On The State of the Conservative Movement

When the TEA Party exploded onto the political scene in 2008, all of America witnessed a powerful end to political apathy in this country. People began looking to get informed and what they discovered infuriated them even more. From 2009 through 2010, the Democrats pushed through a plethora of progressive legislation against the will of the people and by Novemeber 2010 the people had had enough, and the Democrat Party was swept out of their House majority. Change was on the horizon.

Since 2010, however, I’ve watched as the conservative movement has undergone dramatic evolutions and devolutions. I’ve watched it have unimaginable victories and wholly regrettable failures. The leaders of this movement rise in brief moments of righteousness and are yesterdays news just as quickly. No conservative leader, organization, or group of leaders have found a platform upon which to reorganize the Republican Party into something meaningful or stable.

In fact, the fracturing and utter lack of intellectual or philosophical integrity seem to have only gotten worse. Conservatism has become populism, seemingly overnight, and conservatives are now wholly uncertain about their role in the party. The populists care as little about the conservative grassroots agenda as the establishment and the establishment does not see this populism as something distinctly disconnected from the conservative phoenix of 2010.

If you read David Brooks or Jennifer Rubin, you are well aware that the establishment hasn’t changed, doesn’t plan on changing, and fully believes that the disorganization of their more conservative rivals is destined to make their discontented movement short lived and ineffectual. If you are paying attention, it is hard to fault them for their arrogance or optimism.

If you read William Kristol or any of the other apoplectic neo-conservatives at National Review, the sense of desperation and misery is practically palpable.  At any moment I expect National Review to attempt to secede from The Union.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Grassroots has split into dozens of overly dramatic purity groups, disassociating themselves from all other conservative factions. While the establishment continues to struggle to find a new base of reliable voters, conservatives are doing everything within their means to grant the establishment power by default. That is, after all, the inevitable consequence of a lack of conservative unity.

In truth, conservative unity appears to have been an impossible utopia in the first place. There is no such thing as a conservative agenda. There is no such thing as a “true conservative”. Unserious, overly-emotional, and frustratingly ill-informed political leaders continue to pop out of the nations conservative wack-a-mole machine, each with their own set of true believers and true-beliefs, who will inevitably become someone else’s true believers months, weeks, days, or hours after they’ve been bopped out of view and relevancy. The true beliefs – necessarily sacrificed upon the alter of the moment.

This tells me that the Republican Party is not capable of being much more than that national political party that isn’t quite as intolerable as the Democrat Party and which, on occasion, can do some real good. This conclusion doesn’t change anything. David Brooks and Jennifer Rubin  will continue writing self-righteous and uninspiring drivel on behalf of K Street and Wall Street and the Congressional Republican Leadership. William Kristol will continue to mourn the death of neo-conservativism. The conservative grassroots will continue searching for conservative candidates to run against unacceptable moderates. Hardly anything in Congress will change.

The conservative movement will never really die. It’ll survive as long as we can withstand the perpetual disappointment.

As for me, I feel older and wiser. I no longer experience that excited antagonism toward moderately conservative Republicans who fail to meet our randomly designed and often contradictory purity tests. Any sense that we should burn the party to the ground and start over that I may have felt in the past is gone, now that I’ve seen up close and personal just what such a proposition will inevitably look like (it isn’t pretty, especially not in Virginia). I believe that we have the best possible process for working out our differences. We’ll fight our ideological battles in the primaries and rally around our nominees in November. If we make progress, it will be slow, but progress itself remains possible.

As much as I love the conservative grassroots, I no longer feel any sense of optimism that we’ll eventually all come together and get our acts together. Organization isn’t our strong suite. Cooperation apparently isn’t in our DNA. Compromise is intolerable. Settling for something slightly less than perfect seems perfectly impossible. Honestly, the best thing we can do is try to support the best Republicans available, stay in touch with their offices, make sure to keep them informed about our concerns, support them against their Democrat rivals and challenge them respectfully and thoughtfully when needed. Primary challenges can be respectful and thoughtful.

