Monday, February 04, 2008

Dyspepsia on the Right

I agree wholeheartedly with Krystal - but I'd go farther. The conservative movement has been getting more and more puritanical in it's zeal for idealogical purity since, oh, the failed impeachment trial of Billy boy in 1997. Every nominee must be perfect, every decision or piece of legislation untarnished by compromise.

It's not a wonder we lost both houses of congress in 2006. Polls show that conservative voters stayed home. It was NOT, contrary to perception, anything to do with Iraq war. Our voters were mad at our congress, and now we have "madame speaker" to look at on TV every night (urp, turning green). McCain can win the war, seat the judges, cut the spending, and ...AND...keep Hitlery and her "man behind the curtain" Bill, away from the oval orifice...T

The prospect of John McCain as the likely Republican presidential nominee has produced a squall of anger on the right. Normally reserved columnists and usually ebullient talk-radio hosts vie to express their disgust with McCain, and their disdain for the Republicans who are about to nominate him. The conservative movement as a whole appears disgruntled and dyspeptic.

Now I have nothing against a certain amount of disgruntlement and dyspepsia. The ways of the world, and the decisions of our fellow Americans, occasionally warrant such a reaction.

But American politics tends to be unkind to movements that dwell in anger and relish their unhappiness. In the era from Franklin D. Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, liberals tended to be happy warriors — and that helped their cause. The original civil rights movement succeeded in part because it worked hard to transcend a justifiable bitterness. Liberalism faltered when it became endlessly aggrieved and visibly churlish.

The American conservative movement has been remarkably successful. We shouldn’t take that success for granted. It’s not easy being a conservative movement in a modern liberal democracy. It’s not easy to rally a comfortable and commercial people to assume the responsibilities of a great power. It’s not easy to defend excellence in an egalitarian age. It’s not easy to encourage self-reliance in the era of the welfare state. It’s not easy to make the case for the traditional virtues in the face of the seductions of liberation, or to speak of duties in a world of rights and of honor in a nation pursuing pleasure.

One reason conservatives have been able to navigate the rapids of modern America is that they’ve often gone out of their way to make their case with good cheer. William F. Buckley, the father of the conservative movement, skewered liberals, but always with wit and élan. By 1980, bolstered by the growth-oriented doctrine of supply-side economics, and speaking the language of American uplift more than that of conservative despair, Ronald Reagan won the presidency.

Since then we conservatives have had a pretty good run. We had a chance to implement a fair share of our ideas, and they worked. In the 1980s and 90s, conservative policies helped win the cold war, revive the economy and reduce crime and welfare dependency. American conservatism’s ascendancy has benefited this country — and much of the world — over the last quarter-century.

This is an important moment for the conservative movement. Not because conservatives have some sort of obligation to fall in behind John McCain. They don’t. Those conservatives who can’t abide McCain are free to rally around Mitt Romney. And if McCain does prevail for the nomination, conservatives are free to sit out the election.

But I’d say this to them: When the primaries are over, if McCain has won the day, don’t sulk and don’t sit it out. Don’t pretend there’s no difference between a candidate who’s committed to winning in Iraq and a Democratic nominee who embraces defeat. Don’t tell us that it doesn’t matter if the next president voted to confirm John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, or opposed them. Don’t close your eyes to the difference between pro-life and pro-choice, or between resistance to big government and the embrace of it.

And don’t treat 2008 as a throwaway election. If a Democrat wins the presidency, he or she will almost certainly have a Democratic Congress to work with. That Congress will not impede a course of dishonorable retreat abroad. It won’t balk at liberal Supreme Court nominees at home. It won’t save the economy from tax hikes.

If, by contrast, McCain wins the presidency — and all the polls suggest he’d be the best G.O.P. bet to do so — he’ll be able to shape a strong American foreign policy, nominate sound justices and fight for parts of the conservative domestic agenda.

One might add a special reason that conservatives — and the nation — owe John McCain at least a respectful hearing. Only a year ago, we were headed toward defeat in Iraq. Without McCain’s public advocacy and private lobbying, President Bush might not have reversed strategy and announced the surge of troops in January 2007. Without McCain’s vigorous leadership, support for the surge in Congress would not have been sustained in the first few months of 2007. So: No McCain, no surge. No surge, failure in Iraq, a terrible setback for America — and, as it happens, no chance for a G.O.P. victory in 2008.

Some conservatives can close their eyes to all this. They can choose to stand aside from history while having a temper tantrum. But they should consider that the American people might then choose not to invite them back into a position of responsibility for quite a while to come.
Click here for full article


James said...

The article makes a sound point. The problem for many of us is how far astray the political discourse has moved, with Republican candidates supporting much of what had actively worked against that the left has inflicted on the nation. Clear example is socialized medicine. How did we come to point that Republicans want the government to pay for medicines and health care? Another is education: we did not want federal department of education in the first place (for constitutional reasons) - now most candidates want to expand the control and role of the Federal Government in local education.

Currently McCain runs for positions previously we were fighting the democrats from imposing on us.

Navitor69 said...

I have long regretted the election of Bush’s father G.H.W. – feeling that he squandered Reagan’s legacy, and allowed the election of Clinton, the worst criminal ever to hold the presidency. Both are still true today. However –

We need to win the war – this cannot be under stated

We need to get the next vacancy on the supreme court

I long felt that to support a non conservative nominee was worse in some aspects than having a democrat president. I can’t say that this year –