"...all three of these options involve long-term solutions for conservatives, and many conservative donors are hungry for short-term victories."

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Aaron Blumer's picture


The author dismisses the option of conservatives adopting more broadly persuasive arguments.

"There seems to be an assumption among many conservatives today that they can still garner widespread agreement on these values apart from people’s metaphysical convictions and commitments (whether religious or not)… that they can find the magical wording or messaging that will appeal to people irrespective of their diverse beliefs."

But from my point of view, this has barely been tried.

Part of the reason is that "conservatism" itself can no longer remember what it is, other than a few pockets of internally consistent perspective here and there. So you can't appeal to pragmatic arguments coherently if you don't have a coherent political philosophy to start with. Instead, we have a "conservatism" that is kind of an idea salad in which there are a few more tomatoes, a bit less lettuce than the idea salad that is liberalism/progressivism. And the rhetoric is, as Wilson was observing yesterday, mostly emoting.  ... cliches and slogans. ... and contradictions.

So I'd point more in the direction of conservatism taking the longer term strategy of getting its own house in order then aiming to win hearts and minds as much as possible in these disordered times. "Evangelicals" in particular have put too much of their resources into winning coercive battles--passing legislation and otherwise regulating the culture externally--while increasing numbers of people simply don't think straight. You can only accomplish so much by constraining from the outside. And when you lose your consensus, then what?

But the author is definitely right about the curse of short term thinking. The GOP can't seem to think beyond November, when--if "successful"--they'll have managed to put an overgrown spoiled brat in the Whitehouse... who will make the GOP stink worse and worse for the next four years and probably beyond. Talk about short term thinking.