I have long suspected that the emergence of the Neo-Conservative dominance (NeoCons) in Republican politics was a device to supplant what had been the Old Right traditions of liberty, limited government, and non-interventionism, with the vain and expensive pains and punishments of the police state, overreached government, and global adventurism in the name of empire - the acquisition of client states by whose acquiescence is also gained with a bitter hatred for the conqueror.
What is troublesome, and what many people do not see for what it is, instead, claiming it to be all a part of an “inevitable and gradual shift of the American public to the left” as some pundits claim, but rather a subtle bait-and-switch: as many (but certainly not all) Neo-conservatives have had a history of being leftists and liberals in their now and increasingly distant youth who have embraced the grand statist designs and interventionism of their liberal ancestors (Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Truman to name a few) .
There is a saying among some of us Paleo-conservatives that the we did not leave the Republican Party mainstream, but that the Party has left - and moved to the left - of us. This is proving to be a truism, in that as the “new right” of the 1960s grew out of the decisive split between the decidedly liberal Rockefeller “country club” Republicans (most of whom came from the Northeastern “Yankee” states) and those who followed Barry Goldwater, as well as the Old Right that had decried the New Deal as something wrought by the Devil himself.
History bears that the Old Right had fallen out of favour, as much shown the door as the John Birchers and the last of the America Firsters had been when William F. Buckley, Jr., had drummed them out of the Party Faithful.
Actually, we have been here all along, waiting for history and wisdom to vindicate their children; yet, I am as yet uncertain what shall be left to us if the GOP, or at least, those left among the American people who want a strong America without mixture in socialism and its sovereignty irretrievably broken.
The line between the Rockefellerites (now better known by the perjorative “RiNOs”, or “Republicans in Name Only” and those who had followed in the van of Goldwater, particularly Ronald Reagan, came to be blurred (much to Goldwater’s later chagrin) as Reagan (a former Truman Democrat) and his “70% compromise” became the rule of the day to unite the Party, and win those undecided independent voters and marginally conservative Southern Democrats (formerly Dixiecrats among them).
This “70% principle” was based on the idea that where the interests of the divergent factions of the GOP meshed (from Reagan’s point of view particularly - strong national defense, opposition to Soviet Communism, and certain allowances for larger government) , the party would benefit from this compromise. Reagan’s victories with this coalition of the conservatives both old and new, and North (moderates and liberals) and South (social conservatives and the “religious right”) and West (libertarians and small government proponents) was a smashing success in 1980, along with other elements contributing to his victory.
As successful as the Reagan Coalition was throughout the 1980s, it gave rise to an otherwise increasingly left-leaning GOP leadership, specifically, the NeoCons - as the former Rockefellerites merged with the Goldwater/Reagan wing of the party, we see the rise of the Bush Dynasty, and along with it, the Republican Revolution of 1994 which brought in many who empathized with the promise of a new American Empire whilst claiming to want to reduce and not repeat the mistakes of the previous Democratic incumbents who they had replaced.
Instead of reducing and repealing the mistakes of Clinton - especially his international adventurism to spread “democracy” at gunpoint, the GOP became a plaything of the Neocons and the PNAC - the “Project for a New American Century” whose goal was to remake the world in America’s image, as well as secure America’s place at the head of the world table.
China, Russia, and India. along with the European Union might - and have received such grandiose notions as the effrontery that it is; in large measure, it has cost us that very place in the court of world opinion that the NeoCons desire to take by force and by manipulation of market forces.
Today’s NeoCons may well have fallen far short of Goldwater’s standard through its excessive accommodations of liberal ideals of big-government statism and interventionism, and worse, may be all but a ruse from the left (of we may hold the NeoCons’ origins as 1960s liberals against them) to play as political Bobbsey Twins as the Old Right is thought to be relegated to the role of a forgotten Danny Rugg - once a scary figure of McCarthyism and conspiracy theories grown old into as a crazy old uncle to be forever locked up in the actic as a marginalized and laughable fool by the mainstream of the GOP…
In the 1964 election, Goldwater’s once said that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” If indeed PaleoCons are to be painted as marginalized contrarians who continually thumb our noses at the mainstream mess of moderated mediocrity that the (now left-wing) GOP has become — mired by similar if not the same traps as the farther left Democrats have long faced — then it is not without a small amount of displeasure that I should point out that the contest of left vs. far left will only drag this nation further into national malaise and international derision as long as we heel to the failed policies of Socialism and government forced social engineering
The relegation to the Old Right to the margins serves a purpose best described by one late Samuel Francis, who in his day was derided as something of a irregular man, and even accused of racism and antisemitism by his enemies. Regardless of his actual position on matters of race, he said one thing in particular that catches my interest, per the September 2003 article he wrote for Chronicles Magazine (not available online at this time) :
This silence about the paleocons was the result, in part, of the abysmal ignorance of the writers of most such articles but also of the hidden purpose that lurked beneath much of what they wrote. That purpose was not so much to “deconstruct” and “expose” the neocons as to define them as the real conservative opposition, the legitimate (though deplorable and vicious) “right” against which the polemics and political struggle of the left should be directed. The reason the left prefers the neocon “right” to a paleo alternative is, quite simply, that the neocons are essentially of the left themselves and, thus, provide a fake opposition against which the rest of the left can shadowbox and thereby perpetuate its own political and cultural hegemony unchallenged by any authentic right.
This sums up quite well the development of the “evil of the two lessers” we face every four years now at the ballots for some time.