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The Myth of an Impure GOP (Ideologically sound, but not always effective)
National Review ^ | 01/15/2013 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 01/16/2013 7:24:35 AM PST by SeekAndFind

It’s hard for a lot of people, particularly on the right, to recognize that the conservative movement’s problems are mostly problems of success. But the Republican party’s problems are much more recognizable as the problems of failure, including the failure to recognize the limits of that movement’s success.

American conservatism began as a kind of intellectual hobbyists’ group with little hope of changing the broader society. Albert Jay Nock, the cape-wearing libertarian intellectual — he called himself a “philosophical anarchist” — who inspired a very young William F. Buckley Jr., argued that political change was impossible because the masses were rubes, goons, fools, or sheep, victims of the eternal tendency of the powerful to exploit the powerless.

Buckley, who rightly admired Nock for many things, rightly disagreed on this point. Buckley trusted the people more than the intellectuals. Moreover, as Buckley’s friend Richard Weaver said, “ideas have consequences,” and, consequently, it is possible to rally the public to your cause.

It took time. In an age when conservative books make millions, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it once was to get a right-of-center book published. Henry L. Regnery, the founder of the publishing house that bears his name, started his venture to break the wall of groupthink censorship surrounding the publishing industry. With a few exceptions, Regnery was the only game in town for decades.

That’s hardly the case anymore. While there’s a higher bar for conservative authors at mainstream publishers (which remain overwhelmingly liberal), profit tends to trump ideology.

And publishing is a lagging indicator. In cable news, think tanks, talk radio, and, of course, the Internet, conservatives have at least rough parity with, and often superiority to, liberals. It’s only in the legacy institutions — newspapers, the broadcast networks, and most especially academia and Hollywood — that conservatism is still largely frozen out. Nonetheless, conservatism is a mass-market enterprise these days, for good and for ill.

The good is obvious. The ill is less understood. For starters, the movement has an unhealthy share of hucksters eager to make money from stirring rage, paranoia, and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can come only with persuading the unconverted.

A conservative journalist or activist can now make a decent living while never once bothering to persuade a liberal. Telling people only what they want to hear has become a vocation. Worse, it’s possible to be a rank-and-file conservative without once being exposed to a good liberal argument. Many liberals lived in such an ideological cocoon for decades, which is one reason conservatives won so many arguments early on. Having the right emulate that echo chamber helps no one.

Ironically, the institution in which conservatives had their greatest success is the one most besieged by conservatives today: the Republican party. To listen to many grassroots conservatives, the GOP establishment is a cabal of weak-kneed sellouts who regularly light votive candles to a poster of liberal Republican icon Nelson Rockefeller.

This is not only not true, it’s a destructive myth. The Rockefeller Republicans were purged from the GOP decades ago. Their high-water mark was in 1960, when the Goldwater insurgency was temporarily crushed. Richard Nixon agreed to run on a platform all but dictated by Rockefeller and to tap Rockefeller’s minion Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate. When the forebears of today’s tea partiers threatened to stay home or bolt the party in 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater proclaimed, “Let’s grow up, conservatives!”

It’s still good advice. It’s not that the GOP isn’t conservative enough, it’s that it isn’t tactically smart or persuasive enough to move the rest of the nation in a more conservative direction. Moreover, thanks in part to the myth that all that stands between conservatives and total victory is a philosophically pure GOP, party leaders suffer from a debilitating lack of trust — some of it well earned — from the rank and file.

But politics is about persuasion, and a party consumed by the need to prove its purity to its base is going to have a very hard time proving anything else to the rest of the country.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: gop; ideology
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To: SeekAndFind

ping for later

41 posted on 01/16/2013 10:11:23 AM PST by BlackElk (Dean of Discipline, Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Society. Broil 'em now!!!)
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To: ex-snook

How can you miss something that ISN’T there?

42 posted on 01/16/2013 10:17:34 AM PST by Yosemitest (It's Simple ! Fight, ... or Die !)
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To: sickoflibs

she got her team to fall in line even thought they ran against those things.

It was amusing to watch blue dogs turn yellow.

43 posted on 01/16/2013 10:21:42 AM PST by csmusaret (I will give Obama credit for one thing- he is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The big issue I see is that a large fraction of democrat politicians are ideologically committed to a cause. Look at ObamaCare — it was (and still is) deeply unpopular. Yet the democrats were willing to sacrifice their careers to put it into place. A Republican was elected to Massachusetts specifically because he promised to do what he could to stop Obamacare from being passed — but even with such clear warning that it was deeply unpopular, the deomocrats passed it anyway, and several of them lost elections (or didn’t try for reelection) because of exactly that.

Just imagine what our country would be like if the Republicans were as deeply committed to individual liberty, and as willing to make sacrifices for it, as the Democrats were for big government.

44 posted on 01/16/2013 10:28:21 AM PST by TennesseeProfessor
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To: ex-snook

“C’mon man. That’s crazy. The GOP just elected him again as leader with no opposition.” - es

Yes - the GOPe is the majority of the house GOP in general. The GOPe is in the driver seat of the party. Boehner is the head of the GOPe.

