Conservative Correctness: The Back Side of the Political Correctness Coin

Donald Trump has irrevocably toppled the elite's apple cart, causing those who might be described as high-profile, highly respected "Buckley conservatives" – i.e., those who have overseen and orchestrated so many cultural and political losses over the last couple of decades – to unwittingly adopt the tactics of the ultra-liberal left.

In so doing, they seek to cause others to suppress free inquiry as they shame them into re-channeling their behaviors in line with their own.

Those who have always seemed to champion intellectual curiosity and free discussion now act to stifle both as they engage in forms of name-calling, finger-wagging, and conscience-shaming.

This is nothing more than political correctness under the guise of conservatism.  Let's call it "conservative correctness." 

Name-Calling and Threats

Some leading social conservatives have warned compatriots who support Donald Trump that they are now Besmirched and Tainted.  They have Betrayed their comrades.  They are not serious religious conservatives; They are hacks and heretics.

Over the years, I have stood shoulder to shoulder with many of these folks as we have fought in Washington, D.C. and around the country to protect the definition of marriage.  During that time, I never once heard an unkind word uttered about opponents on the other side of the issue.  It seems that vituperation, passive aggression, and shaming have been reserved for close allies. 

Alinsky's Rules for Conservatives

Here are four of Saul Alinsky's twelve rules for radicals that might prove illuminating for Buckley conservatives:

Rule #1.  [T]he mass of our people ... must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future.

In recent years, many conservatives misread the mood of the country because so many among their leadership are sheltered in their comfortable enclaves in Washington, D.C.; Manhattan; and a few Ivy League universities.  They have been in no position to sense the shift, nor have they felt the need to pay attention to the Country Class and adjust their message.  Donald Trump has understood this from the start and has capitalized on it.

Rule #2.  A reformation means that masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don't know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless[.] ... The time is then ripe for revolution.

This is a perfect description of our country today.  Many feel, as both Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders have suggested, that "the system is rigged."  The system seems to favor immigrants, sexual minorities, and the investing classes, but not them.

When the Tea Party crashed upon the scene, one of its three foundational principles was free trade.  That message no longer resonates.  In many regions of the country, folks have concluded that free trade is precisely what has killed their jobs and decimated their communities and families.  Pure conservative ideology neither puts food on the table nor keeps futureless, moribund kids off drugs.

Rule #3.  As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. 

This is key.  Buckley conservatives now appear desperate to maintain a status quo that no longer exists, except in their own minds.  Tellingly, Republican candidate Trump represents a supreme existential threat, while Democrat candidate Clinton is merely an opponent.  

To the public they portray themselves as having their consciences tied up in knots.  They are unable to bring themselves either to support or to vote for Donald Trump because to do so would be to betray the purity of their souls.  If you ask me, that dog don't hunt.

The fact is, they are not constrained by conscience; they are constrained by political and financial calculus.  These are the same folks who have overseen one political and cultural loss after another while receiving acclaim and longstanding lucrative positions.  The left is not a threat to them.  On the contrary, fear-mongering is a wonderful source of fundraising.  The rise of Donald Trump, on the other hand, and the millions who back his candidacy are unmanageable forces that threaten to end their dominance on the political-cultural stage.

There's a reason the right has lost so many battles over the years.  And now Trump's "impure conservative" message is winning while the pure ideological message and attraction of Buckley conservatism has faded.  The Buckley conservatives didn't present their message in a convincing or attractive way.  They failed to make it relevant.  The left has done a better job of messaging, and now Donald Trump is doing the same.

Rule #9.  There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man's faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.

Ironically, because the conservative intelligentsia failed to sense this occurring in many millions of lives across the country, this has now become their own lot.

Candidate Clinton was skewered for calling Trump supporters a basket of deplorables.  But many Buckley conservatives deliver the same message to their fellow conservatives who support Trump.

The rise of Donald Trump is being presented by Buckley conservatives as a Hobson's choice: either vote for Trump and risk an eternity in hell for committing an unredeemable act or reject Trump on principle and allow the country to go to hell.  What a depressing, no-win proposition!  This choice offers no reasonable alternative for the tens of millions who do not view Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils, but who are in fact thrilled with both the candidate and his platform.

Instead of writing social conservatism's obituary, how about we take a cue from Obama's chief of staff immediately following the 2008 election and the financial crisis?

Never let a serious crisis go to waste ... it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

I write this not to insult, but to plead for an examination of conscience among many whom I think of as friends, colleagues, and fellow warriors who seek to protect life and human dignity.

