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HORIST: Conservatism … a divided movement within a divided country

HORIST:  Conservatism … a divided movement within a divided country

In one of his most memorable speeches, Abraham Lincoln – drawing on his familiarity with the Bible – reaffirmed that a “house divided against itself cannot stand.”  He was speaking of a nation that could not continue to exist half slave and half free. Today, we are in an era of political chaos because we are politically a “house divided.”  We need no further evidence than to see the closeness of our elections.

The unfortunate dynamic of a political house divided is that the smallest marginal shift of just a couple percentage points in an election can make a fundamental dramatic shift in policy and programs.  Consequently, EVERY issue – regardless of its relative importance – becomes existential. We fight tooth and nail over everything.  In such an environment, spin becomes at least as important as facts.  Hence, the political chaos you see in the nation today.

One of the reasons that the left – the socialists – have been able to tamp down the growing conservative Republican consensus that started in 2010 — and gave the GOP its most powerful dominance of the political scene in American history – is that the conservative movement became bitterly divided over the 2016 presidential election. It is a house divided within a house divided.

Even worse, conservatives are up against the progressive movement that is now the core of the Democratic Party – a movement and party that are largely united in the pursuit of power.  Yes, there are factions in the background of the Democratic Party, but when it comes to implementation of politics and policy, they operate in great unity.  You see that in those congressional votes, where very few, if any, depart from the call of their leadership – and those that do rarely alter any outcomes.  You see it when Democrat candidates express progressive apostasy on the campaign trail to gain votes, but instantly fall in line when casting their votes on Capitol Hill.  Remember all those candidates who swore they would never vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker?

Those conservatives who did not want Trump to be the GOP nominee – including me – divided into two irreconcilable camps.  As people dedicated to principle and policy, many of us crossed our fingers and voted for Trump as the better of two choices.  It was not a happy choice, but an easy one.  It was a decision between empowering the liberal Democrats and their big government liberal agenda of taxing, spending, regulation and oppression of free speech or taking a chance – yes, a chance – that Trump and the greater Republican establishment would produce better policies despite the pugnacious and counterproductive Trump personality.

As the Trump administration moved on, I was pleasantly surprised at the President’s dedication to conservative appointments – especially to the Supreme Court – and conservative policies, such as school choice, deregulation, tax reduction, increased military spending and border security. These are the bedrock of conservative philosophy.

There was a segment of the historic conservative community who have a dramatically different view.  They, too, voted against Trump in the primaries.  After the election, they clung to their personal animus toward Trump even if it meant abandoning all those longstanding conservative beliefs. Since POLICY is the most important outcome of the political process – and it can be carried out by an individual of differing PERSONALITY — it is difficult to understand their thinking.

The apostates to their once-held conservative principles included such movement icons as Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, Washington Post columnist George Will and former Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele.  Others proclaiming fealty to conservatism while walking away from its principles and policies were such notables as MSNBC host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, Post columnists Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin, and so-called Republican strategists such as Elise Jordan and Steve Schmidt.

Some of these folks have left the Republican Party to become so-called independents but are as much into the Democratic Party as those other such self-proclaimed independents as Senators Bernie Sanders and Angus King.  Others have more honestly declared themselves to be Democrats.  Oddly, while they overtly support the left-wing – and even socialist policies – of the Democrats, they still claim to be the holders of the true values of conservatism.

Their opinion articles and quotes are now fodder for the left-wing east coast media cabal.  This group of one-time conservative Republicans can be easily found as frequent panelists on the hardcore left-wing talk shows betraying Republican and especially conservative values.

The fault line that divided the political tectonic plates of the conservative movement was always there, but an overarching political reality kept the two sides in reasonable harmony – until Trump.  It can be debated as to whether he caused the plates to separate or is the victim of it, but such blame-placing is irrelevant – the tectonic plates shifted, and the political ground is rumbling as a result.  On one side are the conservatives who remain dedicated to principles and on the other a cadre of false-flag conservatives who have surrendered their values to a visceral hatred of Donald Trump, the man.

What is peculiar and offensive to folks like me is the claim by these apostates that THEY remain the true practitioners of conservatism – the defenders of a cause under assault from Trump.  They proffer the illogical argument that by supporting the left, they are representing the right.  They are wrong and dishonest.

They go so far as to say that conservatives like me have been transformed into cultish followers of a Trumpian party – one that has usurped the Republican and conservative brands.  They seem to believe that their retreat from conservative values is a form of expelling us from those same values.  According to them, they did not change.  We did.

Au contraire.

They claim that Trump is not a conservative.  In the sense that he is not a longstanding member of the movement, I would agree.  To the extent that he has lived self-indulgent and the salacious life we commonly associate with liberal permissiveness, Trump has not been of the Christian conservative ilk – but even they can draw the distinction between the personality of the man and the political policies he pursues today.  Policy-by-policy, Trump has proven to be as much a conservative as any past President with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan.  Policy-wise, Trump has accomplished more of the historic conservative agenda than even Reagan, who did remarkably well considering he had to deal with a Democrat Congress.

