If the divisive forces on the left had their way the GOP would self-destruct over the so-called "battle" between "libertarian" leaning republicans and "establishment" republicans. Well, Joe Scarborough wrote a piece this weekend that all republicans need to read. It defines our common ground, conservatism.
I was asked online earlier today for the historical text that best describes conservatism as I understand it. My answer to that question comes from a text that has been taped to the wall of my office for 20 years now. It was written (of course) by William F. Buckley and it describes the kind of conservatism that shaped my thinking in Congress and still influences my thinking today.
In his 1959 classic "Up From Liberalism" Buckley wrote:
"I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and Liberals at bay. And the nation free."
Scarborough goes on to talk about how the Goldwater campaign collapsed and how a more "pragmatic" Reagan arose and brought America much closer to conservatism than the ideologue Goldwater ever could have accomplished.
A battle-tested Buckley would say later, "Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive."
Goldwater's disastrous defeat in 1964 taught WFB that lesson all too well and Reagan's pragmatic conservatism over the next two decades would also show Buckley just how effective a conservative politician could be if he was more interested in persuading voters than posing as an ideological puritan.
Good read and a good lesson for all of us at this time.