Above all else, movement conservatives want to retain custody of what it means to be a conservative. They claim to hold the keys to the city, and they guard them jealously – which is why someone like Conor is met with such unrestrained bile when he challenges the status quo. Anyone who strays from the accepted talking points becomes an apostate. Anyone who criticizes the movement or its hallowed leaders – as Conor did – is railed against with feverish abandon.
This smacks of fear and pride. A sort of blind, intellectually bankrupt hubris. And it’s exactly what’s rotting out the conservative movement from the inside. Conservatives shouldn’t worry about “traitors” like Conor or Rod Dreher. Those who care enough about conservatism to point out its flaws aren’t working for the opposition – they’re trying to reshape conservatism, much as William F. Buckley did not so long ago, into something viable and vital and above all else, relevant. They’re trying to push the conversation in a new direction, whether or not they’re met time and again with resentment, calls of “RINO” etc. All the misleading quotations, strawmen, and ad hominem lobbed in their direction won’t change that fact. The tent that Reagan built is getting smaller and smaller.
This is what happens when you paint yourself into such a narrow ideological corner. It’s easier to hurl insults than to attempt to come up with new ideas, easier to impute bad faith to others than to argue in good faith yourself. That’s why the movement needs to be broken, burned, unwoven – so that it can rise up from the ashes. Otherwise we’re left with a one-party America, and an overly powerful Democratic majority. That’s something that dissident conservatives and mainstreamers should both be afraid of.
And the big tent just keeps shrinking.
[Too much invective for my own taste in the first edition of this post. Thanks to several Gentlemen who shall not be named for speaking reason to reaction. Thus the (unprecedented) edit.]