Conservatives have won important debates and political victories on everything from taxation to free speech to foreign policy. Those conservatives who complain that the Right hasn’t accomplished very much forget where the country was in 1955 when National Review was founded and central planning was assumed by all the right people to be the model of the future, or where the country’s domestic policies stood in 1980 or its national-security policies in 2000.To paraphrase Our President, airlines are deregulated, freight railroads are profitable, and the Soviet Union is dead.
That emergent Democrat majority of nontraditional Americans? Not yet. Perhaps this crack-up talk is more fear masquerading as smugness.
Not bad for a bunch of squares. Time on task, getting the message out, matters. And stay the course.
Conservatives are good at it. Despite vast piles of money and stores of energy directed at the project, there is no left-wing talk radio of any real significance to speak of, unless one counts the bland suburban progressivism of NPR. Fox News on a good night exceeds in audience share the rest of its cable news competitors combined. It surely is not lost on our counterparts on the Left that the peaks of Republican-party power have coincided with the influence of organized conservatism and its journals, whereas the apex of Democratic power came under Bill Clinton, who ran as hard against the campus-crusader radicalism of The Nation and Mother Jones as he did against George H. W. Bush. Mrs. Clinton is running against that same radicalism, albeit less convincingly and less successfully.But the Trendy Perpetually Aggrieved must have their narrative.
Popularity isn’t quality — we can be sure that Kanye West will sell more music than Beethoven this year, and that more young Americans will acquire STDs than Ph.D.s — but if you are a broadcaster or a political campaign, it cannot be ignored, either.The conservative temperament, dear reader, is not about presidential elections or about the polls or even about specific policies. It is about fundamental principles.
[Tales of a crack-up are] in essence a vast exercise in concern-trolling by progressives. National Review et al. have, in this analysis, simply been too effective, driving the Republican party to such exotic reaches of extremism that it is — do pardon me for noticing — winning previously unimaginable political victories in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Michigan . . .
But regardless of what happens on Election Day 2016, we will wake up in a world in which property rights need to be secured, free trade protected and expanded, government limited, the rule of law honored, children reared, citizenship cultivated, and enemies defeated. These are among what Russell Kirk called “the permanent things,” and the defense of them, which we call “conservatism,” is the permanent burden of free people. That isn’t going anywhere.So mote it be. Stay the course.