Barry Goldwater’s book The Conscience of a Conservative inspired John Dean to become a conservative; Dean became Richard Nixon’s attorney/hatchetman, and later switched teams to become a key whistleblower on the most unconstitutional presidency until the current one.

Glenn Greenwald reviews Dean’s new book, Conservatives Without Conscience:

“The central premise of Dean’s argument is that the current ‘conservative’ movement shares none of the core principles of the political conservatism which attracted Dean to its movement  . . . .  [it] has nothing to do with restraining government power or preserving historical values. Instead, it has transformed into an authoritarian movement which largely attracts personality types characterized by a desire and need to submit to and follow authority.”

So what holds today’s conservative movement together?  Hatred of “liberals.”  Attacks on enemies, writes Greenwald, “have become the conservative movement’s defining attribute. And that is sufficient to maintain allegiance because, argues Dean, what Bush followers crave more than anything else is submission to a powerful authority as a means of alleviating their fears of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity — the same attributes which are common to all followers of authoritarian movements on both the right and the left.”

In Illinois, the online Illinois Review (“crossroads of the conservative community”) recently saw fit to publish an op-ed by William Beckman of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, which is a good example of this phenomenon.  Beckman doesn’t refer to a single individual or blog, but simply asserts that all “liberals” believe “absolutely” in a laundry list of a dozen positions, all of which he asserts without argument to be absolutely wrong–dividing the world into black and white with no ambiguity. 

Beckman ultimately makes no argument at all, even though he could have made a good one. Sadly, it’s all about the hate.  Fortunately, not everything at Illinois Review falls to this level.