Why Conservatives Lose (#1?)

This was a comment for a post of Vox’s that got too long. Maybe I’ll write more about this topic of what “conservatism” as a political movement really is (was) and why it’s bound to lose. But here’s a major reason, riffing off another comment there:

Conservatives refuse to entertain the thought that the left means business, and plays for keeps.

Conservatives, most being at least nominally Christian, believe that “the truth will set you free,” but they mistakenly apply that to politics and social issues, instead of only faith where it belongs.

Thing is, no one’s born politically conservative, and they don’t teach it in schools. You might be born with a conservative temperament in a conservative family and neighborhood, but then you get a steady diet of liberalism from society as you grow up. So usually, conservatism is something you discover later. (This is probably why Republican politicians seem so fake, by the way. Their bios will talk about how they were president of their Young Republicans chapter by age 15, or as one Cruz ad said, spending “a lifetime fighting for conservative ideals.” Normal people don’t work that way.)

Conservatism (ditto libertarianism) comes in “Aha!” moments later in life, when you read something or listen to someone and it clicks and you say, “Well, of course that’s how it works. It’s so obvious. Of course people will be lazy and unproductive if you feed them from the common weal. Of course more private gun ownership leads to less crime.” Or whatever that moment of clarity is about. And since it’s now so obvious to you, it seems like it should be obvious to others if they would just listen.

So you don’t need to deport anyone, or even defeat anyone, really — all those unpleasantries can be avoided — you just need to spread the Good Word of Conservatism.

And what’s better for sharing the Word than a big ol’ revival tent? It needs to be really big, so you can get all the people in there who think conservatism is their enemy: the freaks and libertines, the socialists, the illegal invaders, the recipients of government checks — yep, a realllllly big tent. And you may have to compromise on many things to get all those people to enter your tent long enough to hear the Word. But it’ll all be worth it, because it’ll be easy to roll back those compromises when we’re all one big happy conservative family.

That’s part of what we’re seeing in the Trump frenzy, with basically decent people who have been fighting a losing battle all their political careers saying, “What was wrong with our big-tent-outreach approach?”  Well, nothing, except that you consistently lose.  There have been two of what might be considered conservative victories in my lifetime: the election of Ronald Reagan (and you could argue how much that had to do with conservative policy stances, and how much because he gave people a sense of pride and hope in America), and the Contract with America in 1994, which was an exciting moral victory that had no lasting effect because they didn’t pass the most important point — term limits.

So now the proletariat of the Republican Party — many of them “gut conservatives” even though they couldn’t pick Russell Kirk out of an NBA lineup — wants to try something different, something that kinda feels a bit like 1980 again, and the elitist leaders don’t want to allow it?  Well, screw them.  Their way hasn’t worked, doesn’t work, won’t work.  We may not get conservative victories from Trump, but we just may.  We certainly wouldn’t have gotten them from the same old pack of fools with the same old tactics of strategic retreat.


10 thoughts on “Why Conservatives Lose (#1?)

  1. Conservative Inc., figures lose because deep down inside they don’t really believe they deserve to win. Ever since William F. Buckley published National Review #1, they’ve operated from the premise that it’s a liberal world and they need to make themselves respectable in the eyes of their liberal masters before begging for a few crumbs from the table.

  2. Beefy,
    It often strikes me in a similar way. The Conservative position has become the “nice guy”, constantly negotiating from a position of inner weakness for recognition of some moral credit for this desire to serve the population at-large – all while most of that population continues to serve themselves, mock, deride, and undermine those very things the Conservative claim to “conserve” in their name.

    In reality, they desire to be valued for their perpetual appeal to the higher (liberal) authority, for the act or idea of conserving *something*. They get agitated, lash out, and feverishly posture among themselves whenever their “niceness” doesn’t yield them their morsels of goodfeelz from the Liberal power structures. A guy like Trump is basically showing those omega men that their niceness is not only irrelevant but is demonstrable of serious flaws in their character; a weakness that they delude themselves into believing is a strength. And the constant attempts to get the rest of us to buy into that delusion are running threadbare in contrast. Its pathetic. There needs to be some meta “No More Mr. Nice Guy” awakening.

    That, or they need to finally just assume their position as useful idiots within the liberal machine where they can stand arm-in-arm with the disgruntled vegans-for-Bernie who want to die but have yet to find a way that their Facebook friends would celebrate with the appropriate monikers.

    Of course just like those Nice Guys, it often requires too much work to unwind the programming that feed into the affliction, so they will just keep doubling down, prostrating before the Liberal hot chick even after she bails on their study session to blow the entire football team. He just needs to be more nice!

    Eventually, they may just get a seat at the table with the popular kids, but by then whatever kernel of actual conservativism was in them will have blossomed into full-libtard. And their newfound swagger from those few winks from the hot-chicks will have them barking down at the rest of us poor fools who “just don’t get it” and are determined to be on “the wrong side of history.” See: Paul Ryan.

  3. Conservatives “fail”, in my judgment, simply because we not not see every life issue in strictly ideological terms, as the left does. The true conservative tends to think in such realities as faith and family, kith and kin; and political ideology is extruded from these substantives, i.e., the “A ha!” moment comes later. The atomized Liberal Man, by contrast STARTS with his ideology and abstractions.

  4. I agree with everything above. Conservatives are desperate to be accepted by the leftist system they live in and to be the “nice guy.”

    And, as Colorado said, conservatives view politics and personal life separately. Leftists view it as one in the same. They are ideological creatures. It’s why they have no shame in posting political things on Facebook or bringing it up with strangers at dinner. Conservatives are taught that politics should not be outwardly displayed, and should only be incidental to their relationships.

  5. Conservatives “fail”, in my judgment, simply because we not not see every life issue in strictly ideological terms, as the left does.

    There’s something in that.

    Liberals are fighting a total war with their objective being the complete and utter destruction of their enemies. They intend to take no prisoners. They are ruthless and they are focused. They do not believe in compromise. They are full-time warriors.

    Conservatives are trying to fight a limited war with the objective of trying to avoid total defeat. They’re sure that the best way to avoid total defeat is to retreat the moment they’re attacked. At the same time they don’t want to upset anybody and they want their enemies to like them. They like to believe they can win by offering compromises but the conservative idea of compromise is abject surrender.

  6. Conservatives also lose because they don’t really believe what they’re saying. Their talking heads go on TV or on the Senate/House floor and say things they don’t truly believe. They advocate for things they don’t want for themselves or the country, because they think it’s what “the base” wants to hear.

  7. Conservatives want to see themselves as ‘nice guys’ but nice guys don’t fight tooth and nail for survivial. Even if they would, they don’t want to be seen as such awful people to the society at large. When was the last time you heard anyone say they’d kill to protect their family?

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with this piece except I must say that I hate term limits. It’s ok for the President but it is wrongheaded when applied to most other legislative offices, in my thoroughly arrogant opinion. I’m glad that proposal went nowhere and I hope it always goes nowhere. There is no substitute for knowledgeable intelligent serious voters. NONE!!! Term limits just creates a revolving door for the crooks and solves nothing. Exhibit A: Gruberfornia, where there are very strict term limits, and did they save us Gruberfornians from being taken over by Grubers? NO!!!

  9. You’re probably right; term limits aren’t a panacea. The political class is very good at getting around whatever limits we try to put on their power, since they have all day to work at it and plenty of incentive to do so.

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