CONSERVATISM, the darling of intellectuals and upstarts in her prime, has died. The news was confirmed Tuesday, Jan 19 through various publicists and pundits.
The world has lost so many wonderful artists and thinkers this last year, but this is the one that will sting the most.
Born November 19, 1955, she became known as a stalwart against government growth and cronyism. She stood for small government, individual responsibility, thoughtful policy, and historical conscience. The greatest intellectual minds in the country began to coalesce, building a network of think tanks dedicated to arguing for and implementing a conservative agenda in an America that had become quite Progressive.
Upon her birth, the late William F Buckley declared she “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” If Calvin Coolidge saved the Republican Party from total Progressive disaster, Conservatism was his natural heir.
She grew into an intellectual force espousing such radical ideas as resisting conformity, rejecting multiculturalism and its diluting effect, abhorring the principles of the New Deal, and most fundamentally, defining the proper role of centralized government at all levels and it’s relationship with the individual.
Throughout her life, Conservatism saw her popularity and influence ebb and flow as Americans took long to understand the inherent failure of government preeminence, and embrace all aspects of the constitution, not merely those portions taken out of context by Statist lawyers, legislators and judges.
During the 1964 presidential election, she took a great risk in bringing forth an Arizona hawk, Barry Goldwater, whose style might have been out of sync with America’s recent grieving the loss of John F Kennedy, but surely set the course for defining the Republican Party as a “conservative” one. Though progressives pushed once more with the boorishness of Nixon, voters realized this old brand of Republicanism wasn’t working. By 1980, the Party, and America were ready for Ronald Reagan, the Great Persuader and Communicator who brought the message of individualism and top-down opportunity into every American home. The stranglehold of government on American lives began to wane and a revolution was begun across the states.
As national politics went through cycles of Party control, Conservatism succeeded in building its own Establishment with which to battle the Progressive branch. Leaders like Jack Kemp, Milton Freidman, Connie Mack, and Phyllis Schlafly moved the needle ever rightward on Old Right icons such as Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Even the Democratic Party was – to a degree – forced to abide the conservative momentum during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Unfortunately, this growth in maturity suffered some negligent hubris during the early 2000’s with blunders like No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D and the vast Patriot Act spreading the hand of centralized government over the American people.
Thankfully, the roots established by Conservatism began to blossom again like a perennial flower bringing forth a new revolution dedicated to taking up the mantle of constitutional republican ideals and economic prosperity based on individual freedom. Leaders like Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Jim Demint, and others began to prove the merits of her philosophy and showed the success that comes from it. In a party whose conservative conscience was once considered Senator Bill Frist and Newt Gingrich, we now have Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson along with House leaders like Thomas Massie, Justin Amash and Jim Jordan. The political mean has moved so much that we have now have arguably the most constitutional, originalist Republican Party in over 100 years. Conservatism deserves the credit for her steadfast devotion to ideas, consistency and civil interaction.
But all great legends must meet death’s call.
On the morning of January 19, 2016, Sarah Palin, a former governor of Alaska and figurehead of the modern conservative movement joined hands with a lifelong liberal Democrat, Donald tRump, a populist more like George Wallace than Teddy Roosevelt. The embrace of tRump’s message of bigotry, nationalism and chosen ignorance has led to a fracturing in not just the Republican Party, but also the legacy of Conservatism itself. After seven years of experimenting with lawless socialism, America is coming back to its soulful beginning. The Republican Party is on the verge of controlling more government bodies in the United States than ever before in history, while adhering more to a conservative creed than any time in the modern era. But rather than debating ideas and nuance, we duck sucker punches, insults, jabs, social media-driven hatred and at least 60% of the base prefers shallow leadership over those with experience and successful resumes of conservative policy.
The world lost a great defender in Conservatism today, and America in particular. Her children have moved on to other nations around the world, but here at home her message seems no longer welcome. She died a loud and violent death, and her absence will likely go unnoticed by some until it’s too late. Her memory will live on in the hearts of those who fought hardest. We must never lose sight of her goal to make America believe in its own greatness, rather than believe in an authoritarian bully to do so in his own image.
We need someone to pick up that mantle and lead for us again. Who will resurrect the vision of the New Right and bring about a new century to call our own?
Memorial services will be held at the National Review headquarters.
UPDATE – January 22, 2016:
Speaking of National Review, last night several of the editors and nearly a dozen deeply conservative, tea party founders and grassroots activists came together to denounce the tRump campaign for the Republican Party nomination. “AGAINST TRUMP.” Writers and leaders from Erick Erickson and Dana Loesch to Thomas Sowell have joined 19 others in establishing the wall against populism that has threatened our movement. It appears there are still a band of those willing to stand athwart history and yell Stop!
The full list of conservatives: David Boaz, Glenn Beck, Brent Bozell, Mona Charen, Ben Domenech, Erick Erickson, Steven F Hayward, Mark Helprin, William Kristol, Yuval Levin, Dana Loesch, Andrew C McCarthy, David M McIntosh, Michael Medved, Edwin Meese III, Russell Moore, Michael Mukasey, Katie Pavlich, John Podhoretz, RR Reno, Thomas Sowell, Cal Thomas.