When the conservative ex-patriots say that Trump is not a conservative and we who think he is are just … stupid … how do they explain away such impressive accomplishments as naming two solid conservatives to the Supreme Court, advancing school choice, calling for cuts in the federal budget in real dollars, mowing down generations of excessive regulations, ending the open border policies, pushing back against sanctuary cities and states, ending the abusive practices of the ill-named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, signing tax cuts, increasing military spending, producing fairer trade policies?  This list could go on for several more paragraphs, but it makes the point.

These false-flag conservatives even re-define the philosophy to better fit their apostasy.  They reject the basic foundation of conservatism, — limited government.  That does not mean no government, but that to whatever extent possible we should limit the power and influence of government over our daily lives – and especially the more distant and less responsive to we the people federal government.

These neo-progressives proffer the argument that we should not oppose big government, only bad government – not realizing that big government IS bad government.  They fly under the oxymoronic label of “big government conservatives” – which means they are not conservative at all.  As Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem.

What can be said is that those who previously claimed to be principled conservatives, but now endorse the advance of socialism by supporting the Democratic Party, is that they were never principled conservatives.  They were the fair-weather friends of the conservative movement.  They were embedded in Washington as part of the old political, social and cultural establishment.  Their political views were secondary to an old-school collegiality.

Their membership in the establishment is more important to them personally and financially than any dedication to principles.  It is why they myopically focus on the Trump personality instead of his policies.  In truth, they are neither dependable conservatives nor dependable liberals.  That are pragmatic “floaters” in the sea of politics.

If there was any one person who could best personify the hybrid big government conservative, it was the late George Herbert Walker Bush.  He was a man of admirable personal qualities whose personality was superior to his policies.  His sense of acceptable behavior was more important than the substance of policies.  Despite his read-my-lips campaign conservativism, he agreed to expand the federal government through taxes and regulations.  This elitist establishment tendency to put style above substance led him to actually vote for Hillary Clinton – potentially the most left-wing socialist President in American history.  Bush was a pretty good President, but he definitely was no Ronald Reagan – and he did not absorb Reagan’s bedrock philosophy even by hanging around the Oval Office for eight years as Vice President.

I suppose in this day of self-identification, anyone can call themselves a conservative.  They can also call themselves an eagle if they wish.  But they still cannot fly among real the eagles.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Jim

    Great analysis! Too many people hate President Trump, however, they love his policies. Conversely, too many people loved President Obama and hated his policies. Fact is, that policies matter , not the man.

  2. Fred Nelson

    Dead on pal! Why does clear thinkinvaag elude a person like George will? I used to hold him in high esteem-no more. The only course for America to take is too faithfully follow conservative
    policies and principals and to reject all representatives and advocates of progressive lies. 0

  3. Tom Sweeney

    I don’t see why us true conservative people can’t play there game and put a few moles in there party. Then have our people mess things up for them and put a wedge in there insane ideas and morals. Im not a politician but I believe in the biblical ways because it’s Gods. Just throwing that out there.

  4. Red

    Glad you came around to see what Trump could do for America…

  5. Jim

    Hey Fred, George Will and his pals went brain dead 10 years ago when they all went head over heel in love with Barry and 3 years ago started their hatred of Trump.There is absolutely no logical way to explain why these so called intellects became deranged in their thinking. Maybe they lost their way home.

    • 66 e-type

      because they are actually pseudo intellects rather than intellects.

  6. John Noble

    Fine article except for your implication that Lincoln’s “house divided against itself” quote from the Bible justified violating the constitutional protection of the institution of slavery. Furthermore, I find it disgusting to use the “house divided against itself” quote to justify a military coup against a Union in which everyone knew that some were free, some were not. All of those which joined the Union were independent nation-states whose sovereignty and rights of state & local self-government were to be protected. It is also disingenuous to deny the right of those independent nation-states to peacefully withdraw if and when that compact is breached. The original document never said that the Union was “indivisible”.

    While we can all agree that slavery is evil, we have a problem acknowledging the legitimacy of why God enslaved His Chosen people for 430 years in Egypt, later under the Assyrians, then again under the Babylonians, etc., and that He did it for a righteous and justifiable reason. The Bible has many things to say about slavery and provides rules & regulations for the treatment of slaves. The Apostle Paul sent his dear friend Onesimus, a runaway slave, back to his Roman master with an appeal for his release. Paul respected the authority of Roman law. Americans fail to recognize that Lincoln’s military coup changed our form of government from a “bottom-up” system of state & local self-government to a “top-down” system in which the 3 branches of the federal government no longer check & balance federal aggression. Lincoln added an additional power to Article 1, Section 8 which gives the federal branches of government title of “Morality Police” over the states, so now every new administration is free to impose its arbitrary secular humanism socialist/totalitarian standards upon a nation of people founded on Judeo-Christian biblical principles of freedom. All Abe did was to convert physical slavery into political repression, and now we are all working as slaves on Uncle Sam’s Plantation. The constitution is no longer the rule of law, but is now a dead letter which both political parties continue to use, abuse and kick to the curb in their battle to determine who is going to be the chief alligator in the swamp.

  7. Tom

    I agree that Trump has been a good president and I also agree that the house needs to get itself in order because we are divided no matter who wins the next election there may be nobody left after it. The words of looking are the most important right now the house must get together.

  8. Tom Davis

    Hopelessly divided as seen by the close elections if we don’t all get together we will lose our freedoms and everything else

  9. Tom

    The required fields are filled out correctly. Again if everyone doesn’t get together everyone loses.

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