Frum appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday to talk about his “new conservative brand,” where conservatism went wrong, and how to redefine conservative ideology so Republicans can win elections again.
The not-so-suprising conclusion: social conservatives should be told to take a hike; fiscal conservatives and libertarian conservatives must “accept” that Americans “want” more government interference (an assumption based on his own preferences instead of on polls); and the GOP must be less aggressive on the issue of immigration. The only aspect of conservatism Frum wants to keep is a hawkish foreign policy.
Arianna Huffington joined the conversation later on and told Frum she strongly supported his efforts to reform the GOP.
Nice. Everyone likes to receive a compliment, right?
Well, yes, but a compliment from Huffington should have set Frum’s alarm bells off. She is a rabid, anti-conservative, partisan Democrat who longs for a permanent Democratic majority in Congress. What more does the founder of the New Majority need to know, before he realizes that his recent efforts hurt rather than help the conservative movement?
Listening to Frum speak, you’d get the impression that conservatives are an endangered species. But in fact, conservative books are selling like hot cakes. Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, Michelle Malkin’s Culture of Corruption, and Glenn Beck’s Common Sense are best-sellers because Americans long for authentic conservative voices at a time when leftists have taken over the U.S. government.
As most members of the self-anointed intellectual elite, Morning Joe’s crew doesn’t quite understand that distrust of government is deeply ingrained in American culture and history. Democrats didn’t take back the House, the Senate and the White House because voters suddenly fell in love with leftist ideology or out of love with conservatism, but because Republicans failed to deliver on their promise to cut government and to keep it out of people’s lives. It was not conservatism, but politicians who falsely identified themselves as conservatives, that earned the distrust of the electorate.
The actual problem in this debate isn’t related to conservatism but to Frum’s inability to identify the real problem. Instead of marginalizing powerful conservative voices, Frum should build them up and explain that conservatism is far from dead; in fact, it’s more alive now than at any time since the 1980s.