Monday, February 28, 2005

Why It Happened

John Leo is working on an autopsy for liberalism, since it's apparently dead or dying. His thesis is that because we don't couch our arguments in religious terms, and don't understand Americans (in fact, apparently we despise Americans), we are soon to be regulated to the ash heap of history.

I do agree that we do need to present our message better. Who doesn't? But I also think that Mr. Leo is leaving one thing out of his presentation. He acknowledges that in the late 60s early 70s, Conservatism was as down as we are now. And it came back. Mr. Leo acknowledges this but fails to note one important reason why Conservatives came back. Liberals turned off America, and Liberals split so that their message got diluted. Was it important to care about animal testing? Or Apartheid? Or eating Meat? Or offshore oil drilling? And so on and so forth. Not to demean any of those causes (all of which were important), but our energy was diluted, and our message became confused.

I don't know if Conservatives are going to go down a similar path. They have fewer natural divisions (the biggest being between libertarian conservatives and religious fundamentalist conservatives). On the other hand, it's clear that a lot of their program isn't very popular. And it's also clear that many of them think that their program is, in fact, very popular. That creates possibilities (if the Democratic Party (nominally Liberal) can get off its duff and do something about them).

Time will tell.

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