The Re-Death of Conservatism?
Many folks may not recall Sam Tanenhaus, a New York Times editor who wrote the celebrated 2009 cover story for the New Republic entitled Conservatism is Dead. Critics hailed it as “an intellectual autopsy of the movement” which lead to the book The Death of Conservatism (if you must read, barely used hardcover’s start at 1¢). The esteemed Upper-West Side elites whose superior intellect and selfless noble cause fêted Tanenhaus, whose work became the star of the political and media narrative. While many probably didn’t read the entire article (a not-quite-7,000 word treatise) the intellectual class was satisfied knowing that Tanenhaus attacked the Right’s most iconic leaders, from Friedman, Buckley, and Goldwater to Reagan and Gingrich in an effort to prove “What conservatives have yet to do is confront the large but inescapable truth that movement conservatism is exhausted and quite possibly dead.” With President Barack Obama in the White House, the Left nodded in pious agreement, clanking tumblers at 2009 NYC/DC cocktail circuits, singing “Ding-dong, conservatism is dead.”
Of course, Tanenhaus and the elites forgot to tell the voters. With the wave elections of 2010 and 2014, the GOP not only gained control of the House and Senate, but also governors’ mansions and state houses throughout the country. Except for the White House, conservatism was very much alive, strengthened by an enticing platform of holding back the progressive Obama agenda. Tanenhaus went back into his hole. Seven years later, though, America is facing a Sophie’s Choice election where voters on both sides will need Silkwood showers on November 9th. If the polls are correct (let’s be real, they usually are) the country is about to vote the first almost indicted, untrustworthy, corrupt female president into office. Though not quite a fait accompli, the fat lady’s gargling salt water while vocally tuning her D notes. It’s bad enough to lose the White House against an unlikable and very beatable Democrat, but the GOP is now also likely to lose the Senate.
This has lead to numerous articles questioning the future of the Republican Party including @Jon Gabriel’s piece in the Arizona Republic and USA Today. While some authors clutch artificial pearls in their woe-is-me tropes, Jon provides granular specifics on what needs to be done. The problem is, in today’s A.D.D. media circus, getting back to micro bona-fide conservative issues is likely to fall on deaf ears. Most, if not all, of the mainstream media (including Fox News) placed Trump upon the nomination pedestal with their eye either on ratings windfalls or the ideological intent to tear him down in the general (or both). This is now happening. Of course, Trump doesn’t help the cause by providing unlimited cannon fodder as he’s currently on track to become the worst major party candidate in the lifetimes of many.
Of all years, this year the GOP’s perennial mainstay policy issues are easy low-hanging fruit. What’s frustrating is that, outside of Trump’s rallies, very few are discussing them. Reports suggest the RNC have presented Trump with instructions to stick to the script. Rumors (unsubstantiated) even suggested the RNC presented him an ultimatum to shape up or they’d pull support and focus on saving Congress. At this point, they should. The primary focus for any right-of-center types now is to save Congress. When Don Lemon or Chuck Todd ask questions about Trump’s latest idiotic statement, RNC surrogates need to answer as follows:
I’ll let the Trump campaign answer for themselves. However, Americans are deeply concerned about:
- The Economy: Right now, we’ve got 1.2% GDP growth including wage stagnation, the lowest work participation index in 40 years, and an extreme regulatory environment and entrepreneurial slowdown. Obama’s stimulus failed and Clinton now wants to double-down. Conservative policies would be an economic boost meaning higher wages instead of McJobs.
- National Security: The ill-advised military pullout in Iraq left the vacuum for the creation of ISIS. Obama’s first six years sidelined the threat as “JV.” Those decisions lead to increased terrorist attacks and threats both abroad and at home. While many didn’t agree with the Iraq war, we needed to finish it correctly. Now, there needs to be a pivot and proper clean-up, before a chemical weapon goes off at your neighborhood shopping center
- Illegal Immigration: 57% increase in just the past 2 years. See Economy and National Security.
If the RNC/GOP/conservative alliance is intent on minimizing the 2016 damage to just the White House, it should hound Hillary Clinton’s media’s acolytes on these issues — and only these issues — until Her Royal Heinous is seated upon her Saudi-financed throne. Then, let’s watch as a GOP House and Senate deal with the first likely almost indicted, untrustworthy, corrupt, female impeached president who was married to a former impeached president.