Thursday, October 1, 2009



By Will Munsil - ASU

I begin by clarifying objectives: Like you, I desire a vibrant, intellectually serious, politically ascendant conservatism.

In political debates, we are often grateful for aid, from wherever it may come. But in the current struggle — a necessary one, I hasten to add — against the political agenda of President Barack Obama, too many conservatives have fallen to the temptation to find no enemies to the Right.

This has meant we have accepted, tacitly or explicitly, the aid of Glenn Beck, Orly Taitz, Michael Savage and the thousand anonymous lunatics called “Birthers” who maintain, clear evidence to the contrary, that Obama was born elsewhere, and serves in violation of the Constitution.

We have accepted, tacitly or explicitly, the Godwin’s Law-flaunting ravings of those who would compare the president, with clever ambiguities, to certain historical dictators.

We have accepted the metaphor of politics as war, and we have accepted that we must fight, as in war, with whatever weapons are at hand.

It’s easy enough to denounce the insane ranting of the Birthers, and we should. They destroy our credibility and damage our better arguments against the president’s agenda.

But we must also realize that many of the voices that have led conservatism in the past are not the voices that must lead it into the future.

William F. Buckley, the man most responsible for creating the intellectual movement that flounders today, was once faced with a familiar choice. Before Bush, before Reagan, and even before Goldwater, he was confronted with the dilemma of the John Birch Society.

The members of the society, to draw an easy modern comparison, were the Birthers of the 1960s. They were convinced that 60 to 80 percent of the American government was communist, that Eisenhower had been their agent and that anyone who did not accept these arguments was a willing accomplice to the Soviets.

Buckley treated them like the menace they were, writing what he termed a “five thousand word excoriation” of them in National Review.

We can cast out our Birchers, but where are our Buckleys?

Unlike in the 1960s, there is an intellectual void in conservatism. The market has spoken, and in many ways we have the leaders we deserve. Our side of the debate is driven by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the aforementioned Beck and by whichever congressman has most recently insulted the president. This is not to say these are bad people, or even that they’ve never contributed to the movement.

It is simply to say that a vibrant, intellectually serious, politically ascendant conservatism needs new voices, and that a modern American conservatism must take a new shape.

True conservatism, winning conservatism, is not afraid of argument. It is not angry or shrill. It does not call names. It does not denigrate the intellect. It is calm and measured. It is passionate in defense of great truths, yet reasonable in small differences.

We will discover new voices, ones that speak the language of our changing country instead of shouting at it for changing.

Until then, we race into uneasy exile when our country needs us most.

Reach Will at


  1. The birthers, the tea baggers, the screamers, and the deathers continued extreme minority presence will become tiresome to mainstream America, if it has not already done so. To all the birthers in La, La Land, it is on you to prove to all of us that your assertion is true, if there are people who were there and support your position then show us the video (everyone has a price), either put up or frankly shut-up. I heard Orly Taitz, is selling a tape (I think it’s called “Money, Lies and Video tape”). She is from Orange County, CA, now I know what the mean when they say “behind the Orange Curtain”, when they talk about Orange County, the captial of Conspiracy Theories. You know Obama has a passport, he travel abroad before he was a Senator, but I guess they were in on it. In my opinion the Republican Party has been taken over the most extreme religious right (people who love to push their beliefs on others while trying to take away the rights of those they just hate) and that’s who they need to extract from their party if they real want to win. Good Luck, because as they said in WACO, “We Ain’t Coming Out”. I heard that she now wants to investigate the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC).

  2. Since you do not define your brand of conservatism, it has many meanings, it is hard to tell if you are promoting further movement by the Republican party to the center, as many deceptacons do or if you would like the party to move more towards the beliefs of Goldwater. It sounds to me as though you are advocating further movement to the center, and if you are, then you are wrong. The mass exodus by Republicans to the independent party is proof that movement to the more moderate side, i.e. Bush, will further move the party to irrelevance. It is also obvious to me that you have not watched Glen Beck, because if you did, you would not lump him in with the birther movement. In fact, Beck isn't even a Republican!

  3. From SB To Ken ---
    You are absolutely on target. The Bush GOP deserted their huge conservative base and thereby lost elections. Most of us are very conservative and, quaintly enough, believe in the constitution, and are angry and tired of congress violating said document. But it took the offensive Marxist behavor of Obama and his minions to produce the TeaParty efforts. They will continue.

  4. I'm a (very) lapsed Eisenhower Republican—but even without the lapse I'd have no earthly understanding why people embracing radical right views consider themselves conservatives. Whichever party gains advantage advantages themselves to the hilt—and the hilt is all that was left sticking out of America's corpse after a gluttonous 8-year neocon orgy of aggression and entitlement.
    I glad to read words of someone who's searching for the soul of the GOP, and I hope you find it.