I stand by my prediction that Boehner will not lead the country in a more conservative direction. I predict he will occasionally show opposition to the democrats, and then strike a solid compromise in their favor.

Remember the last “compromise”? I think the ratio of spending cuts to taxes was 1:40. THe deal was declared a “win” by Obama. Boehner handed it to him.

Have you seen the 8 zeros view of the federal finances? It showed how crazy that compromise was.

45 posted on 01/16/2013 10:43:12 AM PST by Triple (Socialism denies people the right to the fruits of their labor, and is as abhorrent as slavery)
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To: sickoflibs
A lot of folks just don't want to hear reason. They think threatening the GOP over and over on web forums is going to make a difference. It's the same people on thread after thread screaming about how they left the GOP, yet they continue threatening it. I guess it makes them feel good, but it accomplishes nothing. If you've left the GOP, fine, but stop shaking your fist at it.

No one will take that job as the goat.

There was not a single person running against Boehner. None. For him, the worst that could have happened is he won on a 2nd ballot.

Her goal was winning and she was darn good at it.

Politics is like a religion for the left. Democrats may get frustrated about their progress or lack thereof, but they keep their eyes on the ball and always push for whatever they can get - and they are always ready to take advantage of a tragedy to get their agenda passed. They are flexibly pragmatic when necessary, and are fine electing a fake conservative like Manchin in WVA. They know that state is turning red, and they are happy to deny us a seat. They did the same in Indiana by running a supposed pro-life Dem against Mourdoch, and they won. By and large the left seems much more politically saavy than the right - probably because government is a really big part of what they think about.

Boehner is not an impressive speaker in my view. Honestly, the weeping thing he's got going on kind of makes me queasy. I do wish we had someone better to lead us, but I'm under no illusions that it would make much difference. The power of the Presidency is huge, and Obama is well liked by the American public - there is no way a Speaker can compete with that. We need to win on ideas, and right now the left seems to be in ascendency. The hard work ahead is largely going to be challenging the left in academia, the media and the entertainment culture - that is where we are really losing, and that's what allows Obama and the Democrats to beat us on so many issues.

46 posted on 01/16/2013 11:05:34 AM PST by Longbow1969
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To: ex-snook; Dr. Sivana; RitaOK; Windflier; cripplecreek; Finny; Tennessee Nana; GailA; ...

What does military service guarantee in a political context?

George McGovern flew a bomber in combat in World War II European Theater. He had no objection to bombing the Nazis whom Dole heroically fought and possibly Feckless Gerald Ford may have fought nor should McGovern have had reservations about bombing Trieste. It might have proven more if he agreed to fly again in the Korean War but he likely had no enthusiasm for bombing his Korean Marxist-Leninist buddies and political co-religionists. He did whatever he could to leave Vietnam enslaved by murderous Marxist-Leninists.

Senator Tom Harkin (Commiecrat-Iowa) claims to have flown in combat in Vietnam when it appears that he was flying supply planes instead. No zest for actually attacking the "forces of progress and the future."

Did you know that John Kerry is said to have served in Vietnam before sticking a collective shiv in the backs of American military folks by starting Vietnam Veterans Against the War, throwing someone else's medals over the White House fence, lying to Congressional hearings and meeting on the sly in Paris with Viet Cong representatives at the farcical "peace talks" (round table? square table? for those who remember this absolute fiasco) to see what Comrade Kerry could do to be of actual service to Uncle Ho's successors???

Even Harry Truman, a serious combat veteran of World War I infantry service, was elected to the Senate and ran despicable hearings accusing munitions manufacturers of "war profiteering" to the delight of the pacifist and Marxist-Leninist left. Truman partially redeemed himself by being a somewhat aggressive war POTUS against Imperial Japan and then reverted to type by firing MacArthur in Korea. By today's Demonratic standards, Truman's track record is that of a man to the right of Goldwater at least on foreign policy.

Senator Upchuck Hagel (theoretically a Republican) is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

I would not have wanted a McGovern or a Kerry as POTUS. Nor Hagel as SecDef. Nor McGovern, Harkin, Kerry, Hagel nor Truman as senators.

What is your point about Ford, Dole and McCain? Did military heroism make Dole anything more than the "tax collector for the welfare state" that Jack Kemp observed him to be? Was Ford (maiden name Leslie King) any the less a quisling on all matters of public policy and any the less a stooge for liberal monied interests uber alles in the GOP because of whatever his military service may have been? Did McCain's unquestioned heroism in Vietnam and the Hanoi Hilton make him less of a spineless senator always looking for excuses to genuflect before the leftist colleagues and cooperate with them? Each of these "Republicans" in his own way is no better than a quisling like Romney made very marginally more respectable by military service.

Again, what is your point about Ford, Dole and McCain???

Am I wrong? Detailed answer with reasons please.

47 posted on 01/16/2013 11:06:07 AM PST by BlackElk (Dean of Discipline, Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Society. Broil 'em now!!!)
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To: Triple
I was at an event where Boehner spoke and I agreed with every word he said, now, that doesn't mean I am happy with everything he does but I know his heart is there so maybe we need to bolster him and support him.

