Cultural Leadership


Why Institutions Always Betray Conservatives

By Robert W. Whitaker – bio

The Citadel Board has now joined the South Carolina state newspaper in its campaign to take the Confederate flag off the State House dome. A short time ago, Bob Jones University joined the state in its campaign.

When Beasley turned on the Confederate flag, every single statewide Republican official backed Beasley. Seventy-five percent of Republicans had voted in a recent primary to keep the Confederate flag atop the State House. One politician, without consulting with anybody, reversed that stand all by himself.

Given a choice between the politician and the conservative grassroots, the Republicans had, as always, backed the politico. They say they love us dearly, but when push comes to shove, the first thing any Republican does is spit in the grassroots conservatives' faces.

Obviously, they fear no conservative backlash. It never even occurs to them to fear such a thing.

When the present Bob Jones turned on us on the flag issue, he, like every conservative when he turns on us, thought he was being shrewd. He is probably bragging about how he has proved to liberals that he is not unreasonable. Actually, the state is happy to use him. After the flag issue, it will continue its war against Bob Jones University.

But, for the moment, Bob Jones thinks he is being smart. After all, he can count on blind conservative support, no matter what he does. So he is using this cheap trick to get liberal approval.

Conservatives invest everything in institutions they trust. In the meantime, leftists work at taking over or subverting those institutions.

Somewhere in his public statement, every conservative spokesman always includes a knee-jerk demand for more uniforms, more soldiers, more sailors. If a bunch of men start making loud comments about how they love a guy in uniform, you have to look carefully to see whether they are on a San Francisco street corner or at a conservative convention.

Conservatives fell in love with uniforms during World War II and the Cold War. Leftists were all for World War II, and they loved the military then. Even the Communist Party of America was totally in support of America's fighting men until the middle of 1945. After all, those troops were fighting on the side of our "Glorious Ally," Joseph Stalin.

But the second the military ceased to serve the purposes of the political left, the political left ceased to support the American military. When the military stopped supporting leftist purposes and was used against Communism, the left became anti-military. With the left, its principles come before loyalty to any institution.

Not so the right. Since the end of the Cold War, America's military has consistently been used for purposes no conservative could support. During the Cold War, the left extended its control over foreign policy and the military. Today, any leftist initiative can count on the support of America's generals.

The right continues to worship generals, so the left continues to use them.

The blind conservative backing of institutions over principles encourages institutions to back the left. After all, any institution like the Citadel has the right in its back pocket. It's got uniforms, and rightists will sell out any principle if someone in uniform asks them to. Any institution that's got uniforms has rightist support sewed, so they seek the backing of the left. If you want broad support, the ideal combination is uniforms and leftist principles.

So when Clinton made enforcing racial and ethnic balance by military force America's official doctrine, he got a general to declare it (June 12, "Busing By Bomber"). McCain, an ex-uniform wearer, is his Republican spokesman for this policy of ethnic balance.

And how does the right react to this? The Southern Partisan editorial staff split fifty-fifty on whether to support McCain for president! The same rule applies in institutional politics that operate in electoral politics - anyone who can take you for granted is not going to do anything for you. The Republican Party kicks conservatives in the teeth on a regular basis. Its excuse is always, "Conservatives have nowhere to go. They have to support Republicans."

I talked about this blind, completely immoral backing of institutions by conservatives on June 5 in "Blind Loyalty Is the Real Treason." It was obvious to me when I first got into serious politics in the 1950s.

In the 1950s, Northern conservatives blindly backed "The Party of Lincoln," no matter what it did to their principles. At the same time, Southern conservatives just as blindly backed "The Party of Jefferson Davis." While these dodos were blindly backing their respective institutions, liberals took over complete control of both parties. Rockefeller Republicans, who were an infinitesimal part of the Republican Party, held more power over the platform and the presidential nomination than did the overwhelming conservative majority.

The Democratic presidential nomination and platform were simply owned outright by liberals. And the majority of Southerners gave them absolute, blind, unquestioning loyalty. Can anybody call that "moral," a word conservatives are always claiming that they own?

So our blind loyalty to uniforms and other institutions gives liberals a free ride in their campaign to quietly turn them into instruments of leftist policy. So Bob Jones and the Citadel, fresh from enjoying our support in their conservative battles, promptly sell us out.

Until we stop substituting blind loyalty for personal morality, we are going to be sold out. In real world politics, when you give your loyalty blindly, you ask to be betrayed. And in the cold, hard world of power politics, you get exactly what you ask for.


Robert W. Whitaker was born and raised in South Carolina, went to the University of South Carolina and the University of Virginia Graduate School. He has been a college professor, international aviation negotiator, Capitol Hill senior staffer, Reagan Administration appointee, and writer for the Voice of America. He has written numerous articles and two books. He can be contacted at rwhitaker@palmetto.org.

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