September 29, 2015


To arch-conservatives, however, Senator Goldwater’s campaign laid the groundwork for America’s conservative revolution. His doctrine of low taxes and limited government became bedrock ideals for Ronald Reagan, who campaigned for Goldwater before becoming governor of California. The conservative Heritage Foundation calls Goldwater “the most consequential loser in American politics.”

Today, much remains to play out, and the establishment almost always has the last word. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) of California, a Boehner protégé, is a front-runner for the speaker’s post. And the presidential election, in many ways, has barely even started.

Yet even if the establishment reestablishes some measure of control, does the Republican Party need a Goldwater moment?

With Mr. Boehner’s departure, the tea party has outlasted a man of legendary political patience.* In the presidential race, they have taken a process that the Republican Party designed specifically to help establishment candidates and emphatically done the opposite.

In other words, there is little evidence to suggest the Republican populist rebellion is going away, though seismic changes in the country since 1964 – partly as a result of the conservative revolution – mean that the underlying situation is in many ways dramatically different.

On its face, today’s Republican insurgency echoes the conservative groundswell for Goldwater in 1964. The Atlantic’s Matthew Dallek writes that “in the late 1950s and early 1960s conservatives were widely dismissed as ‘kooks’ and ‘crackpots’ with no hope of winning political power.” Today, the conservative base is looked upon even by the Republican Party as “crazies,” said Michael Needham of Heritage Action Sunday. Mr. Boehner, only somewhat more charitably, called them “false prophets.”

“Absolutely, they’re unrealistic!” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

So just to confirm, the editors Christian Science Monitor who signed off on this article by Mark Sappenfield, one of their staff writers, believe that those Americans who want the government to follow the Constitution, be fiscally responsible,  and generally leave them alone — are “arch-conservatives” (are there any “arch-leftists” in the CSM’s worldview?) “kooks,” “crackpots,” and “crazies.”

If you’re a subscriber to the CSM, next time the re-subscription offer arrives, at least you know what the magazine thinks of you. And this is yet another reminder, that as Glenn noted in December of 2012, instead of throwing millions of dollars of advertising money into a furnace during the election year, if conservative and libertarian bigwigs really want to influence the culture, they need to be investing in magazines and TV channels that exist outside of the right-wing echo chamber.

* Conversely, this article also speaks volumes about Boehner’s ineffectiveness as a leader when he’s being so effusively praised by the other side of the aisle.

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