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NeoCohens: The Conservative Civil War

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 15:00
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(Before It's News)

By Hunter Wallace

Here’s the latest from the NeoCohens:

Noah Rothman:

“The acceleration of the Republican presidential primary race and Donald Trump’s entry into that contest has exposed rifts within the conservative movement that have since deepened. Wounds within the movement that have their origins in the earliest years of the tea party ascendancy — wounds that lingered and festered — have grown putrescent. They can no longer be ignored. Conservatism is in the midst of a civil war and, like all wars — even the figurative variety — the differences over which they are fought will not be resolved until one side emerges unambiguously victorious. Only when there a clear victor and an admitted loser emerges can there be reconciliation. It is wise, however, to expect reunion, not bifurcation, will be the result of this contest of ideas. After all, the Grand Old Party has survived greater schisms than that which is currently roiling its ranks. It is wise to prepare for the moment when conservatives meet at their Appomattox Court House and forge a new path forward. …”

Peter Wehner

“This kind of mystical appeal isn’t unheard of in American politics, but it isn’t normative. That’s all to the good, since there’s every reason to be wary of cults of personality and the rise of demagogues in our politics. And a demagogue is, in some respects, what Mr. Trump is.

While the criteria for identifying a genuine demagogue vary, what I have in mind is a political leader who appeals to emotions rather than reason and to people’s fears and prejudices. There is often the targeting of the “out-group.” Relying on personal charisma, a demagogue typically exploits situations to intensify popular support, thrives by creating divisions and seeks to manipulate the masses. Contradictions and false statements are overlooked and excused. For the demagogue, the problems we face are simple to solve, if the right leader is given the reins of power. All this creates a powerful bond with his followers, who prize “authenticity” over careful arguments and view the leader in nearly mystical terms.

It’s worth noting here that the demagogue, the embodiment of anti-reason, is what the American founders feared. Indeed, the founders designed a system of government – checks and balances, separation of powers – that was meant to prevent the rise of demagogues. It is a recurrent concern in The Federalist Papers, and, in fact is mentioned in the very first one.”


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