Welcome to the 2016 presidential election. Ramesh Ponnuru, whom Dick and I enjoyed meeting on a National Review Danube River cruise (just prior to the flooding now taking place), writes that the debate among conservatives pits “people who have heretofore been friends with similar views on almost all issues, and who on each side have reasonable arguments to hand.”
Beltway intellectuals continue to twist themselves into knots about Donald Trump’s likely nomination. They claim, writes Peggy Noonan in the WSJ, that they will support Trump if they can be assured that they will sleep well at night. But as Ms. Noonan notes, “They slept well enough through two unwon wars, the great recession, and the refusal of Republican and Democratic administrations to stop illegal immigration.”
At some point conservative intellectuals are going to take their energy and start thinking about how we got here. How did a party that stood for regular people become a party that stood for platitudes regular people no longer found even vaguely pertinent? During the Bush administration, did the party intelligentsia muscle critics and silence needed dissent, making the party narrower, more rigid and embittered?
Writing about the pheromone of Donald Trump, America and its rigid, inflexible two-party choice, Mark Steyn elaborates,
One party is supposed to be the party of big government, the other the party of small government. When the Big Government Party is in power, the government gets bigger, and, when the Small Government Party is in power, the government gets bigger.
One party is supposed to be the party of social liberalism, the other the party of social conservatism. When the Socially Liberal Party is in power, the country gets more liberal, and, when the Socially Conservative Party is in power, the country gets more liberal.
One party is supposed to be the party of foreign-policy doves, the other the party of foreign-policy hawks. When the doves are in power, America loses wars, and, when the hawks are in power, America loses wars.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Steyn continues, a “guy named” Sam Francis wrote, “Imagine giving this advice to a Republican presidential candidate: What if you stopped calling yourself a conservative and instead just promised to make America great again?”