“Movement Conservatism” Is Dead! Long Live…?
Saddam Hussein unintentionally gave
President Bush a little bump in the polls last week,
though it`s beginning to look like the president didn`t
need his help anyway. The only people besides the
Democratic presidential candidates who seem disgruntled
with Mr. Bush are the almost-always unhappy
sages and sagamores of the "Conservative
But those gentlemen are not going
to vote for any of the Democrats, and it may not matter
anymore if they`re disgruntled or not. The truth is that
conservatives are today pretty much irrelevant.
The reason the "Movement"
bigwigs are displeased has little to do with Mr. Bush`s
ill-advised and unnecessary war with Iraq, his refusal
to enforce current immigration laws adequately and seek
serious reform of the immigration system or the very
questionable impact of his internal security policies on
No, the conservatives are upset
about Medicare. It costs too much.
The high cost of government is of
course a perfectly legitimate and important issue, as
are the size, scale and power of the state, and
conservatives ought to be burned at what the president
and his party pushed into law this fall. The Medicare
bill is supposed to cost more than a trillion dollars
over the next 20 years, and former House Majority leader
Dick Armey announced that
"the conservative, free-market base in America is
rightly in revolt over" it.
Well, maybe, but who`s really
groused is the Beltway Right, that dwindling and
never-merry band of direct mail scam artists, "think
tank" czars, decrepit "youth leaders,"
phony British accents, and professional Family
Values activists who haven`t seen their own kids for 20
Here`s what the Post quotes
from a representative slice of them:
Wall Street Journal editorial page accuses Bush of a
`Medicare fiasco` and a
`Medicare giveaway.` Paul Weyrich, a coordinator of
the conservative movement, sees `disappointment in a lot
Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist with the
National Center for Policy Analysis, pronounces himself
`apoplectic.` An article in the American Spectator
calls Bush`s stewardship on spending `nonexistent,`
while Steve Moore of the Club for Growth labels Bush a
`champion big-spending president.`
president isn`t showing leadership,` laments Brian Riedl
Heritage Foundation, who calculates that federal
spending per household is at a 60-year high.
`Conservatives are angry.`"
The reason conservatives are angry
about the Medicare bill is that each and every one of
them is an
Economic Man, fixated on the idea that economic
issues are really all that matters and that economic
forces are all that really drives human beings.
Yet it probably doesn`t much matter
what these guys do. There is no challenge to the
president in the forthcoming primaries, and nobody`s
left in the party to run against him anyway.
And even if there were such a
leader and even if he did want to challenge the
president in the primaries, the first people to
line up to denounce him for it would be—the
Throughout the 1990s,
Pat Buchanan ran three presidential campaigns, two
of them in GOP primaries, but not one of the
Beltway Right panjandrums supported him or showed
any interest, and not a few went
out of their way to
Nor did they support other
right-of-center candidates. In 1996 and 2000, all these
leaders and their ever-shrinking followings could offer
was that we had to beat Bill Clinton or Al Gore and
elect a Republican. Despite warnings from reliable
conservatives that Mr. Bush wasn`t one and that his
"compassionate conservatism" was a fake, the
stalwarts hurt themselves trying to clamber onto his
Well, they got what they wanted—a
Republican in the White House.
Today, the reason the
Conservative Movement doesn`t matter politically is
that its own leaders succeeded in consigning themselves
and their Movement to oblivion.
Having sold their followers on the
bill of goods that George W. Bush was a conservative,
they are now amazed to find that many Americans regard
Mr. Bush as a conservative.
There may or may not be a
"conservative, free-market base in America," as Mr.
Armey claims, but if there is, there`s no special reason
to think it`s upset with what Mr. Bush has done or that
it`s interested in doing anything about it.
And even if it does exist, one
thing is for sure: These characters don`t represent it,
don`t speak for it and won`t lead it anywhere.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.
for Sam Francis` website.
here to order his monograph,
Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American
Political Future and
Glynn Custred`s review.]