"Can American Conservatism Ever Be Reformed?"

Dennis Sanders asks:

There really isn’t a strong movement in the United States that is committed to a more moderate version of conservatism. There are a few groups, but there is no strong reformist presence within what makes up the American right in the same way that there is in the United Kingdom. Across the pond, the Tory Reform Group has been around for 35 years representing a more moderate brand of conservatism and they can be credited for helping get the Conservative Party back in power.

But the impulse here in the States among those on the right who are dissatisfied with the state of things, is to simply walk away. Whether its Brink Lindsey now touting a “libertarian centrism” or Tim Lee flirting with the left, the usual result of frustrated folks on the right is not to change things, but to leave and look for greener pastures.

Why is that? Why is there no impulse to change the right?

I suspect because its institutional structure - with the massive amount of money attached to it - is so wrapped up in a coordinated party line the odds of being able to take it on while remaining a part of it are minimal. Look at the apostates: me, Bartlett, Frum, Johnson. They are all expelled from any institutional support (except for those like me lucky enough to be independent) and then ostracized and demonized. When you look at what has happened to dissenters on the right, I don't think there's a huge mystery as to why the impulse to change from within has died out. It will require a few massive defeats to reform it. Or some bombshell that wakes the base up to their own delusions. I'm not betting on either ...

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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