The Dim-Post

October 29, 2008

End of Conservatism?

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:44 am
Tags: ,

This meme seems to be cropping up in various think pieces around the world; Matthew Yglesias points out the obvious flaw:

It seems to me that any talk of the end of conservatism is not only premature, but fundamentally misguided. It’s in the nature of things that politicians and intellectuals whose ideas tend toward the preservation of existing wealth and privilege are going to manage to find money and institutions to support them. The right sequence of events could push such a movement out of power for a while, but any incumbent regime is bound to be tripped up by bad luck or mistakes soon enough. And when it does, people turn to the alternative.

I’d also add that the train wreck that is the current US Republican Party isn’t even about the collapse of a conservative party – its about a conservative party transforming itself into a christian nationalist party and becoming intensely unpopular in the process.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that political movements rebuild fast these days; after the epic failure of the Kerry campaign in 2004 the democrats were a spent force – look at them now.


  1. i’m inclined to agree, “conservatism” is a hell of a lot bigger than the current generation of members.

    any political position be it left or right is always in flux. or, put another way, any position is populated with cockroaches. there’s no way to kill them all…

    Comment by Che Tibby — October 29, 2008 @ 8:37 am

  2. Unpoplar but maybe not intensely upopular, from Pew –

    Favorable ratings for the Republican Party, which rose sharply following the party’s convention in early September, have declined to about their previous levels. Currently, 50% say they have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP, while 40% express a favorable opinion of the party; in mid-September, about as many had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party as an unfavorable one (47% favorable vs. 46% unfavorable).

    After 8 yrs of what is often considered a train wreck having an unfavouable rating only 4% more than the Dems isn’t too shabby.

    And that rating has come about only recently as a result of McCain’s inability to capitalise on the economic crisis whereas the Dems have had the chance to mount a far more convincing argument on the basis of change.

    Comment by Neil — October 29, 2008 @ 9:48 am

  3. I agree that McCain’s campaign is not a conservative one as might be understood other than in the US. This excellent article from Slate also supports your conclusion as is clear from this:

    It’s not his campaign, disjointed though that’s been, that finally repulses me; it’s his rapidly deteriorating, increasingly anti-intellectual, no longer even recognizably conservative Republican Party

    Comment by Paul Williams — October 29, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  4. Thanks for the link Paul – I really like Anne Applebaum. Her book Gulag is well worth a look.

    Comment by danylmc — October 29, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  5. I’d not heard of her and, given her politics are a fair way removed from mine, I’d not necessarily seek her out but having read this piece (and your recommendation), I’ll follow up. The quality of writing at Slate is superb; it’s clearly to the left but.

    Comment by Paul Williams — October 29, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  6. Applebaum is probably a good indicator of where McCain went wrong – people who didn’t dislike either of the candidates didn’t really go for his attack campaign, with many finding it out of character, while failing to get any traction on the econmomy when that became the big issue.

    She rates him quite highly as regards foreign affairs. Interestingly, or strangely, McCain is doing better than Obama in Iraq in the Economist world vote –

    Comment by Neil — October 29, 2008 @ 12:57 pm

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