I'm going to call his office now. I despise these RATS--they're slippery and slimy and it's difficult to outsmart them, especially when the MSM is against you. Phone: (202) 225-0600

48 posted on 01/16/2013 11:33:42 AM PST by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: Longbow1969
RE :”Boehner is not an impressive speaker in my view. Honestly, the weeping thing he's got going on kind of makes me queasy. I do wish we had someone better to lead us, but I'm under no illusions that it would make much difference. The power of the Presidency is huge, and Obama is well liked by the American public - there is no way a Speaker can compete with that”

The power of the POTUS to get his message out and the fact that Os strategy is to offer most voters what appears to be free stuff (much like GWB) at the cost of national debt, and Rs goal is to take away the free stuff.
O has definitely the easiest job there.

Voters hate national debt in the abstract but they hate losing stuff or paying more in taxes even more than debt , they mainly hate debt only because it mean future pain, but they see that as better than near term pain.

Yesterday I got an angry reply for posting that O is liked compared to GOP.

49 posted on 01/16/2013 11:45:49 AM PST by sickoflibs (Losing to O is NO principle!)
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To: BlackElk
"Again, what is your point about Ford, Dole and McCain??? "

The experience of having your life depend on others develops the ability to get along with others, a requisite for leadership to get things done.

50 posted on 01/16/2013 11:56:20 AM PST by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: sickoflibs
Yesterday I got an angry reply for posting that O is liked compared to GOP.

Of course Obama is liked more, he's playing Santa Claus. The Democrats have a much easier sales job. They're offering free stuff to a public that increasingly has no idea how free markets work, what made America great, etc. And sadly, Obama is a very skilled orator and a majority of Americans not only like him, but they WANT to keep liking him. There is a majority in this country that is liable to support Obama almost no matter what he does (assuming their freebies keep coming in).

This country is in a spiral downward and it is characterized by the majority voting for what they want, not what they need. Until the Republicans can find a way to change the dynamics, we are constantly fighting an uphill battle. The bad news is the fix will probably be painfully slow (assuming the economy doesn't just collapse or something). The real hard work is going to be competing with the left in academia, the media, the entertainment establishment, etc. We are going to have to make identity politics work for us instead of just letting the Democrats use it to club our political skulls in. Conservatives are going to have to make a point of fighting the left on every front ALL of our lives - not just when we get older and upset at something government does to screw up our business. We need to realize the left is in a permanent political war with traditional values, conservative ideals, etc. We need to fight that war ALL the time.

51 posted on 01/16/2013 12:00:11 PM PST by Longbow1969
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To: SeekAndFind


It is no myth

52 posted on 01/16/2013 12:09:36 PM PST by GeronL (
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To: LibLieSlayer
and able to gain respect or trust from the “low information” voter.

and how would that happen since the MSM is uniformly leftist?

53 posted on 01/16/2013 12:14:50 PM PST by GeronL (
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To: SeekAndFind

Republicans are always reactive instead of being proactive like the Democrats are.

There is no teaching or persuasion going on with consevatism. Long ago the liberals realized they needed to control the education system and then the narrative regarding their agenda.

54 posted on 01/16/2013 12:26:03 PM PST by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: GeronL

Study Reagan... name one person that has tried... Palin did but then she had no bully pulpit with which to fight back. There is NO ELECTED republican even trying.


55 posted on 01/16/2013 12:50:53 PM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: LibLieSlayer

people are dumber than 30 years ago and less engaged, there is no way for anyone to get through to the LIV’s these days

56 posted on 01/16/2013 1:30:00 PM PST by GeronL (
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To: GeronL

You have got me there G.


57 posted on 01/16/2013 1:32:59 PM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: sickoflibs

I don’t understand... if dems can’t stand us - and we can’t stand them - why not split? I’m sure if they thought about it they would be for splitting the country too. All their dreams could come true almost over night. We wouldn’t be in their country to stop them.

Tell me sick - why wouldn’t dems love the idea?

We need to talk about this... I think they’ll come on board..

58 posted on 01/16/2013 5:52:25 PM PST by GOPJ ( Gang members breaking down YOUR door-daughter&wife screaming -Dems took YOUR gun. Shots fired.)
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To: sickoflibs
 It’s not that the GOP isn’t conservative enough
"Ohhhhho say can you seee...."
Eyes Wide Shut

"8-1984 - Lawrence King [Homosexual and alleged Pedophile] throws a lavish party in Dallas, Texas, after singing the National Anthem at the Republican National GOP Convention."

59 posted on 01/16/2013 7:23:54 PM PST by TArcher
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To: Triple
We need to stop playing this RINO/GOPe game.

They ARE the Republican Party. There's no "Elite" or "In Name Only." The entire party, with very few exceptions, is this way. If they were not, the so-called "Elites" wouldn't be in power.

60 posted on 01/16/2013 7:46:03 PM PST by EricT. (The Second Amendment is Tyrant Control.)
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