Conservatives, Enough With the Nostalgia

Instead of whining about the past, build on the giants' work
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2010 1:52 PM CDT
A 2004 file photo of the late William F. Buckley Jr.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, file)

(Newser) – Jonah Goldberg is tired of hearing the same lament from fellow conservatives (as well as liberal critics): Oh, for the "good old days" of conservatism, when we had esteemed giants such as William F. Buckley Jr. and Irving Kristol instead of Andrew Breitbart and company. It's nostalgic nonsense, Goldberg writes in the Los Angeles Times. First of all, nobody "confuses Breitbart for Buckley," notably Breitbart himself. The comparison is a cheap trick that illustrates a larger point: "The best conservatives are always dead; the worst are always alive and influential," he writes.

"Those who pine for the good old days fail to grasp that the good old days were, in the ways that matter, often quite bad," writes Goldberg. "The heyday of the 'institution builders' was a low-water mark for conservatism's political success (that's why they built institutions!). Conservatism hardly lacks for top-flight intellectuals these days, but the intellectuals aren't the avant-garde anymore. Thanks to their success at building institutions and spreading ideas, the battle has been joined. And now is not the time to wax nostalgic for the planning sessions."

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