Donald Trump has irrevocably toppled the elite's apple cart, causing those who might be described as high-profile, highly respected "Buckley conservatives" – i.e., those who have overseen and orchestrated so many cultural and political losses over the last couple of decades – to unwittingly adopt the tactics of the ultra-liberal left.

In so doing, they seek to cause others to suppress free inquiry as they shame them into re-channeling their behaviors in line with their own.

Those who have always seemed to champion intellectual curiosity and free discussion now act to stifle both as they engage in forms of name-calling, finger-wagging, and conscience-shaming.

This is nothing more than political correctness under the guise of conservatism.  Let's call it "conservative correctness." 

Name-Calling and Threats

Some leading social conservatives have warned compatriots who support Donald Trump that they are now Besmirched and Tainted.  They have Betrayed their comrades.  They are not serious religious conservatives; They are hacks and heretics.

Over the years, I have stood shoulder to shoulder with many of these folks as we have fought in Washington, D.C. and around the country to protect the definition of marriage.  During that time, I never once heard an unkind word uttered about opponents on the other side of the issue.  It seems that vituperation, passive aggression, and shaming have been reserved for close allies. 

Alinsky's Rules for Conservatives

Here are four of Saul Alinsky's twelve rules for radicals that might prove illuminating for Buckley conservatives:

Rule #1.  [T]he mass of our people ... must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future.

In recent years, many conservatives misread the mood of the country because so many among their leadership are sheltered in their comfortable enclaves in Washington, D.C.; Manhattan; and a few Ivy League universities.  They have been in no position to sense the shift, nor have they felt the need to pay attention to the Country Class and adjust their message.  Donald Trump has understood this from the start and has capitalized on it.

Rule #2.  A reformation means that masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don't know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless[.] ... The time is then ripe for revolution.

This is a perfect description of our country today.  Many feel, as both Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders have suggested, that "the system is rigged."  The system seems to favor immigrants, sexual minorities, and the investing classes, but not them.

When the Tea Party crashed upon the scene, one of its three foundational principles was free trade.  That message no longer resonates.  In many regions of the country, folks have concluded that free trade is precisely what has killed their jobs and decimated their communities and families.  Pure conservative ideology neither puts food on the table nor keeps futureless, moribund kids off drugs.

Rule #3.  As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. 

This is key.  Buckley conservatives now appear desperate to maintain a status quo that no longer exists, except in their own minds.  Tellingly, Republican candidate Trump represents a supreme existential threat, while Democrat candidate Clinton is merely an opponent.  

To the public they portray themselves as having their consciences tied up in knots.  They are unable to bring themselves either to support or to vote for Donald Trump because to do so would be to betray the purity of their souls.  If you ask me, that dog don't hunt.

The fact is, they are not constrained by conscience; they are constrained by political and financial calculus.  These are the same folks who have overseen one political and cultural loss after another while receiving acclaim and longstanding lucrative positions.  The left is not a threat to them.  On the contrary, fear-mongering is a wonderful source of fundraising.  The rise of Donald Trump, on the other hand, and the millions who back his candidacy are unmanageable forces that threaten to end their dominance on the political-cultural stage.

There's a reason the right has lost so many battles over the years.  And now Trump's "impure conservative" message is winning while the pure ideological message and attraction of Buckley conservatism has faded.  The Buckley conservatives didn't present their message in a convincing or attractive way.  They failed to make it relevant.  The left has done a better job of messaging, and now Donald Trump is doing the same.

Rule #9.  There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man's faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.

Ironically, because the conservative intelligentsia failed to sense this occurring in many millions of lives across the country, this has now become their own lot.

Candidate Clinton was skewered for calling Trump supporters a basket of deplorables.  But many Buckley conservatives deliver the same message to their fellow conservatives who support Trump.

The rise of Donald Trump is being presented by Buckley conservatives as a Hobson's choice: either vote for Trump and risk an eternity in hell for committing an unredeemable act or reject Trump on principle and allow the country to go to hell.  What a depressing, no-win proposition!  This choice offers no reasonable alternative for the tens of millions who do not view Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils, but who are in fact thrilled with both the candidate and his platform.

Instead of writing social conservatism's obituary, how about we take a cue from Obama's chief of staff immediately following the 2008 election and the financial crisis?

Never let a serious crisis go to waste ... it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

I write this not to insult, but to plead for an examination of conscience among many whom I think of as friends, colleagues, and fellow warriors who seek to protect life and human dignity.