March 30, 2005
Recent criticisms of the Republican Party from such diverse and popular voices as Glenn Reynolds, Ryan Sager of the NY Post, and Andrew Sullivan have Liberals and Democrats giddy with excitement, hoping that for the GOP majority the end is neigh. Most recently, they are trumpeting the idea that the party has been damaged by overreach in the Terri Shiavo case that will come back to haunt it. But Jonah Goldberg at NRO puts this into perspective:
Â“True, the conservative coalition has its share of contradictions, but that's to be expected of any growing ideological movement or political party. Franklin Roosevelt's coalition included racist southerners, progressive blacks and Jews, liberal reformers, grafters, and machine bosses. These people fought a lot. They fought over policy, and they debated who really had Roosevelt's support. From the 1920s to the 1950s, a debate raged around the question, 'Whither liberalism?" Was it over? When did it die? What does it mean now?'"Goldberg describes how the growth of modern Conservatism began with in the 1950Â’s with William F. BuckleyÂ’s introduction of National Review, when he and Conservative theorist Frank Meyer created Â“fusionismÂ” Â– based on the idea the freedom and virtue are inseparable (i.e. Â“virtue not freely chosen is not virtuousÂ”).
"As conservatism blossomed in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan, some conservatives jumped ship, unwilling to accept the compromises and responsibilities of power. The late "paleocon" Samuel Francis bemoaned the Reaganites as "hapless" sellouts. Others among his confreres banged their spoons on their highchairs because "neocons" got jobs in the administration they felt were rightly theirs. On foreign policy, realists, neoconservatives and traditional anti-Communists tussled in an endless mosh pit."
Despite the rantings of Pat Buchanan at the GOP convention in 1992 and dire warnings from within, conservative ideas prospered in the years that followed with the Republicans taking control of Congress and despite having a Democrat in the White House. And lately it seems that the same kind of predictions are now flying around despite the GOPÂ’s continuing victories in each election cycle.
But contrast this debating of ideas and diversity of opinion within the party against the single-minded, lock-step doctrine (and decreasing voter registration) exhibited by the Democrats. As Goldberg explains:
At least with the Republicans, when you disagree they donÂ’t try to kick you out of the party, as the Democrats are currently trying to do to Sen. Joe Lieberman.
"Personally, I dislike much of Bush's "compassionate conservatism." Indeed, I find it astounding that even as Bush has moved the Republican agenda leftward in many key respects, the left has screamed all the louder about how "right wing" he is. But simply because I think Bush is wrong about, say, Medicare, it doesn't mean I think it's a sign the conservative movement is falling apart. Lots of folks thought FDR's New Deal was a disaster at the time, and look how that turned out."
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