July 20, 2009
My On a New Conservatism post elicited concern from JK that kicking the big government conservatives out of the Republican Party would be an electoral mistake. I think we've discussed that quite a bit around here with no consensus opinion, but consider this historic quote that Hayek placed at the very top of his 'Why I am Not a Conservative' essay:
"At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition." - Lord Acton
Is this not an accurate description of what happens when big government conservatives are running the party?
Posted by JohnGalt at July 20, 2009 1:32 PM
I am in agreement with JG here. It was said that the American revolution was supported by 30% of the colonial population, aided by 10%, and fought by 3%. Let us be that 3%.
I am ready for a complete purge of the Republican Party. If this is impossible, let us abandon it.
Not too long ago JK wrote a post decrying any such strategy, not wishing to split the same constituency among three parties. It would mean "electoral defeat" in the next election, if my memory holds correct.
This is true. But it is not reason enough to keep a corrupt, statist, and unresponsive party in power.
History provides a lesson here. America has scrapped a party before. Remember the Whigs! In the 1840s, the Whigs had a brief resurgence, a gain in popularity following Van Buren's poor handling of the nation. But the Whigs were unable divided on matters of liberty -- half of the party supported a system of slavery, while half of the party was adamantly against such. So what happened? The party fell apart. In the elections of 1856 Whigs faced off against their brethren, now donning names such as Know-Nothings, Free Soilers, and Republicans.
Five parties were not able to beat one. The Democrats took the nation with a vengeance. However, out of the refiner's fire that was 1856 emerged a new coalition, united on the central issue of the day. The small group of hardliners who had created the Republican Party had been forged into leaders at the forefront of a national political party that used the ideals of these men as a foundation for a new American system. Their system would be the ruling order until the Progressives came to the fore some 50 years later.
I would propose that we stand at a similar crossroads today. We have attempted to tack classical liberalism onto statist conservatism, when rightfully, the reverse should be the truth. Why not make it so? A purge, an abandonment- such will lose us an election, perhaps even two. But if it secures us one more century of American greatness, than why hesitate? Why delay the philosophical reorientation that must come if we are to assure America's future?