The greatest conservative betrayal
(Update, January 1: many comments have been added to this entry.)
The failures of conservatism have been a central thread in my thought during my twenty years as a conservative writer. I have frequently decried some conservative surrender to liberalism, when conservatives, having upheld a certain principle as central to their belief system and their view of what makes America what it is, simply gave up that principle as though it had never mattered. First, there was neoconservatives’ stand on the “culture war,” which they abandoned in the ’90s and early oughts, joining the left. Then there was the mainstream conservatives’ silence following the catastrophic Grutter v. Bollinger decision on June 23, 2003. Opposing affirmative action had been their single greatest principle in domestic politics. Now, suddenly, they no longer cared about it. I was shaken by this. Then there was the social conservatives’ shocking celebration of out of wedlock pregnancy in September 2008, by which they showed that they no longer cared to oppose the single greatest cause of disorder in our society, or to uphold marriage as the fundament of civilized order. Apparently, all that civilized order required was that there be no abortions. And there have been many other such betrayals which I have written about.
But this conservatives betrayal, in its sheer suddenness and its sweeping quality, dwarfs them all. Seventeen years ago conservatives stood like a stone wall against Clinton’s attempt to open the military to homosexuals, and won. Today, they don’t give a damn, and stand indifferent and detached in the face of this portentous victory for the homosexual rights movement, a victory which opens up incalculable new opportunities for the homosexualization of American life and institutions.
And the conservatives have done this, at the end of a year of dramatically rising conservative strength and confidence, when one was having real hopes of a conservative movement that was finally becoming serious about driving back the left.
All that is shattered now. How can one feel any trust, not to mention any respect or kinship, for “conservatives” who lightly give in to the left on such a mighty issue? If they could surrender on THIS, there is NOTHING they won’t surrender on. Just give them enough time. Give them enough time for “public attitudes to change,” for a “generational shift” to occur, for the American people to start to feel (according to polls) that it’s immoral and un-American not to have nationalized health insurance, or not to have sharia law. Then the conservatives will fold on that too.
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Mark A. writes:
Yes … but they are serving their corporate masters. Why does nothing change between administrations? …
That’s a boring, cliche explanation.
Mark A. replies:
That might be true, but it’s doesn’t meant that it’s a false explanation. Is it an odd coincidence that nothing substantial has changed between the Bush and Obama administrations? Aside from Obama’s black panther crew in charge of the Department of Justice, very little has changed.
The realization that we are led by and surrounded by cowards is disheartening, although it helps to know their true colors. It is time for fortitude, one of the cardinal Christian virtues. Prudence, another cardinal Christian virtue, dictates that following cowards in their headlong flight is folly.
Near the end of the book of Revelation, Christ [who is not named, but is described as “he who sat upon the throne”] says:
“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)
The odd placement of “the cowardly” at the beginning of the sinner list makes sense when you consider that Revelation was for the persecuted church, where much courage was needed, and it makes sense in times like these. God give us the courage we need!
A reader writes:
I saw your posting on VFR today.
My answer would be that in a society as materialistic as ours, conservatism will never be taken seriously by its own nominal adherents until it is founded on genuine economic conservatism.
“Genuine” means explicitly not the free-market mythology invented to win the Cold War. It means returning to America’s original (and wildly successful) Hamiltonian economic tradition: nationalism, mercantilism, protectionism, government support for industry, and explicit measures to produce broadly-shared (as opposed to plutocratic) prosperity.
If this position is embraced, the pieces would start to fall into place for a serious conservatism:
1. You can’t have economic nationalism without starting to take the nation-state seriously again.
2. You can’t have broadly-shared prosperity without ending mass immigration.
3. You can’t have mercantilism and government support for industry without a competent and honest government, so you can’t have either without civic virtue.
Peter G. writes:
in a recent conversation about history with a WWII veteran I asked the rather impertinent question; “So, did you ever think you were fighting so men could some day marry men?” He was speechless, eventually all he could do was shake his head in perhaps a new found sense of how morally absurd things have become.
Paul accurately described Satan as transforming himself into an angel of light. Who are these “leaders” acting like? God or Satan?
