'Destroy Conservatism Forever'? Well, If They Insist
Never Trumper Tom Nichols cautioned on Twitter the other day that it was a “strategic error" for liberals to think there's a chance to rid ourselves of conservatism when we kick Donald Trump to the curb.
This is an odd bit of concern trolling. I don't see much evidence that liberals want to "destroy conservatism forever." It's usually Democrats who speak about the value of a strong two-party system. Even in 2016, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went out of their way to separate Trump from the GOP as a whole.
It's important to note that it was Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution of 1994 that sought to demonize liberalism in general as illegitimate. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Dan Crenshaw proudly carry on this work.
Joe Biden is likely the final Democratic presidential candidate to personally recall a time when Republicans were “almost respectable." Conservatives still wanted to drown government in the bathtub but their go-to political strategy wasn't always deceit and obstructionism. When I was growing up, Republicans had the likes of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond in their ranks, so I was never a fan. But Nichols and Joe Scarborough, for instance, are in their late 50s and have a rosier memory of conservatism in action. It was certainly more polite than Trump, and the Roy Cohns and Lee Atwaters remained in the shadows, producing Willie Horton ads.
What's frustrating is that Nichols doesn't consider why “mainstream Democrats" such as Biden, Chuck Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi are more tolerant of Republicans. After the Cold War, conservatives decided "the Left" would replace "the commies" as America's enemy. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was five years old when Gingrich became House speaker. She'll be 31 on Election Day. She's young but hardly a child. The GOP of her lifetime is Gingrich, the Tea Party, and Trump. Conservatives would be hard-pressed to explain why she should trust Republicans or not want to destroy conservatism outright.
Nichols might argue that he's only defending conservatism as a philosophy, not the Republican Party, but if that's the case, why is he worried about liberals “destroying" conservatism at the polls? The greatest threat to conservatism over the past 25 years has been its own political success. The supposed “good" conservatives and Republicans lost in 1996, 2008, and 2012. If conservatism is dying, Republican victories in 2010, 2014, and especially 2016 are the culprits.
Few Republicans are interested in moving past Trump, even as his polls numbers tank. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, once considered the “future" of the post-Trump GOP, is a fully committed Trump apologist. Haley's the former governor of South Carolina, where COVID-19 is as plentiful as pimento cheese, and she's worried about the Squad, who are no more "radical" than the Tea Party.
Do Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer really have the courage to stand up to AOC, the rest of “The Squad,”… https://t.co/USVJfPyM0N— Nikki Haley (@Nikki Haley) 1594655156.0
You'd have to be pretty dumb and racist to think four first-term congresswomen of color are an existential threat to the nation, but Haley wants the support of Trump voters, who are pretty dumb and racist. Last year, Haley straight-up lied about the Green New Deal, claiming it promoted abortion for the purposes of population control. The Green New Deal didn't mention abortion.
Liberals continue to go around the country touting their radical climate change agenda.
Front and center was their "Green New Deal.'" Or as we at Stand For America have come to call it, the "Green New Scam.'" The candidates touted everything from putting limits on red meat consumption, to promoting abortion in third world countries to control the population!
We must stand up to these liberals, and let them know that we don't support this radical agenda!
Haley can't engage in a simple policy debate on climate change without resorting to scare tactics. Idealized conservatism might exist in some form on the op-ed pages or an MSNBC show panel, but whatever remains of it in the modern GOP deserves to be extinguished. There's nothing worth saving.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."