Movement Conservatism is Dead as a National Ideology

I don’t know what it is going to take to convince the Republicans that they will lose if a national election takes place that motivates the bases of both parties. Their base isn’t big enough to win a national election, so they can only win if the Democrats are unmotivated to go to the polls. That is a common occurrence in midterm elections, but it not going to happen in 2016 whether or not Hillary Clinton is the Democrats’ nominee. It’s true that Hillary will motivate the right to give money and volunteer and to show up at the polls, but that won’t help them defeat her. They will lose, possibly in historic, devastating fashion.

There is really only one way that a Republican can win in 2016, and that is by not running as a movement conservative. The party has tried nominating people who aren’t really part of the movement, but they have not allowed those candidates to separate themselves from the movement. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney might have won the presidency if they had been allowed to run as moderates, but they both had to sacrifice that label to win the nomination.

With each passing year, movement conservatism becomes less viable as a national ideology. But the party is firmly in control of the movement’s adherents. Hillary Clinton may fire these folks up more than any conceivable alternative, but this will not help the GOP one iota.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com