Conservatives are bracing for a harsh battle on the horizon, and it’s not with liberals. That time will come. But first there is the wrath of establishment Republicans sensing their era is fading.
The conciliatory breed of Republican that once had a place on American political soil found a comfort zone forging deals with Democrats who met them in the middle. But those Democrats are long extinct.
Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner might be the last of those dinosaurs, shown the door by conservatives wrestling control of the party away from warriors unfit for battle.
Give this to Democrats: They fight. They fight climate change, income inequality, incursions against the sacrament of abortion and anything else that alarms them. While the left has made America comfortable with astronomical spending, nonchalance toward global jihad and cultural shifts toppling tradition after tradition, the Republican leadership for more than a generation has been about compromising core beliefs.
A dozen liberal columnists on a bender could not craft a piece as insulting to conservatism as the recent David Brooks column titled, “The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus.”
The wailing within its paragraphs is the sound of influence being ripped from the hands that have been at the wheel for too long. Candidates, donors, consultants and pundits are used to spending these fall days prior to election years scouting the landscape for the latest tepid standard-bearer to thrust at GOP voters. But this time those voters are saying no.
The thirst for change is so strong that half of the poll numbers are swallowed by three candidates – Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina – with no political experience and one – Ted Cruz – who has used his brief time in office to battle members of both parties who have cooked this stew we are in.
Jeb Bush cannot believe he has not run away with this thing by now. Establishment power brokers are stunned that they are losing influence by the day. And David Brooks is freaking out that the kind of Republican he prefers might not call the shots for a while.
Conservatism, he says, stands for “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. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions.”
Do they really? What exactly are the “reforms” that have matched Barack Obama in the marketplace? How is that “measured” approach working out? Are our institutions so well-run by the John Boehner/Mitch McConnell leadership model?
The David Brooks brand of conservatism is a dull knife brought to a gunfight. The deep desire for stronger leaders means his brand of Republican might be losing influence, and that has turned some mannerly souls into name-calling flamethrowers. Candidates and their supporters actually interested in changing the sorry status quo are pilloried as unhinged radicals.
Lukewarm Republicans and their amen choruses are flashing an aggression toward conservatives that they rarely muster toward actual liberals. If the establishment had been half as aggressive toward Democrats as their current tirades against conservatives, maybe they wouldn’t be on their way to irrelevancy.