Friday, August 16, 2013


Michael Walsh, ironically but perhaps appropriately more often recognized as faux-Leftist David Kahane, puts the case most bluntly:

It's clear by now that if conservatives are ever going to even begin to roll back the overt, ongoing and worsening lawlessness of the Obama administration, they're going to have to go over, through, or around the Republican party first. The GOP "leadership," as presently constituted, is nothing more than the lesser half of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Government, content to munch its cud and occasionally low in the direction of constitutional propriety, and then resume its own modest but lucrative role in fertilizing the "two-party" system....

What [Senator Ted] Cruz and [Senator Rand] Paul realize -- and what the others don't -- is that their first order of business is to destroy or at least render completely impotent the current "leadership" -- to, in effect, reverse the equation under which the Republicans got defeated twice by a nobody from nowhere with no record of accomplishment except a huge chip on his shoulder. Under the old formula, the notion was to lie to the conservative base during the primaries (Romney’s instantly risible and now infamous "severely conservative" self-characterization) and then abandon it in the general election for a defanging and declawing makeover so as not to frighten the media. The theory was that after some grumbling, conservatives would "come home" in November and all would be well.

Please read the entire article. (Now and then National Review Online will still publish something of true import and impact, though I can't help but suspect that it's generally against the editors' will.)

From the Bush I Administration onward, the GOP has trended backward from Reaganist conservatism toward the "we can do it cheaper" posture of the administrations from FDR through Gerald Ford. There were few true conservatives in the public eye back then; the momentum was all on the side of the Compassionate State and its ever-expanding appetite for our liberty and property.

Given that long stretch of "Democrats Lite" non-opposition to the expansion of federal power, the public could be forgiven for forgetting the enormous successes of the deeply conservative Harding and Coolidge years. The Republican Party cannot be.

Some of the most highly regarded of nominally conservative opinion-mongers have collaborated in this betrayal. The late William F. Buckley, probably the best known and most courageous of the Dark Ages conservative commentators, said openly that the time has come for conservatives to make their peace with the welfare state. He received blowback from no one of comparable prestige. Indeed, he and his associates reached unprecedented (for conservative pundits) levels of vitriol in condemning the John Birch Society for differing with him.

Only a few, even today, realize the harm American conservatism has done to itself in this fashion. Republican heavyweights tend to sneer it away as minority carping and its chief spokesmen as "unelectable." Their undisguised attitude is "Away with all that philosophical nonsense about the Constitution and individuals' rights! We've got an election to win!"

Which is Argument One against any sort of committed partisanry.

In commenting on the colossal failure and unflagging arrogance of the government-run schools, the great Thomas Sowell wrote that institutions exist to serve people, not the other way around. This is as true of political parties as of anything else. However, the GOP's kingmakers and master strategists appear to disagree. To them, party loyalty is the ruling principle. Who cares whether Republican elected officials actually cleave to their oaths and respect the Constitution's limits on government? The important thing is to get Republicans into office and keep them there; the rest will sort itself out in due course.

Whether compromising on every claimed principle is a way to get Republicans elected is open to dispute, more so now than ever before. Consider:

  • No Republican attained the Oval Office from 1932 through 1951.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower was the most popular general alive; his opponent practically defined the supercilious Ivory Tower intellectual.
  • Richard Nixon defeated the wimpy vice-president of a monstrously unpopular Democrat who had declined to stand for re-election.
  • Ronald Reagan was the first Republican since Harding to hold out a vision of Constitutionally constrained limited government.
  • George H. W. Bush was Reagan's vice-president, and attained the presidency as Reagan's successor.
  • George W. Bush had the advantage of running against the visibly tawdry and thoroughly corrupt Clinton Administration. He was still more fortunate in that Al Gore, his opponent, was both personally dislikable and a poor campaigner.

In short, with the exception of Reagan, successful Republican aspirants to the presidency could not have been elected had they not been massively fortunate in their opponents, the circumstances, or both. Yet the GOP's "leadership" is utterly committed to the notion that "Democrat Lite" / "we can do it cheaper" Republicanism will wrest the palm back from the Left.

Michael Walsh plainly understands this. So do Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. Whether they and those who agree with them can dethrone the GOP's power brokers and move the party back to a sound, Constitutionally based stance, against the inertia and determined resistance of the Bushes, the Christies, the McCains, the Grahams, and the many "conservative" commentators who'd rather cut their own throats than back an actual conservative, remains to be seen.

I am not a partisan of any party. I flirted with the Libertarian Party for a few years, but left it behind when I realized that its fringe elements had become dominant over the sober-sided sorts. Partisanry aside, I have more hope for the GOP than for any other visible political force. It can still be turned around and made formidable.

What will that take, other than a nationally popular figure around whom American conservatives will rally?

  • Admission of previous errors and misjudgments, not only from the GOP's masters but from Republican partisans generally;
  • Public courage about Constitutional principles and forthright condemnation of those who have betrayed them;
  • The rejection of the Main Stream Media as reliable arbiters of "what Americans want;"
  • The rejection of candidates who cannot or will not cleave fearlessly to all the above, and of elected Republicans who have governed as "Democrats Lite" (or worse) once in office.
  • As always, time, energy, and money.

It's gird-your-loins time, fellow conservatives...if you concur with the above.


John said...

Since Harding? Since Coolidge, certainly, Fran.

Vernon said...

The local precincts are where it all starts. Met some Republicans at the county fair who talked about how they had replaced the "good old boy" leadership in the local organization with real conservatives. A surprisingly small number of people make the really important decisions. Get involved locally.

VJ-III Citadel