The first two paragraphs of this column are as cogent and thought-provoking as anything I've seen on this forum in a while. Like many other well-intended analyses, however, it treats Republicans and conservatives as synonymous. Conservatives do believe in themselves—or at least in their beliefs. Establishment Republicans also believe in themselves—or in their own superiority to those loud, loutish conservatives who crashed their party. But conservatives and Republicans don't always believe in each other and don't often have reasons to do so. A house divided against itself cannot stand. The left doesn't have a monopoly on fighting with conviction, though they do have a long record of fighting dirtier. Oh, there are many lefties who'd hang their own kin for The Cause, The Revolution, The People, or whatever; but most are just amoral cynics clawing for power, fame, or money. Republicans can fight with conviction, but mainly against conservatives in their own party. Faced with external opponents who genuinely hate them and everything they seem to stand for, Republicans tend to go along in hope of getting along. Conservatives fight with conviction, but they have interests outside politics. Many are preoccupied with matters beyond the battlefield. They don't love power. They have lives of their own and don't long to spend them telling others how to live theirs. Like Cincinnatus, many eventually lay down the sword and return to the plow. So conservatives suffer a natural handicap in dealing with leftists for whom politics is all and all is political. They are often no match for professional politicians and bureaucrats of any persuasion who have dug in for a long struggle. Conservatives who put politics first may succeed for a while, but they tend to morph into Republicans. (Tom Coburn, check your mirror.) I don't know how we can heal the divisions on the right or to overcome the left's advantages. But I do know that this country and Western civilization are doomed if we don't.
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