By David Beilstein
Some thoughts regarding CPAC.
Looks like 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was “warmly received.” I didn’t expect otherwise. Though I agree with Romney’s optimism that conservatism can, and will, achieve electoral victory; I’d prefer less platitude shoe-horning in conservative politics.
My sense is, neo-conservatism theories about foreign policy in light of Middle East realities, fiscal impoverishment at home, and the conclusion of an unsuccessful decade of war, will be enough to put an end to Wilsonian foreign policy as the default position of the G.O.P.
You will get no argument from us Negroes at Crede, ut intelligas that because American foreign policy status quo did not prevent the act of war known universally as Sep. 11, 2001, that neo-conservative solutions are, therefore, correct.
Such a consideration would be fallacious reasoning.
Clearly, there are alternatives to what America did before 9/11 and what it can do post-9/11 to prevent terrorist attacks. Those ideas need to come from classical liberals in a cohesive, well-communicated manner, in order to win broad national support.
Moreover, Romney is an honourable man whose failure to win the presidency can be laid at the feet of the Republican Party more than his own campaign. I’m not sure my Negro brother Robert Capehert agrees with me, here—neither does National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. But oh well. I’ve written about why I think the point is valid. It is not to say Romney’s campaign did not have issues.
It did. It is to say, the G.O.P. had bigger issues of negative impact on the outcome of Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Still, foreign policy did not help Romney for two reasons: one, peace through strength did not mean in 2012 what it came to mean for voters in 1980 heralded by President Ronald Reagan. By the time Reagan left office on Jan. 20, 1989—peace through strength meant America would be restrained in the use of force, but when it needed to act—it would act with severe, overwhelming violence.
To win—to end the conflict, quickly.
In 2012 Romney’s peace through strength mantra was disowned by a war weary public—a public that saw peace through strength as a catchphrase to increase American involvement in even more conflict around the globe. This meant; more nation building, more making things not our business, our business.
Worse. The American electorate perceived the nation’s siege into Iraq and Afghanistan as severely mismanaged—warring against any confidence in the neo-conservative conception of war and peace.
Such realities, then, would seem to eliminate for several election cycles the kind of foreign policy advanced by Bush administration loyalists—who in turn, had eyes and ears within the Romney campaign. Likewise, Sen. Rand Paul’s performance at CPAC will probably be the mainstream position on foreign policy throughout the G.O.P. unless a paradigm-shifting event like 9/11 transpires.
One hopes such an event does not happen.
I was glad Romney received warm applause by CPAC attendees. There was no need to beat up individuals for what has to be considered overall anyway, Republican Party failure. Romney has his communicative weaknesses—his stiff comportment. But honorable he is—was. Obvious to the conservative faithful, is the fact the party is going in another direction. That’s good.
I could do without Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Too much hot gas. And not enough seriousness. The kind of issue-centered policy needed to compete on the issues of the day against progressives.
Finally, CPAC seems to line up like this: conservatism at its best preserves and animates individual Americans to be able to till and plant their own gardens to their own designs—preventing government from informing citizens what they must do with their own property. When political conservatism is caught up in the preservation and animation of individual liberty, it can—and will, defeat progressive leftism routinely.
But when conservatism arbitrarily becomes a cultural uniformity-by-majority attitude desirous as much as progressivism to design how men and women use their own property—think Rick Santorum’s brand of “conservatism”—it becomes fundamentally non-classically liberal. And subsequently, it becomes much more unelectable.
What has seemed to occur during this year’s CPAC get together, is, a wide embrace of the former type of conservatism—heralded successfully by Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Until something changes, it appears this is a very good thing for the conservative movement. Rand Paul is of the same type of conservatism that built Goldwater—which in turn created Reagan. Such political conservatism has proven to not only shake up political loyalties—remember those Reagan Democrats and Roman Catholics; the Reagan white working classes?—but also, electorally popular.