Friday, January 4, 2008

Principled Conservatives vs. the Establishment

Hewitt's meltdown continues here. In the process, he implies that the prescription drug benefit was in fact perfectly consistent with conservatism and that the GWOT is about protecting the middle and lower classes:

Did the tax cuts help families making less than $50 K a year? Did the prescription drug benefit? Does not getting attacked since 9/11 benefit only the middle and upper classes?

As a libertarian, I'll leave the rhetorical questions about tax cuts alone- but you get the picture.

Hewitt even sounds a bit like an Alex Jones-style conspiracy theorist at one point:

[T]he conservative activists have to realize that there is an attempted coup underway.

Hewitt then hits a perfect 100 on the Arrogance and Condescension Scale:

He or Rudy need to win in Florida, or achieve a three way tie with McCain to put the campaign back into the hands of the people who built the party over the past 28 years.

This last statement is simply astounding. Hewitt actually thinks that the Republican establishment is responsible for building and maintaining the Reagan coalition (which by the way started as a run against the Republican establishment!). He thinks that the establishment is entitled to win the primaries every year.

Hewitt's ravings today show exactly how insane one can become when they equate outright partisanship with actual political principles like conservatism is supposed to be. Huckabee, McCain, and Paul are three very different types of conservatives- but they are all actually conservatives of one sort or another, even if not necessarily of the Burkean variety. The Republican Party line- and those who ascribe to it wholesale- have no understanding whatsoever of conservative principles. They just think that whatever they say is automatically the principled conservative position.

The arrogance of Hewitt and the establishment is shown by their apparent belief that the various groups of principled conservatives don't actually have any principles. Hewitt does not and cannot understand the fact that these principled conservatives built the coalition by realizing they had a common interest and agreeing to follow the GOP establishment. If anyone deserves credit for this, it is Reagan and perhaps Gingrich for showing these groups why they had a common interest in supporting the GOP establishment. But these groups ultimately joined the coalition of their own free will, not because Hewitt and his ilk magically invented a consistent ideology that encompassed all of these groups. Now that these groups have realized they no longer have a common interest in supporting the establishment, they are finding their own leaders to support: Huckabee, McCain, and to a lesser extent Paul and even Thompson.

The principled conservatives aren't betraying the GOP establishment; they are realizing that the establishment betrayed them. Without their support, the GOP coalition never would have existed; without Hewitt and Limbaugh's attacks on anyone who violates the party line, I suspect it would still be strong.

Last night's results, in which the two true "establishment" candidates drew less than 30% of the vote (and a little over 40 if you consider Thompson the "establishment") amounts to Republicans of principle expressing their ability and willingness to think for themselves.