Thursday, February 21, 2008

John O'Sullivan considers the Conservative Interest and John McCain

An excellent column by National Review editor at large, John O'Sullivan titled The Conservative Interest: McCainiacs and anti-McCainiacs
......... I had argued that some of these conditions had applied in the recent past. In fact I maintained that two of the three in extremis justifications had recently applied on two different occasions.

The first occasion was the first of the two British elections of 1974. On that occasion I was not in favor of reelecting Ted Heath. He was promising what a Marxist group (which asked its members to vote Tory) called the most extensive program of socialism and state control—including control of wages, prices, and dividends, and the establishment of a tripartite Labor Union-Corporate Business-Government council that would determine economic policy — ever proposed in Britain. I voted for an independent conservative candidate. That vote was not cast from any Leninist “the worse, the better” reasoning but because I thought that Heath’s solutions would make a terrible national situation much worse while also being harder to oppose because they would likely be supported by both the government and the Left.

As it happens, things worked out well: Heath was defeated and succeeded by Thatcher who reversed Tory policy, adopted sensible free-market policies, won power four years later, and instituted Thatcherism. Something similar happened in the U.S. when the failure of the Carter administraion and the over-reaching of the Soviets led to Reagan’s 1980 victory (though Gerald Ford’s policies bore no relationship to the Heath madness and would not have justified Republican abstentions.) But those of us who rejected party loyalty in favor of conservative principles in Britain have to concede that it might have turned out very differently—and much worse. I can justify the risk we took only by the extreme folly of the Tory government’s policy—and by our knowledge that some Tory leaders, imprisoned temporarily in the Heath orthodoxy, would take the Tories in a more genuinely conservative direction if given the chance by defeat.
read the whole column