Every word you say is true and part of what makes it so hard to keep trying. I still participate in politics on a very active level, I still donate my own money to help conservative candidates. But I stood with many of the leaders of the 1994 “revolution” at parties and gatherings during the first week of January 1995 when I was in Washington for the swearing in of the new Conservative Republican Majority Congress in 40 years. We had won, and sweeping change was about to take place. Nada, nothing except failure and betrayal. But as G.K.C. said, the only real sin is despair, for it denies both salvation and miracles.
Mitchell B. writes:
The current enemy of the United States is our very own government regardless of the professed ideology of the politicians infesting that government. I mean that quite literally. Our government is a left-wing fascist pathogen that has metastasized into every facet of our culture and society. Republican victories have made little or no difference in our enemies’ progress. In the case of the Bush (both of them) crowd, Republicans were actually as bad as the Democrats. The Republican Party is led by liars, cheats and thieves for the most part. This has been increasingly true for 50 years. Even the much-vaunted Reagan hardly slowed down the leftist rot and with his amnesty for illegal aliens in the late ’80s. Reagan greatly facilitated this country’s destruction. The United States is done. All that’s left are left-wing parasites that have finally killed the host. All we’re waiting for is the proverbial last straw that will finally collapse the rotten structure that still remains. Who knows what will come next, but the transition will not be pleasant.
This is getting carried away into cosmic negativism.
Buck O. writes:
I know little about biology or genetics, but conservatism must be a recessive gene that is disappearing. We hear silliness about a silent conservative majority, main street America, or that outside the totally blue urban areas America is bright red. So, what? It can’t be too bright. We have no power. We’re a dying nation. The former American nation is already dead. We’re now just a country of competing uni-cultures clambering for authority and special rights as mini-nations. We’re toast. Listen to the mainstream ridicule the U.S. Constititution. It’s in the blood stream. We’re simply left to chronicle the pain or count the dead. It’s getting us nowhere. I said something to Laura Wood last week. I guessing I sound too negative, like a lunatic. We need to do something, but we’re paralyzed by our irrelevancy.
This is not about feminism, but about the whole ball of wax. I’ve been having a similar reaction to just about every issue under discussion within the traditional conservative community. We talk about everything until we’re blue in the face. We seem to be circling ourselves and chasing our tails. How many times can we dissect and parse the insanity of modern liberalism’s list of infections? We, in the traditional conservative cloud—know what’s wrong. Yet, we seem to be caught up is a swirling funnel of thought that ends up being sucked unheeded into a black hole. We don’t know how to act.
I’m serious. If I was to act in a way that let everyone know what was on my mind, I’d be seen and treated as a lunatic, and I would be friendless and outcast. I’d be in one continuous argument.
I’ve been thinking about how each of us must take control of our small center of influence. We are all, in a way, the center of a series of concentric circles of influence and responsibility—the closer in, the stronger. I have a son, I have close friends, I have acquaintances, I socialize regularly and mingle with others in public places. Am I going to challenge every incorrect or disagreeable utterance and act that I see or hear—beginning with my son (who’s perfect) and my friends and anyone else in a social setting? I abhor people who break protocol and bring up serious issues and politics when we were invited to socialize, not specifically to participate in a debate or forum. Let me know in advance, it’s okay. We all take the opportunity to say things—when it’s appropriate, but we all need to say something when it’s inappropriate. We all need to break protocol. We need to speak loudly and be prepared to defend ourselves. We need to be shouting out of our windows that we “are not going to take it anymore.” But, we aren’t going to. We have been liberalized and socialized into accommodating and ignoring and constraining ourselves. If we do act out, we’ll be ostracized and lose the very opportunity that we seek. It’s a catch-22.
What we’re doing now is not working. Our world is growing more insane and suicidal. Modern liberalism dominates all areas of our lives—with little or no resistance. We’re swatted away like flies.
We can blog and write and join in an occasional rally. We can vote, we can call our legislators. But, really, is that working?
We need to walk door-to-door in our cul de sacs—challenging our neighbors to debates or to action. They’ll react in horror. Hey, did that nut job Buck knock on your door and try to sell you on that wacky conservative propaganda?
