Post-election thoughts: Where Have All the Conservatives Gone?

The following is from the introduction of the email I sent out to all of ISI’s Volunteers this week after the elections:

Over the past week, many right-of-center college students have felt disappointed. The Republican Party many of them supported has now lost power in both houses of Congress. But is this really a time to be gloomy? The ISI student knows better.

As M. Stanton Evans said in his 1964 book, Revolt on the Campus, “The ISI student, first of all, must have a desire for something different, something in contrast to the collective orthodoxy; he must have spontaneous sympathy for the philosophy of freedom and the kind of intellect that spurns simplistic fallacies, and opens into the deeper logic of free men and free institutions.”

A month before the 2006 election, Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative, published an article critical of the state of campus conservatism, “GOP and Man at Yale,” which I encourage you to read. In his article, McCarthy claimed that, “The intellectual dexterity that once distinguished campus conservatives has given way to mindless Republican boosterism.” As we move forward as conservatives, we must remember the principles we cherish.

Being a conservative is not about having some kind of power. For, as Lord Action reminded us, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Being a conservative is something different. It is holding on to an idea and keeping that idea alive no matter where the tide of history takes us. As T. S. Eliot told us, “We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation it will triumph.”

With these thoughts in mind, we must continue to educate ourselves on the principles of a free society and do our part to expand this education to others around us. For more than 53 years, ISI has played a vital role in the “culture wars” and we have been inspired by great men like Russell Kirk who emphasized that it is more important to renew the culture than simply to be focused on seizing some kind of political power. Culture comes before politics. If the culture is renewed, the politics will follow. Below are some ways you can help renew the culture and revitalize the conservative intellectual movement in America.

From there, I pointed students and faculty to our resources, which you can get at:

Get social with us!

Leave a Reply