Conservatism—Bill Buckley’s version of it, anyway—is dead. It’s just as well. It failed to conserve much of anything. A movement standing athwart history and yelling stop in 2021 will remember four score and seven only as the number of genders.
There’s precious little in contemporary American life worth conserving. There’s a tremendous amount to cherish, however, in this country’s grand traditions. What America needs today is a counterrevolutionary restoration.
And that’s a problem. The GOP has spent decades promoting respectable, cautious, incrementalists like Mitch McConnell, John Roberts, and Kevin McCarthy—fine men blessed with none of the skills necessary to lead a counterrevolution.
Worse, conservatism has always held a particular attraction for people who view prudence, risk-aversion, reverence, and obedience as virtues. These traits are as overrepresented among rank-and-file Republicans as they are within party leadership. America’s “Great Awokening” has thrown them into a state of deep inner turmoil. After all, a corrupted American institution is still an American institution. Even when all available evidence screams that institutional leadership has betrayed America, noncompliance feels wrong.