We can lead by example. right, how’s that working out? Maybe my son has been influenced by me, but he regularly laments the tiny cadre of the few, who swim cautiously, hugging the shore, hidden in the grasses in the huge pond of modern liberalism that is the University of Maryland. He rarely feels comfortable challenging the authority. He like, the rest of us, wants to survive and be comfortable.
Who’s going to do that? Unless everyone does—all at once, all on the same page, relentlessly, then nothing is going to change. We can jaw-bone these issues—rehash them repeatedly, one at a time as they pop up anew each and everyday. We can try our best to unearth our buried founders and prop them up as a back-drop. We can continuously refer to the great government diagram—the U.S. Constitution. But, if no one gives a damn what those long-dead white men said, or meant, or knew, then what difference does it make. It makes no difference—review the last 100 years of supreme court rulings. America in on auto-pilot. The intellectual and emotional mega-ship of modern liberalism is so huge that all of our tiny tug boats can’t turn it around. It’s dragging bottom in the shrinking ocean of blending humanity. It’s crew is completely secure and isolated from the clambering from the frantic tiny tug boats. The massive inertia of the modern liberal ship of state can’t be constrained. It must be sunk. How does that happen?
Some kind of huge explosion before it’s too late? Or, will it just sink in the mud, requiring some to be saved by those squawking tugboats?
Some cataclysmic has to happen—a metaphysical slap in the face that wakes everyone up.
What we seem to be doing is rearranging the proverbial chairs on deck.
There’s a phrase that was being much overused, a month or two ago, “buck-up.” Well, I found it somewhat irritating, not for one obvious reason, but because it’s meaningless. “Bucking up” does nothing but steel us to what’s happening. We have to act. We have to do something. Something much greater than we are now doing. I wish that someone could explain to us all—what that is.
There needs to come into existence something which doesn’t now exist: an organized, concerted opposition to the entire drift of modern liberal society, and an alternative vision of a different society.
John Dempsey writes:
I understand your lament on the lack of any opposition to the repeal of DADT. It is extremely troubling. Even the normally conservative Christian websites are silent on this most crucial of issues. I did however come upon this article at Canada Free Press and wanted to share it with you.
May your New Year be filled with God’s Peace.
JC from Houston writes:
I notice that when these nation killing liberal proposals pass, the question is always, how many Republicans will support it and allow whatever abomination to pass. The press lauds Republican “moderates” of course. What I have noticed is that, unlike in the ’50s and ’60s when I was growing up, the Democratic degenerate-socialists now vote in almost unanimous lockstep. Case in point, supposedly “conservative” Democratic senator Jim Webb from Virginia, who in an earlier incarnation was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy and a Marine Viet Nam veteran, voted to repeal the ban on homosexuals serving. He justified it with a lot of liberal gobbledygook. The Republican party may be stupid and have its share of RINOs, but I have come to conclude that the Democratic Party is just plain evil, anti-white and anti-Christian. I have reached to point that I won’t even vote for a Democrat for county clerk, inspector of hides (yes we still have that archaic office in Texas). If you want to associate with that party you are just plain evil.
I essentially agree. In my view, it is a criminal party, with a criminal mind.
Roland D. writes:
“Then the conservatives will fold on that too.”
That’s a big part of why I’ve opted out. As an expatriate, I’m essentially a nation of one—I’m lucky that I make enough money to do essentially what I want, within reason, and as a Westerner living in Asia, the locals consider me to be in the upper echelons of what’s essentially a feudalistic society.
I will never willingly live in the USA again. I’m done with all the nonsense, and am glad to be in a part of the world where political correctness regarding race and class isn’t a consideration.
