What can one say about that dear heart, Herman Cain, the current surprise front-runner of the Grand Old Party? Aside from the fact that he’s the Vidkun Quisling of African Americans there’s his 9-9-9 plan (hey evangelicals, invert it and you get a 6-6-6 plan!), an economic plan that includes a dream tax for the richest among us, and a nightmarishly lock-stock-and-barrel abolition of the social safety net, including both Social Security and Medicare (grandma and grandpa ought to just die and decrease the surplus population anyway, hmm?). Okay, I guess he qualifies as an authentic “conservative” despite his stark racial inappropriateness for a predominantly Caucasoid camp. Then there’s that good ole Texan boy Rick Perry with his fond childhood memories of quality time with dad at the family’s “Ni**erhead” hunting lodge. Incidentally, speaking of lodges, he’s the same Rick Perry who’s backed by religious rightists (Apostolic Reformationists, who make Billy Graham look like a secular humanist!) who a few years ago performed an exorcism on every Masonic lodge in the “Prophet state”, as they’ve dubbed the state of Texas. Of course Governor Perry not only appeals to wannabe American ayatollahs who would earnestly like to transform the country into a totalitarian theocracy, i.e. a biblical Big Brother state, he also smarmily spouts the kind of pro-big business rhetoric that our society’s corporations and their potentates enjoy hearing and that’s become de rigueur for conservative Republicans. Well, corporations are people too, right Rick? Should I even waste any characters on pray-the-gay-away Michele Bachmann? She and her husband can now fade from the electoral limelight to devote their time to psychotherapeutically curing homosexuals of their heinous-anus pathology and fighting the mock-noble fight in Congress for the imperiled special interests of the corporate benefactors of the working class. Likewise, her fellow anti-feminist female non-candidate Sarah Palin (yes, she’s an increasingly self-parodic bad joke wrapped in oxymorons inside a hypocrisy we’ve come to expect from “conservatives”) can return to unsportingly shooting bears and whorishly maintaining her celebrity on reality TV. And then there’s Mitt Romney. Well, according to Rush Limbaugh he’s not really, truly, or sufficiently puristically “conservative”. Hmm, Rush Limbaugh may be an iconic ideologue of the right, but he’s hardly a universally acknowledged arbiter of the definition of a “conservative”, so I’m going to respectfully disagree with his statement that Romney is a “nice guy” but not a conservative. I don’t think that he’s either a very nice guy (when he was in the private sector he certainly wasn’t anyone’s definition of “nice” to all the blue-collar workers he put on unemployment), or a moderate. Nope, he’s most definitely and staunchly a pro-fat cat and anti-underdog type, and he’s certainly not at all progressive on issues such as capital punishment and the environment. So what, pray tell, in Mr. Limbaugh’s skewed-to-the-far-right worldview, disqualifies Mitt Romney from being a real-deal fellow traveler of the conservative movement that he, the meister of mean, self-appointedly spearheads? What, does the fact that a Romney presidency would only threaten to cripplingly shoot Social Security in the foot and leave its recipients limping more pronouncedly to the proverbial poor house, rather than fatally shooting it in the back of the head à la Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, make Romney an unacceptably lukewarm excuse for a “conservative”? Or perhaps Romney isn’t sufficiently anti-choice, after all he apparently would allow rape and incest victims to have access to legal abortion procedures. He also probably doesn’t appeal much to right-wing gun nuts, since he would ban assault rifles. But hey, conservatives, he’s anti-union and opposed to raising the minimum wage. So, is this what the American conservative movement has finally and dismally degenerated into? The camp of heartless free-marketarian purists who view Social Security and any regulation of corporate avarice as insidious “creeping socialism”, right-wing theocrats, anti-abortion zealots, NRAers who masturbate to images of .44 Magnums, telegenic lady politicos who condemn the women’s movement, etc., etc.? It certainly would appear, if the current slate of Republican presidential hopefuls is any indication, that the right has found its level, which turns out to be one of ideological mediocrity and unspiritual meanness, despite its advocacy of putatively logical and faith-based public policy. Once upon a time in this land the persons of note and notoriety on the