In American politics today, there are five circles of conservative hell. Unlike those in Dante's Inferno, these are primarily states of pain and suffering that conservatives seek to impose on others in this earthly world - or places of torment where they drag their fellow Americans for company. After all, there's no problem in the country that's not made sweeter by domineering spite!
Note that these are conservative movements, not solely Republican, since the conservative Democrats, the Blue Dogs, are indisputably unrepentant scumbags. That said, it's movement conservatism that really excels at toxicity and dumb, destructive authoritarianism.
(This post is a ruder companion to my more serious one on The Social Contract. Needless to say, this one is partially tongue-in-cheek. Partially.)
Preserve Cultural Privilege: This category probably has the sharpest party divide, since preserving cultural privilege is really the raison d'être of those French-hating social conservatives. Theocrats and Christian Dominionists can be found here, but they appear further down, too. The anti-gay marriage and forced pregnancy movements operate on this level, as do really all conservative culture warriors. Many of the teabaggers, who are mostly just conservative Republicans after an astroturf-funded makeover and Glenn Beck tongue bath, can be found in this circle. Not all of them are racist, but almost half of the teabaggers feel that blacks are poor because they're lazy. Meanwhile, teabagger scumbags like Mark Williams and Ryan J. Murdough go much further, testing the very limits of "racist," "asshole," and of course "racist asshole."
Preserve the Aristocracy: No one works this beat quite like David Brooks, leading marketer of the "reasonable conservative" brand. (Sprinkle in a little truth to make them drop their guard, and then spring that false equivalency to disappear the disasters that were the Bush and Reagan administrations!) Unlike some of his more rabid party members, Brooks actually expressed concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. However, he is first, last and always a class warrior shilling for the aristocracy. He'll claim that the rich are harder-working and more virtuous, and compare populism to racism, but he sorta gave up the game when he admitted that "the rich and the powerful do rig the game in their own favor." (However, according to all Brooks columns, this is in your best interest – he followed that admission with his usual pitch: "Simply bashing the rich and the powerful will still not solve the country’s problems." Uh-huh.) When Brooks couldn't derail health care reform by his usual means, he became increasing desperate, lying about Senate procedures, and claiming that something precious would be murdered, forever, if it passed. For if the majority party, the Democrats, responded to this urgent policy need, the desires of the public, and dared to win - it would hurt the Republicans' feelings. Yes, it was laughably pathetic, but arguably better than claiming that providing health care would kill our sense of adventure, dampen our fighting spirit, or sap our Precious Bodily Fluids. (Flaccid courtier apologia doesn't just write itself, ya know!)
Repeal the New Deal: We can still find plenty of teabaggers here, and plenty of conservative politicians, especially in the current climate of kicking the poor and stealing their lunch money. But now we're also into the long-standing professional wankery of such wingnut welfare outfits as the Peterson Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, National Review... really every conservative think tank and loss leader magazine. Nothing chafes a rich wingnut's ass quite like the idea of the wrong sort of people living in anything better than abject poverty, especially without their permission. These are the type of people who rewind the first part of A Christmas Carol over and over again and never go to the end, so they can enjoy the part where Scrooge is still a dick. (Yeah, one of the movie versions. What, you think they're readers?) Republican president Eisenhower made his peace with the New Deal, in large part because it worked extremely well, but these assholes won't be happy until they're destroyed the social safety net for all those lesser, "non-rich" Americans, and the elderly have to eat cat food. (The Blue Dogs are fans of cat food, too, and good lord, they give Palin a run for her money in the dumb category.)
Repeal the Constitution: We're still seeing teabaggers, who want to repeal some of the amendments. Of course, their ignorance on the Constitution outstrips even their impressive ignorance in other areas. The hard-core religious authoritarians who want to impose a Christian theocracy fall here as well. The war porn and neocon penis welfare crowd, led by smirking Bill Kristol, can be placed here, too, given their dual disdain for the wishes of citizens in occupied countries (get out Iraq) and the wishes of American citizens (get out of Iraq, don't go to war in the first place). Worst of all is the Dick 'n' Liz Cheney American Fascism Tour (Now with Extra McCarthyism!). They want to - hell, they just went ahead and did, during the Bush administration - strip all due process and civil liberties from everyone they chose, torture them, and lie about it. Lying the nation into an unnecessary war was fun, sure, but that only devastated someone else's country, and there's much more damage still to be done here. Their contempt for democracy would make Machiavelli blush, and it's impossible to overstate how arrogant, ambitious, delusional and dangerous these people are. Unfortunately, they've been getting more company, as with Broder's best authoritarian buds, John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who also want to strip due process rights. And while Obama didn't create the messes at Guantanamo or Bagram, he and his administration have continued to hold prisoners without charges, and claim that they can do so indefinitely. This is not the bipartisanship we were looking for, folks.
Repeal the Enlightenment: Several groups can be found here. There's of course the anti-science folks, of a religious, corporate, or confused bent, who ran many agencies under Bush. The most rabid of theocrats push a Counter-Enlightenment agenda. Most dangerous are probably the plutocrats and Randians, pushing for a neo-feudalist system to undo most of the best ideas of America's founding, and to eliminate all of the progress achieved since then. They're a spiteful crowd, and don't believe that everyone is created equal or deserves basic rights. Theirs is a highly regressive agenda. The economic neo-feudalists are a callous, reckless bunch, but the legal neo-feudalists that flourished in the Bush administration are even scarier. They are probably best described by their ruthless and sometimes violent opposition to the reality-based community. It's not accidental that they borrowed torture techniques from the Spanish Inquisition. It's not that they don't know better; it's that, like O'Brien in 1984 (which they regard as a how-to manual), they just don't fucking care.
(Cross-posted at Hullabaloo.)