I think we are seeing a great political party shatter before our eyes. I’m not sure I see a way around or through. I said so on TV the other night and got a lot of responses on social media. They said: Good. They said, “They are corrupt,” and “I am through.” Good riddance to bad rubbish. Next.
I am not experiencing it that way. For me the Republican Party was always the vehicle of a philosophy, conservative political thought — no more, no less. I have the past 10 years been its critic on wars and immigration, on the establishment’s self-seeking and failures of imagination. And yet at the prospect of the party’s shattering I feel somewhat shattered too. So many lives, so much effort went into its making. “I am more faithful than I intended to be.”
I knew Tuesday night I was witnessing something grave, something bigger than 1976, that traumatic year when a Republican insurgent almost toppled the incumbent Republican president. Bigger too than 1964, when Goldwater conservatism swept the primaries and convention and lost the country. What is happening now is bigger and less remediable in part because the battles in the past were over conservatism, an actual political philosophy.