Alternate Universe: Conservatism Defined Down

The conservative movement is a far piece from where it was in 2008. I recall when Sarah Palin was named “Conservative of the Year” by Human Events Magazine in ’08, and Ann Coulter wrote the article about it.

In 2010, there was an election in which Palin and the Tea Party were very influential forces, and a number of conservatives won seats in the Congress.

But in 2011, things changed. Coulter was no longer praising Palin, as she had done in 2008. Instead, she was smearing her on Laura Ingraham’s radio program, with Ingraham piling on the attack against the GOP’s most recent vice presidential candidate and the first woman to have that distinction.

Now in 2012, we have the spectacle of Rush Limbaugh shilling for Mitt Romney and attacking Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Former editorial sources of conservative comfort, including National Review and the Washington Examiner, have endorsed Romney and are attacking Gingrich and Perry. But mostly they rail against Gingrich because he’s one within striking distance of Romney.

It’s like the familiar “alternate universe” science fiction plot in which the protagonist wakes up one day and finds himself in a world which looks exactly like the one he’s known all his life, but people familiar to him are behaving in quite unfamiliar ways. They seem like pod people whose bodies have been inhabited by some alien consciousness. It’s as if the world he knew had suddenly gone mad.

What happened to erstwhile conservatives in the year between the 2010 midterm elections and late last year? I’m at a loss to explain it and can only take my best guess. I think its because conservatives are so desperate to hold Barack Obama to a single presidential term that they are willing to define down their conservatism because they have been convinced that is the only way to send him packing. They have bought into the “electability” myth — hook, line and sinker.

Such desperation has led conservatives to ignore that tiny voice of skepticism that used to be ever present in their heads. No longer listening to their inner skeptic, they have sadly become gullible creatures. How else can one explain the internals of recent surveys which show some who self-identify as “very conservative” or “tea party members” tell the pollsters that they intend to vote for Romney? Say what you will about the former governor, he was never a movement conservative, and despite his attempts to reach out to the tea party movement, its members never accepted him as one of their own, as they did Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and other populist-leaning conservatives.

South Caroline and its rapidly approaching GOP presidential primary may be the last stand for Ronald Reagan conservatism. If we define it down to some ConservativeLite® alternate-universe conservatism, the rock-solid principles the great man worked for, stood for and governed by will crumble into dust. If true conservatives cannot put aside their differences and unite behind the conservative candidate closest to Gov. Romney in the latest polls, they’ve lost the battle and perhaps the greater war. Morning in America will become our past instead of our hopeful present, and that city on a hill will have lost its shine. And our hero in the science fiction story will never get back to his real world, but will remain trapped in a story arc in which he discovers — to his horror — that he has become the alien.

- JP

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