A post-mortem for pragmatism

Yesterday the country delivered a well-deserved “fuck you” to the Republican Party, and while I don’t think that this bodes in the least bit well for the future of the nation, it does provide me with no small measure of cold amusement, even schadenfreude.

Many were extremely skeptical when I wrote last year that the Republican party had likely hit its peak of power that was likely to recede, although the apparent loss of both the House and Senate is taking place two years sooner than I thought it would. (I assumed one house would go to the Democrats this time around, followed by the other one in company with the Cherry Blossom Throne in 2008.) The results mean that Hillary Clinton is almost assured to be the next president of the United States, as even massive blunders by an overstepping Reid-Pelosi Congress will be blamed, not necessarily inaccurately, on President Bush by the Democratic media. How deep the Republican plunge will go or how long it will last, I do not know, but this election by no means marks the nadir.

The turn of the century was supposed to be the triumph of the conservatives. From the dark era of the Democrat-dominated ’60s and ’70s, conservatives began their protracted march toward electoral power, culminating finally in the long-awaited capture of all three branches of the federal government. The Reagan Revolution was finally to be realized in earnest!

But just as most Republican Supreme Court nominees have turned out to be treacherous supporters of big government – activist liberals in disguise – their legislative- and executive-branch colleagues likewise revealed themselves to be every bit as unfaithful to conservative principles of small government and individual freedom. As is all too often the case, conservative success carried within it the seeds of its own demise.

Real conservatives now understand they have been betrayed – badly – by this fraudulent man. Compassionate conservatism, as it turns out, is simply another name for Great Society liberalism, and not even the Texas swagger is original. Genuinely conservative Republicans are dismayed by the president’s unveiling of his core liberalism and rightly fear for the future of a party which has likely seen its high-water mark already.

The coming conservative collapse
September 19, 2005

The constant push to the left by “pragmatic conservatives” notwithstanding, the fact is that the Republicans cannot win consistently without strong conservative candidates. There is a reason that a neo-Wilsonian LBJ-clone like George W. Bush had to be clad in conservative’s clothing, after all, and even so, he didn’t come anywhere close to approaching the Reagan landslides. Although it appears counterintuitive to shallow observers, the “Democrat Light” approach is futile. Supposedly electable moderates like Giuliani and McCain are actually far less electable than a solid conservative governor with no national following.

The stupid thing about political pragmatism is that there is nothing pragmatic about it. It’s a losing electoral strategy, and even when it works, it prevents the party from achieving any of its goals. As I wrote in September 2003:

Pragmatism in politics is self-defeating in the long run. It is a euphemism for the slow sacrifice of one’s principles. The constant substitution of “electable” moderates for principled conservatives is what repeatedly kills the Republican Party and prevents it from ever realizing even a small part of its platform when it is in power.”

But enough of the “I told you so”. What about the future? What is to be done? Nothing, because the elders of the Republican party have not even begun to absorb the lessons of their defeat, nor will they consider doing so until they have been repeatedly driven home by a two-term Rodham reign. Nor should genuine conservatives shed any tears for the defeated neocons, compassionate conservatives and strong government Republicans, even if it takes another 40 years in the political wilderness for Republicans to reconsider Reaganism. Once more, I repeat myself:

It is time for conservatives to abandon their allegiance to the Republican Party, which in its tripartite power has revealed itself to be far from the party of freedom and small government it billed itself to be when it claimed the presidency in 1980. Yes, this means that the Democrats will win in 2008, which they are sure to do anyhow when the Elder Gods of the Inner Circle dig up the corpse of Bob Dole, rename him and offer him as a sacrifice to the Lizard Queen.
Hot-air Republicans
May 8, 2006