Feature

The futility of ‘apocalyptic conservatism’

We will not win the war of ideas by nominating extremist candidates, or by refusing to compromise or accept incremental progress.

Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich LowryNational Review

If Republicans are to have any chance of winning national elections, said Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry, they must turn away from “apocalyptic conservative politics.” Conservatives mired in this despairing, pessimistic view of politics believe that most Americans have been seduced by Big Government, and that the only viable response is rebellion and confrontation. Republicans who fail their purity test, they insist, must be driven from the party. It was this philosophy that drove the recent, disastrous attempt by House Republicans to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government. But conservatives lack power in Washington not because of a lack of ideological purity or fire. Our real problem is “the insufficient number of our followers.” To regain influence and power, conservatives have to persuade voters about the merits of our philosophy and win elections, the way Ronald Reagan did so successfully. We will not win the war of ideas by nominating extremist candidates, or by refusing to compromise or accept incremental progress. “Conservatives need to get to the work of persuading and electioneering—and drop the fantasy of a shortcut.”

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