4. Today the Conservative Movement Lies Fragmented, Infiltrated, Compromised, and Corrupted.
How can we fully rebut the Left’s smears of the Right when there’s usually an element of truth to every attack?
Something to note in Prager’s terminology: he chooses “Americanism” not “Rightism” or “Conservatism.” This is an important distinction and one he mentioned in his interview with PJTV.
Conservatives and those on the American political Right may articulate American values, but these two interrelated (and not synonymous) movements are not based in promoting them. “The Right” in any country refers to the side of the political spectrum that embraces a nationalist identity over an internationalist one. Thus, among the American Right there are numerous nationalist tendencies, and they don’t all agree about just what it means to be an American — just that it’s important for us to be one. Likewise among those in William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Conservative movement” there’s a general agreement about “standing athwart history yelling stop,” and the need to conserve American greatness. But there’s plenty of disagreement about what really needs to be conserved and how to do it.
In Chapter 3 Prager discusses “Why the Left Succeeds.” His third point: demonization of the Right. He notes the frequency with which leftists employ charges of racism, homophobia, and other smears.
Beyond the scope of the book, though, is the reality of a Conservative movement that tolerates a whole host of individuals and ideas in direct opposition to the American values Prager describes.
Ann Coulter in March:
“And just a more corporate problem is I think our party and particularly our movement, the conservative movement, does have more of a problem with con men and charlatans than the Democratic Party,” she said. “I mean, the incentives seem to be set up to allow people — as long as you have a band of a few million fanatical followers, you can make money. The Democrats have managed to figure out how not to do that.”
And who are the crackpots at the edges who live up to the Left’s demonizations about bigotry, cronyism, rigid ideology, and selfishness?
- Antisemitic Paleo-Conservatives (Pat Buchanan)
- Admitted White Nationalist Racists who write well
- Anti-American and Antisemitic Anarcho-Capitalists and Paleo-Libertarians (Ron Paul’s cult reviving the ideas of the Old Right) who see nothing wrong with Iran going nuclear
- Conspiracy Theorists making a fast buck peddling Birtherism and other nonsense like the US merging with Canada and Mexico
- People who really do Hate Gay People and are just using opposition to gay marriage as cover for their bigotry
- Stealth Jihadists Subverting the GOP’s Commitment to a Foreign Policy of Peace through Strength (See the Center for Security Policy’s full dossier on Grover Norquist and his protege Suhail Khan here.)
- Theocrats (Exhibit A: Those who refuse to support Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon.)
- Anti-Abortion Fanatics (Not the same as sane, pro-life activism that aims to change hearts through love and reason rather than shock and judgment.)
- Narcissists who want to Turn Themselves into a Brand so they can transform their political connections into Greek cruises and large credit accounts at Tiffany’s.
- Corporatists who peddle influence.
All these groups and tendencies compete within “the Right” and “the Conservative movement” for money, power, and converts. And their roots go too deep to be upended.