RINOs and conservatism’s future

The Conservative American

Rod Dreher

Anyone who gets drawn into the attempts to modernize the Republican Party inevitably ends up reading about the experiences of the UK and Canadian conservatives. The Canadian Conservatives went through many years in the wilderness before they eventually secured their current governing majority and the British Conservatives are also actively debating how to modernize their own party.

When an American reads the literature that these debate produce, its impossible not to feel some longing for the discussion that is taking place in other countries.

Yes, indeed. I know that David Frum and I do not agree on the kind of Republican Party and conservative movement we would like to see, but we definitely agree that this intellectual and creative stalemate we have in the GOP now is bad for conservatism, and bad for America.

The GOP establishment is completely given over to economic theories, including anti-tax orthodoxy, that might have made sense in 1980, but which are inadequate to deal with the problems we have now. As for the Tea Party, Ed Kilgore observes from the left that the movement is so emotionally driven that they devalue competence, and keep being embarrassed when their favorite candidates blow up under scrutiny.

The complaint I’m making here is not that any of these views are wrong (that’s another argument), but rather that the conservative movement and the Republican Party is so driven now by hidebound orthodoxies that it’s by and large unwelcoming to innovative thinking and creative challenge. This is unconservative, if conservatism is understood as the opposite of ideology, as Kirk had it. The whole idea of the RINO is what political correctness looks like when it manifests on the Right.

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