Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The decline and fall of conservatism

I remember working on Capitol Hill in the 1970s (not for long: I was just an intern)and coming to the conclusion that liberals were really out of gas intellectually. This author suggests that conservatives are now the ones running on empty. And he even quotes an NLT fave:

Yuval Levin, a former Bush White House official, who is now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, agrees with Gingrich’s diagnosis. “There’s an intellectual fatigue, even if it hasn’t yet been made clear by defeat at the polls,” he said. “The conservative idea factory is not producing as it did. You hear it from everybody, but nobody agrees what to do about it.”

I have to confess that, if this is the best conservatives have, we’re in trouble, deep, deep trouble.

Discussions - 8 Comments

It's not an intellectual fatigue, nor is there a want of ideas. What there is a profound WEARINESS to continue the battle; Conservatives are weary of the calumny, they're weary of endless accusations of racism, greed, bad faith and animus towards their fellow Americans, towards their fellow wayfarers on this planet.

They want to be liked. They want to be accepted. They just can't take anymore opening the NYT and the Washington Post each morning, and knowing that their views are going to be openly castigated in the stories and particularly the editorials. The cultural Left has worn down Republicans to such an extent, that they've lost even the desire to offer resistance. Moreover, when Conservatives attend Church on Sunday, they hear their pastors and priests equate "niceness" with Christianity. Christianity itself is on the verge of losing its sense that it too is "a sign raised in CONTRADICTION." The Church too desires to be deemed "nice," to be deemed "with it," to be thought "current." Disagreeing is in a weird way now seen as not being nice. Taking on the Left is anti-social. But whereas the Left always so considered resistance to be anti-social, now that attitude is widely circulating in the wider culture. If you disagree with the global warning devotees, there is something wrong with you. EVEN QUESTIONING the heresies of our time is now considered out of bounds, beyond the Pale. And that's EXACTLY what we're seeing with the campaign of the false messiah, where entire issues are declared off limits. It's not a coincidence that the growth of these errors and intellectual pathologies is now answered by the emergence of a false messiah.

And what is Conservatism, but an attitude of distance and skepticism towards the fads and fashions of the time. We Conservatives are damned ab initio. There is nothing that we can do except wholly repudiate our Conservatism, and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into propagating the errors of the new church that is abuilding, the church of political correctness.

But "what doth it profit a man to gain the whole world...," even the whole politically correct world, if in the gaining thereof he subscribes to errors, fads, fashion statements, and what he knows to be nothing but pathetic fads and fashion statements, what does he gain if he loses any idea of who he is.

As if the Left has marvelous new ideas?

Maybe so, Dan, but I don't think that's all. We have all taken to begging the question that government has the answers to human problems. We all, Left and Right, complain about government in different ways and we all, in our different ways, want more of it, to control this or control that, to keep us safe from the many things to fear in the world, real and imagined. We have these different conceptions of the moral imperatives of government, but do not seem to disagree on government having moral imperatives. Maybe it is just easier for the man on the street to think about the moral imperatives of government that pertain to him, most closely?

Anyway, what is political correctness? I think I know it when I see it, but have a hard time seeing guiding principles behind it. Can you define it as to principle? I mean, if I have to throw myself into it, I would like to know what it is.

Political correctness is the platform upon which the Left launches its agenda.

There is no political correctness on the Right, it's all of the Left.

If you had to "throw yourself" upon it, it would be an altar, upon which you sacrificed your identity, and your analytical faculties, it would be an altar upon which you would have to offer your devotion in frequent ritual, before which you burnt incense, and around which you chanted mantras and invocations. It's not the type of place you would really want to go, ----------------- that's for damn sure.

But it's the Left, the Left that splintered into many parts after the detonation of Communism, now advances the self-same radical agenda, the self-same radical critique upon all the aspects of Capitalism, and all the institutions of the Free World. That's the thesis of David Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith, and I agree with it.

1: Yes. All the whining about selling out our ideals and intellectual exhaustion misses the larger point: Conservatives have indeed been worn down by a political process that remains skewed in favor of the liberal status quo. They won the few, relatively easy victories. The large number of harder causes are getting almost nowhere. There have never, ever been enough conservatives in the Senate. Strong leadership on the presidential end for most conservative causes has generally been in short supply. It may sound vulgar to say it on NLT, but it's a hard fact that conservatives simply haven't won enough elections. Above all, we haven't had enough senators. If the Democrats had suffered massive midterm losses in 1998, there might have been enough genuine Republicans in the Senate to pass a serious Republican program once Bush was elected. And the House Republicans, with a large majority, wouldn't have lived in perpetual fear of losing their majority in the next election and could therefore have been less pork-oriented. (Even so, the House passed lots of good legislation that was dead-on-arrival in the Senate.) Easier to whine about losses of principle than to win elections with, as the young Winston Churchill put it, "rude weapons and often unworthy champions." As Churchill also said in the same quote, to stand back fastidiously and pride oneself on purity is "a poor part to play," because politics, in spite of it all, is "a real battle for real and precious objects." I would ask those who demand seminar-room idealism of our politicians how well THEY would do if they were on Capitol Hill. Talk is cheap, people. I certainly fault our politicians for not being tough enough toward the Dems. But again, human nature is at work here. The Dems are very, very tough opponents. It may be hard to see from our intellectual perches, but that's reality.

I think the conservative idea factory is doing fine. The conservative sales force, on the other hand ...

Bush has not governed as a conservative. The GOP Senate is not conservative. McCain is not conservative. The GOP House is relatively conservative, but they can't get legislation through the Senate, even when they have a House majority.

New ideas are not needed. What is needed is people, and politicians, willing to try to sell conservative ideas to the American people. And maybe people wlling to point out that the policies of the GOP have not been conservatism in action.

Simply stated, this is indeed most of the problem.

I think John has hit the nail on the head.One only has to look at the choices for elections. The choices are dictated by the leftist mainstream media.And while I think we have identified the problem in part, there is an underlying issue that is basically self-fulfilling and residual problem: our education system is destroying our future. This is not to say that there are not good people in education (I am in education), there are many. But they are in the minority. However, many people are starting to see the consequences of political correctness among other lefty fantasies. There is no short term solution that would not have long term consequences. Only through gradual and real change will this trend fizzle out. If one is wondering, the list is long and I haven’t the time presently.

I like John's point, The GOP idea factory is doing fine, cranking out good ideas, ------------- it's the sales force that is killing us.

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