Memorial Day in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 87. Sunrise is 5:19 AM and sunset 8:25 PM for 15h 06m 04s of daytime. The moon is new with none of its visible disk illuminated.
In Whitewater, in Wisconsin, and across America, traditional conservatism is dead as a political force. Of the three types of conservatives in Whitewater (traditional, transactional, and populist) only two remain as a political force: the transactionalists and the populists. See Whitewater’s Local Politics 2021: The Kinds of Conservatives in Whitewater. Traditional conservatives dominated Old Whitewater, along with those needy enough to sit at their table:
This group wanes a bit more each year. They’re no longer the leading conservative force in Whitewater.
The most zealous of the boosters, however, were not locals at all, but new officials who became converts to the traditionalists’ boosterism so that they might have a place at the table. (Sometimes they weren’t even conservatives, but it was a conservative table setting.)
‘Wanes a bit more’ was a sympathetic understatement. It would have been more candid to write that traditional conservatism in Whitewater and everywhere else is, well, f-cking finished as a political force. If the traditional conservatives could sell all their political capital on eBay, they wouldn’t find any buyers to meet their reserve price (however low).
In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman asks Trumpism is leaving old-line conservatives behind. Can they catch up?:
Throughout the last seven years — since Donald Trump first grabbed hold of the GOP — the old Republican establishment has felt besieged and disoriented, struggling to accommodate itself to the new reality of the right. How do they avoid being cast off by a new and aggressive generation of leaders? Can they retain their influence and guide the party’s future, or will they become irrelevant? How can they stay on the conservative parade float?
You can see them trying in an interesting new proclamation, titled “America’s Crisis of Self-Doubt,” published Thursday in the National Review and signed by a few dozen old-school conservative luminaries, in which they enlist for the battle of the moment. In the process, they show just where the conservative center of gravity is today; it might have been titled, “Hey, can we get in on this exciting new culture war, too?”
Nevertheless, “America’s Crisis of Self-Doubt” is reminiscent of a document signed in 2010 by a similar group of Republican greybeards. Titled “The Mount Vernon Statement,” unveiled near George Washington’s estate, and featuring old-timey parchment and flowing script, it created a way for those Reagan-era conservatives to jump on the tea party bandwagon, a kind of Founding Father cosplay that was terribly in vogue at the time.
But it turned out that the tea party was all style; it was just trickle-down economics and racial panic in a tricorn hat. The new authoritarianism is those things, too, but it may turn out to be something more frightening. One thing, though, is clear: With the exception of a tiny number of dissenters, everyone in the Republican Party wants to get in on the act.
Trumpism, MAGA, conservative populism, etc. — it’s authoritarian nativism by whatever name, and it’s the dominant force on the right. The traditional conservative are finished, in Whitewater and everywhere else. There are, effectually, only conservative populists and a few double-talking transactionalists scheming to manipulate the populists as they did the traditionalists.
Politics — ‘the activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party’ — concerns both principle and practicality. Practicality, however, weighs heavily. Traditional conservatives aren’t as rare as flat-earthers, but they’re about as inconsequential; a few people believing as such make no difference in community affairs.
What a warning this should be, a humbling reminder to all: traditional conservatives were once everywhere, and now they’re few and feeble. Like American bison, they were once widespread, yet in a few years’ time, millions gone.