The Southern Cuckoo

Steinglass does a Western conservatism post mortem:

The individualist Western conservatism Mr Goldwater articulated is one of the great strands in American political thinking. It is quite distinct from Southern conservatism, and has less room for the politics of racial resentment. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when George Bush and John McCain supported immigration reform and Republicans were winning substantial Hispanic votes, it appeared that this brand of conservatism might achieve cross-racial appeal. But in the past five years, that promising trend has been crushed. And now, in many areas of the West where racial diversity is re-emerging, one sees Western conservatism becoming very focused on racial politics indeed.

It's always worth recalling that the Republican party's historic conservatism, from Lincoln to Eisenhower, was not based in the South. Nixon changed that. For a while, the fusionism worked, primarily under the sunny Californian, Ronald Reagan. But the South is so strong an identity, so powerful a cultural force, that it inevitably becomes the cuckoo in any nest. And the South is hard to comprehend without the racial politics which has defined it and thus contemporary Republicanism. This has proven fatal to a coherent governing conservatism, in my view. And it is deadly for conservatism's future as something other than cultural reaction and denial of the shifting nature of 21st century geo-politics.