Principalities & Powers

Turning Away

By the end of last summer, it had become transparently obvious, even to the graying stallions of the “conservative movement,” that organized conservatism in the United States since the 1950’s has been a colossal failure.  The failure has been clear enough to most percipient Americans for perhaps a decade or more (an essay I published in Chronicles in 1991 announcing the news was greeted with anger and denials by the “movement”), but what really signed and sealed the perception was a long article about the “Conservative Lament” in the Washington Times on August 24 by veteran political reporter Ralph Z. Hallow.  For all the political bubbly water the conservatives quaffed at the rise and election of George W. Bush in 2000, the disappointing performance of his administration has helped confirm what must have been a lurking suspicion on the professional right that the disappointments went well beyond Mr. Bush and his policies.

“We won the battle against communism,” Phyllis Schlafly sighed to Mr. Hallow, “but I guess we’ve largely lost the battle against big government, and we’ve lost lots of our liberties.”   No veteran of the conservative movement has a better right to pass such a judgment than Mrs. Schlafly, who was responsible for one of the few unequivocal victories of the right, the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in...

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