Saturday, March 25, 2006
With all the hype over the crunchy cons floating around the blogosphere recently, it's important to emphasize that their main foil, the "mainstream conservatives", really do exist. To be more precise, their is a substantial coherence to conservative thought in political and cultural matters among American conservatives all over the country. The Crunchy Cons themselves are more defined by lifestyle, of course, and so that makes direct contrast to the mainstreamers a little more difficult.
In general, American conservatives are defined by a half dozen or so important issues: taxes (against them), abortion (against it), strong defense (for it), liberal immigration policy (against it), judicial restraint (for it), limited government (for it), War on Terror (for it). And here, uniquely in the United States, mainstream conservatives are intellectually and demographically strong enough to be a real force in the body politic. This doesn't mean that they control everything, in the fevered imagination of a few, but rather they cannot just be bulldozed away.
The real foil for the mainstream conservatives are not Crunchy Conservatives but rather the Republican political establishment. The GOP establishment agrees with us about some things, disagrees about others, but it should be clear by now to those who follow politics closely that they are emphatically not the same thing. In particular, George W. Bush is not a mainstream conservative, and emphasized that point in several ways in the primaries long before he became President. Of course, to the essentially apolitical American, they are the same, which is why us conservatives need to be able to clearly define ourselves against the GOP establishment when the need requires.
And for this, there is essentially one arrow in the quiver: total mobilization. National Review and other organs can publish countless editorials about this or that. None of them has the remotest impact in comparison to sustained political action, especially if it is directed against the GOP. It is important to emphasize that this doesn't happen very often. The opposition to Harriet Miers was the last time, any by my reckoning the last one before that was the "bourgeois riot" against Al Gore's legal inanities in the Florida recount. In this way, the prescription drug benefit was a substantial missed opportunity, in my opinion. A strong mobilization against it might have actually done some good.