Conservatism, Inc., Indulges Its Own

Watching a recent discussion on Fox News between Chris Stirewalt and Guy Benson concerning George Will’s exhortation to Republican voters to support Democratic candidates in the upcoming congressional election, I thought of the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election.  According to this teaching, those whom divine Providence elevates to sainthood can never lose their ascribed status.  Once divinely elected, the sinner remains in a state of grace no matter how far he strays.  The conservative movement offers a somewhat less dramatic, secular version of this dogma.  It goes like this: someone whom the movement has raised to celebrity can never lose his “conservative” cachet no matter how far he deviates from the established party line.  The only obvious exception to this rule concerns those who move inappropriately toward the right or else fail to move toward the left when the rest of the authorized movement does.  Presumably, someone who still held to the view expressed by conservatives concerning Martin Luther King circa 1970 would no longer be acceptable as a conservative.  Neither would someone who raised substantive objections to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s or who was preoccupied with I.Q. disparities.

But any conservative celebrity may lunge to the left without fear of being kicked out of the movement entirely or shunned by other conservative rock stars.  Illustrations of my proposition reach my ears every time I flick on “conservative” TV.  For example, Fox commentators still occasionally refer to David Frum as a “conservative” NeverTrump, although Frum happily joined the left years ago.  They also don’t quite know what to do with Bill Kristol and Max Boot, who are still recognized as conservatives, albeit conservatives who have…

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