In my interview with Herman Cain I asked him what he would do to ensure the conservatism he wants to re-inject into the government and the Republican Party will live and prosper after he’d left office.
Without hesitating, he simply said that the practices he put into place at Godfather’s Pizza are still in place today, since most of the managers were trained by him.
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Now, this is not an insignificant subject to discuss, even this far out in front of the general election next year.
The Reagan Interlude
Ronald Reagan did not establish a conservative dynasty in 1980-88. He was the first conservative president since Coolidge-Hoover. And it didn’t last.
Ronald Reagan was as movement a conservative as you will ever know. But as all of you will recall who remember those years, by his second term he was getting on in years (he was 74 entering his second term) and quickly came under siege over Iran-Contra. His “legacy” had also been “high-jacked” (my words) by his wife Nancy, who cared much more about how Ronnie went down in history that how conservatism fared in the next generation.
A man who believed strongly in loyalty, and over the objections of many conservatives, Reagan anointed his veep, George H W Bush to be the next Republican candidate. And Bush was not a conservative.
When George H W Bush’s walked away from his “read my lips” promise in the 1990 budget deal (a predictably moderate thing to do when in a squeeze), and its use by conservative Pat Buchanan in the 1992 primaries, and Bill Clinton’s subsequent win on the same theme, George H W Bush got the heave-ho in 1992.
And, whew! (wipe’s brow) conservatism was tarred and feathered and run out of town, where it’s been hiding in plain sight on talk radio the past twenty years.
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From the two paragraphs, above, you can find several possible culprits that explain conservatism’s exile from the seat of government in America, including RR himself, nearing 80, even as I haven’t even mentioned conservatism’s greatest enemy here, the GOP establishment.
The only proven force able to fight and defeat the forces of the Left, for twenty years conservatism has wandered in the wilderness, having found sanctuary in intellectual journals of opinion (National Review) and that giant tor of the EIB network overlooking New York City. Through dozens of affiliated allies, conservatism’s armies have grown since 1992, even as they have been largely unseen and generally dismissed as a band of ragamuffins and mendicants, underrepresented in virtually every accounting of the forces that can be marshaled against the bastion of the GOP establishment. Genuflect to a few of their shibboleths and they will give their votes, that’s always been the axiom.
Having tipped its hand in 2008-2009, the Left has possibly doubled, even tripled these conservative armies in-waiting, and put the GOP Establishment in a squeeze, for even as they find themselves in the best position to actually win an election “on the merits” since 1952, they must first outmaneuver this rising specter on their right.
Now is the time for the conservatism-the-king to return and reclaim it rightful place as the heir of the Founders vision, and to secure that seat for generations to come.
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The idea of restoring America was never a simple “Hey, let’s win an election and walk back all these onerous laws and regulations, then go back to whipping up some banana pudding with vanilla wafers.
The GOP establishment thinks, finally, it’s their time. In 1988 a conservative president handed them the White House. And they blew it. In 1968 the Johnson war policy handed them the White House, and he blew it. But now, never have they seen a sitting president (duck) so weak and easy to bring down. Now is their time, they think. They think they can win, even with a McCain clone, only so far they have one who McCain beat in 2008.
All they have to do is find the right guy, and use all the financial powers available to them, and bring that candidate home.
But to do what? Other than secure their positions in Washington for at best, one or two terms, that’s about it. This is as far-sighted and philosophically deep the GOP center has ever been. It’s always been about position, power, and privilege.
There’s some history to support the certainty of where the GOP moderates will take us,, for all we need is look to Europe to see how long quarter- and half-measures last before the next, much deeper crisis has to be confronted. In their march to the abyss, Europe has chiseled out terraces so that each step closer is marked by two steps down, but where the chasm still awaits.
Of the laws and regulations that need to be repealed, they may walk back a few. And those only half way. Obamacare may be repealed on paper, but it will be allowed to continue inside the bureaucracy, gouging and scratching citizens just as it would have had a Democrat been in charge, until it will fester and erupt, and guess what? a Democrat will be sent into replace the latest Republican of Half-Measures.
Dodd-Frank will remain in place, nibbled around at the edges. Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac will remain unreformed and unpunished. As will the Global Warming scam, the green energy hoax (Solyndra), or Fast and Furious. Heads will still roll, only little heads, not big ones. The “process” (Janet Reno on Waco) will be reformed, nothing more. And yes, Iran will get the bomb.
The GOP establishment will secure itself and its patrons for as long as they can muster a 51-49 majority in the Senate, and hold onto a getting-slimmer and getting-slimmer majority in the House. Four House terms, tops.
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So, Obama’s weakness is the fulcrum around which three contests, not two, are entwined right now, for the GOP moderates see a chance to come back into national power…but they have yet to win any election from a standing start with their own positive plan for America since Ike.
But to win, they must subdue the conservatives, who probably outnumber them right now, 2 to 1, while still getting their vote. They think money will do it, just as Obama does.
Likewise, the conservatives must decide how to win while still keeping the majority of the moderate vote. This will be more difficult, since, on the issue of spite and malice in these little tiffs, as we learned in Delaware in 2010, the moderates are the more likely to suck their thumbs and stay home. Or even work for the leftists.
Since the conservatives seem to be growing in number every day, with incredibly high enthusiasm rates while moderates are still rather tepidly hanging around the 24% mark for their only candidate, Romney, which Chris Christie may want a piece of, I think the conservatives can win this match simply by playing it straight up. No gimmicks, no personal attacks, not even institutional attacks against the “squishy center” for which the GOP establishment is best known.
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For there’s a dynasty to restore and a long, long legacy to consider when conservatism comes back to town.
Every candidate, not just Herman Cain, must be able to detail how their presidency will transcend the four or eight years they will be in office. Every department of the executive (which are allowed to remain) will have to bear a conservative imprimatur that will last a generation at least. The rats that do not flee the ship will have to be ferreted out, and shown the door, or offered a box of d-Con.
Every congressional member will have to be scored and re-scored with every vote, and to do this every congressional district and state will have to establish methods (ColdWarrior’s Precinct Project comes to mind) to keep the flame of liberty burning brightly inside the very lowest levels of the new (conservative) Republican Party. These officers will be tasked to keep the fire burning in local politics, especially the schools, but also in the state capitols, so to retake the American culture on the public streets.
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Conservatism, the First Dynasty
In 1862 the Republican Party launched the American Doctrine of Liberty as a justification for the Emancipation Proclamation. In the American culture at all levels of society this doctrine held sway into the 1960s, even as our national government drifted to the left with the Wilson era. (That progressive drift was due to the fact that so many of the children of the new-found wealth in post Civil War America went abroad to study, where they learned of Marx and Hegel, then brought them home, as one might fleas or lice, where they then infested our universities.)
We no longer create the sort of plutocrats the Industrial Revolution created, and since Reagan American capitalism has produced small business entrepreneurs whose wealth is much more widely dispersed. These are most often conservatives. (It’s their kids I worry about.)
Conservatism, the Second Dynasty TBA
Therefore I have greater hope for a second dynasty of conservatism, lasting a century or more, not just a generation or two. Let’s finish what Ronnie started.
And we will, if our candidate does it right.