The Bush presidency killed the conservative movement. It went on life support in 2001, and finally dropped dead for good in 2003 after the war in Iraq began. Conservatives, who claimed Bush as their own, either actively cheered or were too spineless to oppose the greatest expansion of government power since FDR.
In the process, they have authored their own demise, for the public now sees conservatism as the party of endless war, massive government, and crony capitalism.
This week, conservatism will finally be unceremoniously buried under an avalanche of electoral victories for Democrats. Even if McCain manages to pull this one out, the list of victories for Dems at the Congressional and Gubernatorial levels will be so long, that there will be no quick recovery for the right-wing.
But, even if McCain sailed to victory and all the GOP incumbents retained their seats, the GOP would simply strengthen its unqualified support of bailouts, war, massive spending, and the police state.
The movement is over. It was born out of a post-war ideological crusade to militarize the country in the name of anti-communism while at the same time deluding itself into thinking that it could defend liberty as well. The movement finally had to admit that this ideological program is incoherent at best. Thus, conservatism is no more. It only managed to survive all those years because it convinced voters that it was the ideology of fiscal responsibility and small government.
That proposition is obviously nonsense now, and the party is over. The myth (which was always a myth) has finally broken down under its internal contradictions. Logically speaking, it is impossible to be both for small government at home and for empire abroad simultaneously. Eventually the conservatives had to choose one or the other, and they chose empire over liberty.
Sure, there will still be a right-wing political movement. There is a Republican Party that commands the support of certain interest groups such as evangelical Christians, nationalists, and non-hispanic white males. But there is no ideological movement behind the Party because conservatism has been exposed as the farce it has always been.
No libertarian should mourn the death of conservatism. Conservatism was never anything more than a parasite ideology. It has always been a hideous carbuncle on the flanks of Classical Liberalism, the ideology of liberty. Conservatism latched onto the popularity of libertarian ideals of small and controlled government, and proceeded to pile on an endless array of contradictory big-government theories of militarism, nationalism,and protectionism while endlessly peddling nostaligia for the good ol’ days.
So long conservatism. It’s been a long, lousy fifty years, but now you’re gone forever, and we’ll just have to wait and see if you’re replaced with something far worse, or if a true party of liberty takes your place. Your ersatz version won’t be missed.10:56 pm on November 3, 2008 Email Ryan McMaken