“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
This quote comes from a fascinating story on the troubles of the Republican Party and the convervative movement (the two are not synonymous). The part of the story that really rang true for me was this passage:
According to Buchanan, who was the White House communications director in Reagan’s second term, the President once told his barber, Milton Pitts, “You know, Milt, I came here to do five things, and four out of five ain’t bad.” He had succeeded in lowering taxes, raising morale, increasing defense spending, and facing down the Soviet Union; but he had failed to limit the size of government, which, besides anti-Communism, was the abiding passion of Reagan’s political career and of the conservative movement.
The conservative movement set out to do five things: lower taxes, improve America’s self-image, increase defense spending, defeat Communism, and limit the size and scope of government. Once Reagan had achieved the first four, all that was left to his heirs was attacking the government (Gingrich) and waging a pointless culture war (talk radio) which had gotten Nixon elected by a landslide in 1968 and 1972 when America was fed up with the excesses of the 60s, but which has little resonance today outside a few interest groups.
The most chilling passage for members of the Republican Party has to be this quote from strategist Ed Rollins:
“Today, if you’re not rich or Southern or born again, the chances of your being a Republican are not great.”
America needs alternatives to the ascendancy of the state, but today’s Republican Party hardly seems capable of being that alternative.