The average voter is so sick of hearing vitriol that they tune it out as soon as it accosts their ears. So while it feels good, like sticking pins in a voodoo doll, it has the same effect. If we’re ever to have a successful conservative message, it needs to be a serious, thoughtful, and positive message. It needs to be a message supported and defended by appeals to the principles and philosophies that justify it and not caustic agitation directed at what is or what was. If we can ever accomplish this and gain the reasonable support of a sensible majority of the conservative movement, we may have a shot at changing our nations direction in ways that do not require burning it to the ground first.

 

 

About Steven Brodie Tucker 178 Articles
Graduated From Virginia Tech with a Bachelors in Philosophy and a minor in Psychology. Studied Economics and History at George Mason University. Caroline County Resident and Activist.
  • Waverly Woods

    Look at you clicking away!

  • David Southall

    What you continue to express as conservative grassroots is nativist libertarian isolationist, it is not Buckley traditional conservatism.

    • I don’t have a nativist bone in my body?

      • David Southall

        You are the company you keep. Your grassroots wing is controlled by nativist

        • First, there is no grassroots wing. Second, there is no control. It’s a complete mess.

          • David Southall

            There’s a faction and they have leadership

          • You talking about The House?

          • David Southall

            No, in general. Don’t be oblivious

          • In general? I honestly have no idea what you mean.

          • David Southall

            Do you believe the huge shift to the hard right is an organic movement away from the Buckley Era of conservatism?

          • No, i think it’s a populist movement devoid of intellectual agenda.

          • David Southall

            That you justify by writing this dribble

          • I see we’ve reached the mature part of the discussion lol

          • David Southall

            You have willfully ignored and for quite some time enabled the various factions of the hard right. The absolute disdain for traditional conservatism from all of the enablers, yourself included, has lead to the disarray you write about.

          • I have focused on the same principles and purposes from the beginning and from the beginning have tried to encourage conservatives, constitutionalists, and Libertarians towards the same set of core principles. From my earliest articles, the phrase, “conservatives, constitutionalists, and Libertarians” has been repeated over and over again. These are the three groups of folks who i believed shared enough enough in common to make a positive difference. Now, i can see i was wrong, but not because any of these people were hard right, they aren’t, but because most of these people misrepresented what, at the end of the day, they really wanted. It wasn’t freedom. It wasn’t a republic. Sadly, like the establishment class, they just wanted power.

          • David Southall

            Did you honestly believe all of it was for anything other than power. The problem with burning dowe the city to take power is when you finally win all that is left is the ashes and smoke.

          • At the most fundamental levels it was never about power. It was about slowing spending, reducing the debt, opposition to the ACA, and a distrust of what appeared to be an increasingly corporatist and increasingly bureaucratic and corrupt federal system under George W. Bush. That was where the movement came from. However, the relative ignorance of new activists allowed them, in large numbers, to be led astray, manipulated and disappointed time and time again, which is why the conservative movement is so fractured and why the factions are so intolerant.

          • David Southall

            I was all in during the early days and much like the progressives took over Occupy the alt-right anti-establishment nativist took over the Tea Party, I realize you think you have moved away from them, but you really haven’t. You still write pieces screaming against the neo-cons and establishment…. The problem is not the traditionalist, Steven the problem is giving any of these groups distorting actual conservatism and the ideas of Buckley, Goldwater, Coolidge, Reagan and others any respect or credence….

          • If you think that this new alt-right is bad enough to drive me toward the establishment, you’re crazy. I’m lamenting the utter lack of allies in this piece and explaining how I intend to behave politically moving forward.

          • David Southall

            If bigotry, nativist, hatred isn’t enough for you to consider traditionalist who are much more accepting. Hell I don’t have a problem with anyone, yet I am called every name in the book by “fellow republicans”….

          • One won’t drive me to the other. I’m learning to hold my own.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            You know, you are right. The populist should have unionized 25 years ago to stop the establishment from purchasing our government. And then, sucking the life out of our country with their cheap labor idealogy.

          • That seems to be their goal.

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