The US politician Barry Goldwater was known in his day as "Mr Conservative." However, in his book The Conscience of the Conservative he wrote:
"I feel certain that Conservatism is through unless Conservatives can demonstrate and communicate the difference between being concerned with [the unemployed, the sick without medical care, human welfare, etc.] and believing that the federal government is the proper agent for their solution."
This prophecy by Goldwater now appears to be coming to pass. A recent poll on behalf of CNN by ORC International found that 54% of Americans view the Republican Party - the bastion of American Conservatism - in an unfavourable light, this stretching across every major demographic, men, women, the young, the old, the rich, the poor and every region of the US, except the south. The GOP is viewed by most as "out of touch" and the party of "stuffy old men,"
Yet despite this, the GOP still seems to have not learnt its lesson.
Nowhere was this more evident than at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past weekend. Not only was Sarah Palin the guest of honour, giving a fire and brimstone speech that condemned the President she and John McCain lost to in 2008, a "liar," but the CPAC straw poll of potential Presidential candidates was won by Rand Paul, Tea Party darling and poster boy of everything that the American people rejected at the last election.
What the members of the GOP have failed to understand is that no matter how often they offer up sacrificial tax cuts at the shrine of St Reagan, the majority of American people and what they want from a government have moved on. Not only have they realised that under a Republican administration, they tend to end up with less money in their pockets, or without access to healthcare they desperately need, they are also starting to get sick of the hypocrisy that comes with the Republican platform. Any party that promises small, unobtrusive government and then tries to federally legislate whether or not a woman can get an abortion, is one that most probably has duplex vexillum (double standards) as its motto
Despite their last two presidential candidates running on a hard right platform and then losing, the majority of potential candidates for 2016 are those on the far right of the party - Rand Paul and Rick Santorum being two possibilities. Meanwhile moderate candidates who could win, such as Jon Huntsman or Chris Christie, are slammed for being RINOs and too moderate.
Unless the Republican party can modernise quickly, pushing out the Tea Party cuckoos in the conservative nest and, as Goldwater said, effectively communicate why what they believe is best for the American people, than they will continue to get no-where and we will soon witness between twelve and sixteen years of Democrat dominance while the American right, will descend into a bloody and protracted civil war.
Unless the Republican Party learns from its fellow conservative parties and make itself relevant once again, than as Goldwater feared, conservatism in the US, may well be through.