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What’s Wrong with Movement Conservatism

Erick Erickson exemplifies the self-deluding movement conservative with this response to the failure of his preferred strategy:

Isn’t it interesting that when Ted Cruz and Jim DeMint were touring America to fight against Obamacare, the popularity of the GOP was going up and the popularity of Obamacare was going down. [sic]

But now that John Boehner and the Orange Man Group of Capitol Hill are the faces of the GOP, Obamacare’s popularity is going back up and the GOP’s popularity is going back down.

That might be interesting if it were true, but no reasonable interpretation of the evidence supports it. When Cruz and others were “touring,” not many people were paying attention to them. Thanks to the shutdown strategy that Erickson wanted and wants to continue, the public paid closer attention to what the defunders were doing in Washington. Unsurprisingly, most recoiled from it, blamed Republicans more for the shutdown, and approved of the party less. Party leaders did exactly what Erickson wanted, and it blew up in their faces. Even though they were merely going along with the bad idea he helped promote, Erickson wants to blame them for everything that has gone wrong. This is the domestic political equivalent of when Iraq war boosters tried to blame Rumsfeld for screwing up their otherwise “brilliant” plan. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Obviously, his purpose is to deflect blame for the political damage that Erickson and his allies inflicted on the GOP and on the opposition to the health care law, but the only people that would believe such a transparent deception are those that still imagine that Republicans are winning the standoff, and they are becoming fewer by the day. As if that weren’t enough, Erickson ties this to a blatant fundraising pitch for the organizations most responsible for foisting this failure on the GOP and for primary challengers against Republican leaders that went along with the doomed strategy for far longer than anyone would have thought possible. It is most of what is wrong with movement conservatism summed up in one short post: lie to your audience, evade responsibility for failure, and then urge people to throw their money away to fund more of the same “activism” that helped create the current mess.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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