In a democracy, all political debate is a debate over morality. … It’s why rational arguments rarely carry the day in democracy. Debate in democratic systems is about what is the right thing to do in terms of morality, rather than what is best for some practical reason. … What matters is moral persuasion and emotional resonance. Politics in a liberal democracy is theater, not science. The fact that conservatives don’t get that helps explain their demise. …
In all [areas except the fight over communism] the so-called conservatives were happy to give way to the radicals, allowing them to define the moral framework. This is why the Official Right has been such a failure since the 1990’s. The Left controls morality, so the Right must always find some way to fit into that morality. That either means abandoning the field by joining the libertarians on the sidelines or embracing yesterday’s radicalism as today’s timeless conservative principle. The Right is the toady of the Left.
You can see it in this Kevin Williamson piece on who are the real racists. … Like all of today’s conservatives, Williamson believes anti-racism is the highest conservative virtue. In fact, what’s left of the Buckley crowd has embraced the egalitarianism of the Left to the point where they are to the left of the Progressive on the race issue. The modern conservative cannot hold a single position until they find a black guy to endorse it. …
The point of that Williamson article is not to make some factual or even moral argument against the Left. It is all about displaying the anti-racist plumage of the writer. It’s the same game you see with left-wing comedy shows. The performer shows off his moral superiority and the audience is flattered, so they cheer. It’s moral peacocking. The difference between conservatives and a peacock is that when a peacock displays his plumage, it is sign of courage. When conservatives do it, it is a sign of obedience.
This is why Buckley Conservatism is in a crisis, headed for the dustbin of history. In order to be in opposition to the ruling orthodoxy, you have to be at odds with at least some of its moral foundation. That means having an independent base of morality.
In America, the Right used to rely on Christianity, tradition and America’s frontier culture, but those were abandoned as the Left anathematized each one in turn. That leaves the Right arguing from the same moral basis as the Left, which is why they are nothing but an echo now.
Sadly this dynamic runs through much of politics today. In Australia many have remarked that the wet or PC half of the Liberal Party is just Labor-lite. In the US, establishment Republicans are known as RINOs. In Britain, half of the Tories are barely distinguishable from Tony Blair.
The issue of the decade is “racism.” Allegations of “racism” from the left make the right do anything the left wish. So much so, that “racism” has done a 180, and the left now say that if you don’t treat people differently on the basis of race then you are “racist”. Sure. What they really mean is do as we say or we call you “racist”.
Playing by the left’s phony morality, the right loses. The left just changes it to suit themselves as circumstances dictate.
The conservatives have thousands of years of well thought out and successful morality and history on their side — western civilization and Christianity. So argue with them, don’t just roll over and give away the moral basis for being conservative.
A reader suggests:
The trouble is: there’s no sign of the Right getting their act together. Too many on the professional right just want their pay and benefits.
The only thing that could turn things around is an enormous financial crash leaving people feeling much poorer. Then the virtue-signalling and generosity (with other people’s money) might stop.
Alternatively, Jeremy Corbyn-types might get elected everywhere.
So much to look forward to!