The Corner

Politics & Policy

Should Real Conservatives Define What Real Conservatives Believe?

This morning Mona Charen excoriates critics of the Russian-collusion investigation: “What is the difference between other democracies and the U.S.? Only here does dismissing the threat of Russian interference now equate with loyalty to the president.” Meanwhile Jonah Goldberg sticks up for Don McGahn: “It looks as if a lot of people, when forced to choose, will opt to throw McGahn under the bus, because loyalty to the president is now the definition of what it means to be a Republican or a conservative.”

Putting these two passages together in a syllogism, it seems that from now on, only those who both dismiss the threat of Russian interference and opt to throw McGahn under the bus will be allowed to call themselves Republican or conservative. That’s a pretty high bar. Jonah writes more in sorrow than in anger, and Mona vice versa, but it’s clear they both think there’s too much excluding taking place on the right today.

Now, I have no more use for the Trump-can-do-no-wrong-cons than Mona and Jonah. Still, when the debate reaches the stage when we start questioning the credentials of fellow conservatives who are questioning the credentials of fellow conservatives, things have gotten a little too meta for me. Admittedly, even Eleanor “Nobody Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent” Roosevelt would find her patience tried by today’s daily online hatestorms. But through it all, we know that however annoyed Mona and Jonah may get, they won’t be deterred from speaking their minds just because a Twitter posse questions their loyalty to the cause. In the end, a party (or movement) with the time and energy to spend tussling over who’s in and who’s out is either small enough to be insignificant or big enough to withstand some internal brawling. Let’s hope that conservatism stays in the second category instead of the first.

Fred Schwarz — Fred Schwarz is a deputy managing editor of National Review.

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