Excellent article by Julie Kelly about understanding what has really happened to Conservatism:
The realignment of the political Right has prompted a public confessional of sorts, a raw acknowledgement that millions of us were led astray by Republiican leaders we trusted, we voted for, and we defended during times of war. We only have ourselves to blame, of course, because we did it with our eyes wide open. But the Trump era is forcing many Republicans to reexamine what we once believed and reassess what actually is true.
In a fiery speech earlier this month at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C., Fox News host Tucker Carlson talked about purging his “mental attic” to dust off the ideas that he had accepted as legitimate over past few decades.
“The Trump election was so shocking . . . that it did cause some significant percentage of people to say ‘wait a second, if that can happen, what else is true?’” Carlson said. “Just look around . . . who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? A lot of the people we’ve been told are good guys are not. Some of them are the worst guys. I’ll let you figure out who.”
One of the crucial things to understand about politics is that it draws layabouts like s*** draws flies. That is, it draws rent-seeking nincompoops who are determined to live well without having to actually produce anything. No political ideology is free from this. Heck, even the most productive companies in the world aren’t entirely free of it. There are always – always – people trying to get a free ride.
Modern Conservatism got its start in reaction to the changes in American governance introduced during the Roosevelt Administration in the 1930s. It was correctly understood that the ultimate result of Roosevelt policies would be the end of the America founded in 1776. It was a movement to roll back the government; stand firm for American defense and defend the family and our social institutions from the remorseless attack of the Left. This movement reached its peak in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980…and I think we all thought that we really had won. That is, we thought that our ideas had proven correct and that going forward it would just be the increasing implementation of the ideas of Conservatism. We now know that it didn’t work out that way…and it didn’t work out that way because in the wake of Reagan, we got a host of political barnacles who spoke the words of Conservatism, but didn’t really have an interest in carrying out Conservatism. We were consumed by rent-seekers when we needed committed fighters.
But for the longest time, most of us went along with them – they were our leaders, after all. They wrote for prestige magazines. They had best-selling books. TV shows. And they did, indeed, speak the words of Conservatism…but always with a caveat which we ignored or didn’t understand. Now was always not the exact, perfect time to really press for Conservatism. We always had to do something else first, and getting that done invariably meant not fighting a particular battle for a Conservative principle. We were kept on the hook by endless promises that the New Dawn would come, and we’d finally be in the right moment where we could fight the left tooth and nail. But, it never came. Of course, it was never meant to come. The grifters running the Conservative show didn’t want that – because they weren’t really Conservative. They liked their swank gigs and they knew that to keep them they needed to keep talking right, but they weren’t about to go to their liberal friends and explain that they had to actually fight to defend the family, or even to defend the concepts of “male” and “female”.
Those of you reading me here have known that I had my doubts for many years – even stretching back to the Bush the Younger years…and, truth be told, some doubts even in the Clinton years. A gnawing feeling that we were being sold down the river and that not everything we were taught to revere was worthy. But I did keep to being a loyal foot soldier. Partly, of course, because no matter how bad the GOPe squish being foisted upon me, he or she was still miles better than the Democrat. But that was still folly on my part, and I see that now with blinding clarity. It has always been better to suffer even crushing defeat while fighting for what we believe in than to “win” with someone who will merely slow down our defeat. Douglas MacArthur was once asked his formula for defensive war and he gave a one word answer: “defeat”. You can’t win unless you attack – and attacking requires a ruthless willingness to take and inflict pain.
Trump isn’t a Conservative; not remotely. Except in one, crucial aspect: Conservatism is really just common sense, and Trump has bags of that. He’s not someone, I think, who has delved deeply into Adam Smith, Edmund Burke and F.A. Hayek. He’s not, that is, an intellectual of the Right. But, then again, who is? Bill Kristol? Max Boot? David French? If these are our intellectuals, then we’re doomed. Trump isn’t advancing Conservatism in a conscious sense – but by doing what makes sense, he’s advancing it all the same. It is common sense that the judges merely enforce the laws; to do otherwise means there is no law, and thus no chance for justice or mercy or even sanity. The only judges out there who will simply enforce the laws are Conservative judges…and, so, common sense dictates the appointment only of Conservative judges. It’d be stupid to waste even a single life time appointment on a non-Conservative judge because that means you’re just giving the anti-law, insane Left side of the aisle an unearned win and making life harder for yourself going forward.
So it is with act after act. True, it’d be nice if Trump would take on the national debt, but that is something that only concerns a small number of people. Yes, the debt is a looming national catastrophe and if we don’t get a handle on it, we’re going to pay a high price for our profligacy. But Trump isn’t particularly concerned about it and never has been. Can’t ask a man to be what he isn’t. And at the end of the day, the pretend-Conservatives who ran our movement since Reagan also didn’t do a damn thing about the debt. Perhaps Trump’s successor can be made to do what is necessary (it won’t really be hard: at it takes is a good economy and a really very small reduction in overall government spending over a period of 10 years to get to balance and debt reduction). But the bottom line is that outside of the debt, Trump is moving the Conservative ball forward even more effectively than Reagan (who also didn’t tackle the debt). And by doing this – by actually implementing Conservatism – Trump is doing the best thing anyone has ever done for us: exposing the traitors in our ranks.
Remember, these are grifters who merely want to live well without doing anything. They are best friends with their Leftist counterparts, who are also grifting (but who also do advance Leftism…so while the liberal foot soldiers are getting robbed just as blind as we were, at least Leftism is being advanced; this makes the Leftwing grifters the moral superior of the Conservative grifters). It was all fine as long as nothing actually happened in a Conservative sense. Along comes Trump and he starts doing Conservative things and they all had a choice to make: some choose to actually join the side they said they were on…others have decided to join the Left, which they always in fact were part of. For us, it means we have been able to recover Conservatism. We’ve taken it out of the hands of the thieves who stole it in the aftermath of Ronald Reagan…and no longer bound to anything that happened in the past, we are able to jettison even the mistakes that Reagan made, most notably the 1986 Amnesty. But we’ve also given up on nation building and endless war. We no longer desire to defend large corporations. We no longer defend “free trade” which merely meant middle class jobs being sent to Chinese sweated labor. We are able to start counterattacking the advances of the Left.
In my view, it is time to forget 1989 to 2009. It was a wasted 20 years, as far as Conservatism was concerned. Anyone – even the most dyed in the wool Never Trump – is free to join or reject us; we don’t care what anyone chooses and no hard feelings against anyone who repents and gets on board. But we’re now going to fight. We still may lose, but we’re not going to roll over for the Left.