Saturday, December 14, 2013


the history of conservatism in America.  "Rule and Ruin" by Geoffrey Kabaservice is an excellent addition to Rick Perlstein's "Before the Storm"  that provides a some tidbits that Perlstein didn't cover, notably the Ripon Society and its "A Call to Excellence" manifesto written in the weeks following the assassination of Pres. Kennedy.  I was impressed by how long the movement conservatives have been a force in the GOP by these two passages in the manifesto:


There are at least two courses open to the party -- the strategy of the right and the strategy of the center. We feel strongly that the center strategy is the only responsible choice the party can take.  The strategy of the right is a strategy for consolidating a minority position.  It is an effort to build a coalition of all who are opposed to something.  As an "anti-" movement, it has been singularly devoid of positive programs for political action. ... It is potentially divisive. Just as Disraeli warned the British Conservative party a century ago of the dangers of the "two Englands," so would we speak out against a party realignment of the small states of the West and South against the urban centers of America -- or any similar realignment that would pit American against American on the basis of distrust or suspicion. We must purge our politics of that rancor, violence, and extremism that would divide us. In the spirit of Lincoln, we must emphasize those goals and ideals which we hold in common as a people: 
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; . . . -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations. 


In contrast, the extremist rejects the complexity of the moderate's world. His is a state of mind that insists on dividing reality into two antithetical halves. The gray is resolved into black and white. Men are either good or evil. Policies are either Communist or anti-Communist. It is understandable that the incredible complexity and mounting frustrations of our world will cause men to seek one right answer - the simple solution.

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