Thanks, James. Indeed, Flynn’s short article packs several good phrases:
There is no conservative movement. It is one of the many casualties of the George W. Bush presidency. The arcane phrase reflects a world of YAFers, “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton” buttons, and debates over the Bricker Amendment. That does not exist anymore… .
Conservatism the label became more popular than conservatism the outlook. Thus, people who mistake Russell Kirk for the captain of the Starship Enterprise jumped on the bandwagon, hijacked the driver’s seat, and sent it off course. The more that people called themselves “conservative,” the less “conservative” resembled conservatism.
I think it’s worth noting that “What’s Wrong With The GOP?” has long been a favorite parlor game for conservatives. Sputtering rage breaks out on the Right whenever conservatives are especially frustrated by Republican ineptitude, which is quite often. Yet that kind of routine grumbling never gets written up by the New Yorker.
However, when the GOP starts losing elections, the liberal media never blames the Susan Collinses and Arlen Specters and George Voinoviches. There’s always a rush to blame conservatives or conservatism. I remember this after Clinton was re-elected in 1996, and it erupted again after the ‘98 Republican mid-term losses. Yet after the 2002 and ‘04 GOP victories, we were told that conservatism has triumphed. Now a few bad years later, conservatism is being hurried to the graveyard. Let’s keep our powder dry and resist the urge to take advice from liberals.