Sometimes we feel like we're in an amusement park funhouse as we participate in the present conservative movement's battle to confront our culture: The mirrors are distorted; the corners are dark; and a new shock is waiting around every corner.
The latest shock is the capitulation of Ann Coulter to LGBT activists. She has proudly announced her acceptance of a speaking engagement before a group called GOProud. This is an organization that claims to be conservative despite its advocacy of liberal social values that would make Russell Kirk blush.
GOProud endorses the gay left's redefinition of marriage. It supports open homosexuality among the sailors, airmen and infantry forced to live in close quarters in our military. It wants to remove societal supports of traditional family and marriage by rewriting federal tax and benefit laws. Its members even advocate an activist foreign policy to pressure sovereign countries that have the boldness to outlaw sodomy within their own borders.
In the nearly 20 years we have known Ann Coulter we have defended her countless times. This time we can't defend her actions. Maybe she has spent too much time with the elites in D.C., New York and Hollywood. It looks as though she has run up the white flag in the culture war.
But alas, she is not alone. It is an open secret inside the Beltway that the political operatives who run the RNC, act as media commentators and lead countless so-called "conservative" organizations in D.C. long ago surrendered in the culture war. Every four years there is a nasty internecine battle to keep issues like the sanctity of human life, the traditional definition of marriage -- and other issues dear to social conservatives -- in the Republican platform. The elites would just as soon Phyllis Schlafly and Jim Dobson go away.
Even the American Conservative Union, to my chagrin is getting sideways on this issue. Last year they embraced GOProud as a cosponsor of CPAC, the granddaddy of conservative conferences. CPAC's Lisa De Pasquale defended the group last year to Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, saying: "After talking with their leadership and reviewing their website, I am satisfied that they do not represent a 'radical leftist agenda,' as some have stated, and should not be rejected as a CPAC cosponsor."
The movement I joined in 1976 when I accepted my membership in Young Americans for Freedom is vastly different than it is today.
The strength of the Reagan coalition was its embrace of the millions of activists that were motivated to stand up for traditional values. The conservative movement switched from activism to institutionalism during the late 1980s and 1990s. Today, the activists are in a new movement, the tea-party movement. Conservative leaders are frantic to get at the front of this parade, but it is unlikely they will succeed.
Americans want leaders who have courage. Republicans controlled Congress and the White House six of the Bush administration's eight years, and their failure to achieve any meaningful advance in the culture war, control spending, or to rein-in government is an important factor in their subsequent defeat.
If the Republican leadership takes a similar course following electoral victories in 2010, they will likely experience electoral defeats in 2012 or 2014.
Civilizations are successful in the long run if they reproduce their values in the next generation. On this scorecard, the conservative movement is failing.
The next half-decade is going to decide its success or failure. Running from social conservatism and the issues of marriage, family and life will only hasten its demise.