Are we conservative? It’s a question worth asking.
Christopher Bedford writes: When the biggest-drawing presidential candidate is a socialist, when the Republican front-runner is a reality TV star, it’s worth wondering if we ever really were. We: The Americans.
“So two months before John F. Kennedy would defeat Richard M. Nixon, 90 or so young men and women gathered at the Sharon, Connecticut estate of their young leader, William F. Buckley, to declare, ‘In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.'”
Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan. These men bestrode 20th century politics, each standing for largely different things. So how could sound political conservatism be the reason for Mr. Reagan’s popularity when Messrs. Roosevelts each represent its rejection?
“The ‘certain eternal truths’ that followed were the most succinct explanation of American political conservatism since the Bill of Rights — and remain so today.”
Maybe the real reason all three ascended wasn’t necessarily their ideas, but how they made Americans feel in their moment of crisis.
“Fifty five years after Sharon, the things we stood for remain much the same. So make your case to America, conservatives. Now as much as ever.”
In our moment of crisis, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump seem to have harnessed something similar: A populism, which drawing its power from the industrialists, the Depression, the Malaise, the illegals or the bankers, has captivated the people.
All populists respond to the peculiar interests of their times, but beyond his ascension, Mr. Reagan was right for his. And his ideas — our ideas — are right for now.
Because populism being popular doesn’t mean right-thinking isn’t the solution, any more than eight disastrous years under this White House do. Thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to Edmund Burke flourished because they — their ideas, their values, their civilizations — were in grave danger, and long since, we’ve trudged through dark days to build the greatest civilization the world has ever seen.
It’s likely that America isn’t necessarily conservative now any more than it was in the days of Roosevelts or Reagans, but before the Republican Party — led astray by a quarter century of Bush Republicanism — settles for an easy, gut-level populism, remember that conservatives have had the solution in the past. And have those solutions still. Read the rest of this entry »
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) April 26, 2015
By the time this is done, Baltimore is going to look like Baltimore.
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) April 26, 2015