conservative side at least had some integrity and intellect. Their integrity was of course misplaced in the form of loyalty to ill-conceived ideas & ideals. And their intellect served to rationalizingly dress up the benighted and uncompassionate attitudes lurking behind said ill-conceived ideals & ideals. But increasingly the self-vaunted integrity and intellectuality of conservatives is indeed flimsily faux integrity and intellectuality. Rapidly fading from the collective memory of our political culture are the likes of Barry Goldwater, whose politics were appallingly conservative but who still maintained real conviction and common sense. As have vanished the excellence, moral and mental, of William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk. Nowadays George W. Bush and Rick Perry (according to insiders Perry is actually a few IQ watts shy of being the dim bulb that Dubya is popularly perceived to be) represent the declining standards of intellectuality of the conservative movement. And Sarah Palin represents the rising appeal of vapidity to much of the right-leaning segment of the public. And if this isn’t pathetically sad commentary enough, Newt Gingrich passes for a veritable conservative highbrow! This decline in the caliber, characterological and intellectual, of conservatives and their movement was all quite inevitable of course, not at all a fluke or merely a result of the bigger picture of our society’s trend toward mediocrity. Conservatism, alas, has always emanated from an unevolved, a morally, spiritually, attitudinally, and intellectually unevolved place in the human psyche that will predictably always bring it down into the gutter of such vulgarisms as fundamentalism, nationalism, racism, pro-capitalism, and partisan politics. Say what?! At its stripped-of-rationalization core the conservative outlook is quite simply an unreconstructedly alpha male/female, social dominance-oriented, authoritarian mentality. A nearly Neanderthaloid mentality consisting of amoral and unspiritual mental positions that run much deeper than a conservative’s conscious and sanctimonious opinions. The real conscience (if one can loosely call it that) of a “conservative”, that is, is that of his/her inner caveman, which axiologically esteems raw strength and dominance, and which thinks in terms of morality and society being undergirded by the force of authority. Hence the conservative’s wont to admire and identify with the interests of the rich, our society’s latter-day dominant males (and females) – and the conservative’s boosterism for capitalism, a system that permits individuals to attain to social dominance through the achievement of economic wealth and superiority. Hence also the conservative’s unempathetic disregard for poor people and welfare recipients, who are viewed through caveman lenses as inferior losers who don’t deserve society’s compassionate support. And hence the rest of the motley mediocre positions of the conservative ideology. E.g., conservative moralism on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and pornography, which stems from self-righteous adherence to authoritarian ethical-religious beliefs and bestows on the conservative both a secure sense of being in the bosom of his/her moral authorities, and of personal moral superiority. And conservative nationalism, which psychologically involves identifying with the strength and espousing the authority embodied by one’s national tribe. And the tough law & order, pro-death penalty stance of conservatives, which expresses the mentality that crime is to be dealt with by asserting the dominance of society’s “good people” over the “criminal element” with law enforcement and harsh penalties. And the pro-military, support-the-troops jingoism of conservatives, which manifests their macho mindset’s respect for their national tribe’s warriors, its alpha males in uniform; as well as fulfilling an unconscious desire to partake of a sense of personal prowess by publically expressing affinity with manly military men. And on, and on. All of the other views and stances of conservatives likewise cognitively-emotionally trace back to underlying crude alpha male thought patterns and psychological attitudes. The current crudity, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, of conservatism’s crop of presidential candidates is no surprise at all then, conservatism really has found its natural level. The Rick Perrys and Sarah Palins of contemporary politics are the true if disappointing face of their movement and the feeble best that they can now put up to run against a Democrat for the highest office in the land. Tear-jerkingly sad commentary indeed.