February 11, 2016

BEN SHAPIRO on How Attitude Trumped Conservative Thought:

On Monday, grassroots Republican favorite Donald Trump repeated the phrase when an audience member called Ted Cruz a “p—-.” He came to this conclusion after determining that Cruz wasn’t sufficiently gung-ho about waterboarding possible terrorists. Asked to define conservatism at the last Republican debate, Trump stated, “I think it’s a person who doesn’t want to take overly risks. I think that’s a good thing.”

On Tuesday, establishment Republican favorite columnist David Brooks of The New York Times wrote a column called “I Miss Barack Obama.” In it, he pilloried Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and lamented that Obama “radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss.” In October, Brooks defined conservatism thusly: “conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible.”

Neither of these definitions are correct, of course. But the fact that Trump and Brooks largely agree on the definition of conservatism while fighting each other tooth and nail demonstrates why conservatism is losing.

Read the whole thing, though missing from the article is the damage done by George W. Bush; as good a man as he personally is, the notion of “compassionate conservatism” (read: “big government conservatism”) and statements such as  “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move” (ditto) did much to damage the brand of conservatism. They led inexorably — or perhaps sprang from — what Shapiro describes as the idea that “At some point, Republicans forgot that their job was to determine the best face for a conservative philosophy, and instead substituted the face for the philosophy. The conservatism simply fell away.”

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