Ken Hechtman writes:
I honestly don’t get why this surprises you as much as it does. [LA replies: It is annoying, when I say, “I feel A, and the reason I feel A is X, Y, and Z,” and then someone replies that he honestly doesn’t understand why I feel A.] It’s just party discipline. As you say, you’re a conservative writer and activist. The people you say betrayed conservative principles by supporting (or not opposing) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell are primarily Republican writers and activists. [LA replies: I don’t think so. The people we’ve been talking about are conservative writers, not party activists as such.] It’s not the same thing. You can promote conservative ideas even when doing so might hurt Republican electability in the immediate term. Nobody who draws a salary from the conservative press or a conservative lobby group can do that. They have to let the Republican Party set the line and decide what conservatism is from one day to the next. And if the Republican Party knows how to do one thing, it knows how to read the polls and not get stuck on the wrong side of a 75-25 issue.
I really don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. Opposition to gays in the military polled at 55 percent in 1993, it polls at 22 percent now. It was a winner issue for the Republicans and their fellow travelers then, it’s a loser issue now.
It’s an interesting argument. If the conservative media were nothing but operatives for the Republican party, it would be a plausible argument. But I think we’re seeing something larger than that. People who were once opposed to homosexuals in the military now don’t care about the issue. Something changed in their heads. Did that change consist of nothing more than, “The majority of the American people were once against it, now the majority doesn’t care about it, therefore I don’t care about it”? Even if that were true, it would not explain why each individual conservative writer would alter his own views on the issue, purely on the basis of polls. Yes, chestless non-entities like Lowry and Ponnuru at National Review are like that: they have no principles, and polls are their ultimate guide. But is that true of most conservative writers? And if it is true—if you are right—then that does not remove the problem I’ve been bemoaning but only highlights it: that the conservative movement is an empty container, that it stands for nothing.
Philip M. writes from England:
You wrote: “Apparently, all that civilized order required was that there be no abortions.”
I used to be in a pro-life organisation, and I think you are right. Looking back, I think that when you make a single-issue totemic, the issue takes on an unrealistic symbolic importance. I think part of me hoped that if we could somehow get the abortion law changed, that this would create a new-found respect for life in the population, which would have a knock-on effect; encouraging marriage, faith, family-life and all-round Catholic values. All seemed to flow from this single-issue, and it seemed right to not alienate potential supporters by discussing other things. But obviously this is nonsense. When abortion was illegal before there were plenty of people for whom news of pregnancy was an unwelcome intrusion, plenty who looked on children not as a gift from God but a nuisance. This is precisely why we needed a strong culture in order to maintain the pressure to marry and act responsibly. Changing the abortion law on it’s own would change nothing, except the demand for illegal abortion.
“The right” is largely a collection of such single-issue groups, each convinced they are focusing their firepower at the most important point, each convinced that the winning of this single issue will cause a wider renaissance. Secular nationalists do it with race and ethnicity, assuming that a newly proud British nation (or whatever) or white race will sweep to power and resolve all other moral and social problems. Libertarians think that by cutting back state interference family life will be encouraged, independence and self-reliance brought back, and all will be well again. Christians think that if we all converted to Christianity all our problems would go away—perhaps some at your site think this. But even Christianity on its own is not enough. What is lacking is an idea of man and community as a holistic whole—spiritual, ethnic/racial, moral, economic, etc. Even a Christian man with a strong faith and solid family life will be something of a lop-sided individual, will still be lacking something deep and important, and masculine, if he does not care about his own heritage and is willing to see his land over-run by aliens, and allows his freedom of speech to be curtailed in the face of aggressive minority pressure. This is why the “religious right” cannot really claim to be holding the line any more than nationalists or libertarians.
I suppose what I am saying is obvious to you, and really, is what your site is all about. But I had never seen it all in one go in this way before.
Happy New Year, Lawrence.
Max P. writes:
I noticed too Michelle Malkin was rather light on the subject following its repeal. The only post-vote post I found at her site was about a tweet message from Senator Reid to Lady Gaga.
The criticism in the post was not that DADT had been repealed, but rather that Senator Reid chose to inform Lady Gaga via twitter before anyone else. I guess that was suppose to show us how the Democrats are beholden to their celebrity supporters.
But the larger point I think conservatives should take from this is that they really can’t trust Republicans. Republicans are like sunshine patriots who crumble when you need them most. Their main priority is whether their bread is being buttered. They will use social conservatives as their foot soldiers to win elections, but can never be counted upon to deliver what they promised. Instead of telling the teacher that the “dog ate my homework,” they just resort to the old reliable “it was inevitable” routine.
