Sunday, May 03, 2009

Specter Of Change

by Noemie Emery - May 11th, 2009 (Publication date) - Weekly Standard

Parties succeed when they group a large diverse crowd around a few major values. They fail when they spend more time pounding heretics than selling their principles.

What can conservatives do, if they want to extend their dominion? They might stop holding up Ronald Reagan as a shield and an icon and look instead at what Reagan did. He was a movement conservative and a movement leader, but he was also a politician, and a builder of party, who understood how a movement fit into a party, and how a party could move a movement ahead. Coalition destruction was not on his agenda. "He set out to run as the candidate of party unity, reaching out to Republican moderates, especially in the Northeast," as his biographer Steven F. Hayward has written.


Reagan would have seen Sarah Palin as an asset and not an embarrassment. He did not consider the party an embarrassment either, but the only mechanism through which the ideals of movement could ever be implemented. "The biggest single grouping of conservatives is to be found in that party. It makes more sense to build on that grouping than to break it up and start over," he said to those who suggested that option. "Conservatism is not a narrow ideology, nor is it the exclusive property of conservative activists," he said to an audience of exactly those activists.

Ronald Reagan's greatest quote on this issue, “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.”

In fact, Ronald Reagan was a a "fusion libertarian" (as described by Meyer) and not a pure conservative at all. What I find insane is that libertarians are leaving the party that is their best chance for influence in the world. Self promoters like Robert Barr, and even Ron Paul who though still a Republican (if only barely), never fails to create animosity and discord through his demand that he be handed the reins of leadership based on his superior intelligence. That level of narcissism is what alienates most of the libertarians and conservatives who don't agree with Paul on everything he believes. Barr is even more extreme and intolerant.

A coalition of libertarians and conservatives, with a fusion of those parts of the two philosophies that emphasize liberty, would dominate politics again. Noemie is right when she points out that current conservatives cannot seem to find common ground with people who disagree on even a single point of their agenda. It is that which brands them extremist and has cost them the dominant voice in national leadership, not simply the corruption of our ideas by people like "W" Bush and Rove. If conservatives continue on this road they will become as ineffective and useless as the libertarians of the world, like Barr and Paul.


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