Its influence in American political and cultural life will only remain intact if it returns to first principles.
Following the 2012 reelection of Barack Obama, many proclaimed the death of modern American conservatism. The Titanic is sinking, said one commentator; the conservative arguments put forth in the campaign will soon be relics in a museum, wrote another. Demography is destiny, many said, and conservatism is the realm of old white men whose day is gone. This is the day of the young, of immigrants, of people of color, of women, who vote progressive, not conservative. A standard refrain was that conservatism needs to change both its methods and its message if it ever hopes to be successful again. In short, many called for an extreme makeover for modern American conservatism.
Others see in history a swinging pendulum, understanding that what is not in favor today may well rule the day tomorrow. In particular, election results often swing wildly from side to side, with one party racking up major victories in a presidential election, only to lose ground to the other side in the midterm elections a mere two years later. This is just what happened with Obama’s win in 2008, followed by the formation of the Tea Party and record losses for Democrats in 2010. As former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson put it, “A week in politics is a long time.”