When will social conservatives finally realize they have no place in this party? Thirty years ago the social conservatives actively began to support Republicans because of the Roe decision and what they saw as the rot of the culture. Over that time the Republicans have had held the presidency for 20 years, both Houses of Congress for 12 and the Senate for six more. In other words, the Republicans, far from wandering in the wilderness, had access to the levers of power for much of the past thirty years. And what did they deliver? Abortion, one of the initial issues of the social conservatives, is still around with no end in sight. In fact to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, nominees are expected to support the precedent in Roe. Not only have they not delivered on abortion, but they also lost ground in other areas that weren’t even being contested. Was homosexual adoption on the agenda in 1980? Was homosexual marriage an issue? Did school kids have a Christmas break back then or a winter one? You get the point, the list goes on and on. The point is social conservatives helped deliver power to the Republicans for the better part of the past 30 years and ended up losing ground.
Contrast this with the Democrats. In under two years they forced Obamacare through the system despite the vocal opposition of at least half the population. Knowing this could cost them in 2010, they passed it anyway. I sure wish the Republicans would have taken stands like that when they were in power. Instead, the Republicans only delivered the goods to the business and foreign policy conservatives.
One could argue that Republicans never had the super majority that the Democrats enjoyed these past two years. However, outside of those two years, they always held enough power to PREVENT bad legislation and judicial nominees. How often did a Republican Senate “bork” a democratic nominee?
Even after the historic elections of 2010, when the masses clamored for fiscal restraint, what did the Republicans do? They took a deal to extend unemployment for 13 months for an extension of their sacred tax cuts, budget busting consequences be damned. In less than a month they abandoned the fiscal restraint message that won them an historic election. Does anyone really think they’ve changed, or trust that they will stand firm with us on any issues other than taxes?
D. from Seattle writes:
Let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year.
Prompted by your observation, that almost no major conservative institution or writer has voiced their opposition to the mis-named “DADT repeal”, I searched the Investor’s Business Daily site; they are far from perfect but are generally more conservative than most.
What I found was not a complete silence but some rather weak opposition. There were four mentions of “DADT” in 2010 (not counting the comments section). An editorial from Dec 17, 2010 bashed Harry Reid, complaining that “repeal(ing) “don’t ask, don’t tell,” … would alter the very nature of our military”. That’s about as strong as it gets—no explanation of how it would alter the nature of the military or why it is bad for society at large.
Another editorial on Dec 3, 2010 complained about repealing DADT in wartime, because it decreases military readiness and combat effectiveness. But the editorial states explicitly “Let us start with the premise that gay men have served and are serving honorably in the armed forces. With the increasing presence of women in the military, even in quasi-combat roles, that applies to lesbians as well.” The editor doesn’t really have a problem with repealing DADT in general, just not at this time.
So it all boils down to military readiness, which is a fine goal, but not sufficient. The editors of IBD do not seem to be concerned with morality, only with utility.
In the Dec 31, 2010 issue there was a big editorial article on the wish list of legislative priorities for the new Congress. Here is the list: ObamaCare, spending, stimulus and taxes, entitlement reform, Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, free speech, TSA reform, Net neutrality, Afghanistan, missile defense, Iran, new START, immigration, free trade, and regulatory reform. Obviously no sign of thinking that homosexuals in the military are an issue.
Regarding the larger issue of the lack of conservative spine to do anything meaningful to restore the society, I am somewhere between Buck O. and Roland D., i.e. thinking, on one hand, that only a major cataclysm will maybe wake up the masses, and on the other hand, that I’d rather have my family someplace saner and safer when that happens.
That’s just devastating, as IBD has had a notably hardline conservative profile in recent years. This really makes the case for what we’ve been talking about the last few days: a virtually total conservative collapse on this issue; and it’s been virtually unnoticed, except at VFR.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 31, 2010 04:09 PM | Send
Also, my memory is that IBD has been strong on social issues, not just size of government and Islam. I will do a search of VFR later and try to get an overview of their editorials that I’ve I’ve posted in the past.