Republican? I don't think so.
Toga on Delta.
Edero ego Omega.