They are to the Southwest and the West what the Irish were to New York and Boston 150 years ago. They do the work. They in the near generations will inherit the culture, just as the Irish did Boston. And so will the Mormons. The ride of this most astonishing American life force from Vermont to Utah is not yet over. In fact, it is just advancing. Both these people awaken together as the West awakens.
The New York-based left may still be stuck in the 1930s with Roosevelt, but as Robert Samuelson said yesterday in the Washington Post, the days of the welfare state are numbered. Europe and America are changing perceptively in the same political pattern across the spectrum; the left and the maudlin conservative middle, which are often indistinguishable, are feeling the pain of unabashed and original conservative populism. It is a change in temperament. The religious conservative force of Moshe Feiglin’s Jewish Leadership faction presses against the Americanized (New York) establishment in Israel. A new conservatism challenges England and they are having to bargain their way out of disaster. And it is coming to Germany. But the template can be seen in the Southwest and particularly in the Utah primary.
The denial of the press is palpable: Ask any politico or pundit in D.C., “Who lost the Republican convention in Utah?” The three-term, 76-year-old incumbent, Bob Bennett. Ask who won. No answer. The hundreds of articles written about this primary are about who lost, not who won. As in Isreal’s recent Likud election, they are about what is passing and what is just holding on, not about what is beginning. The answer is that Tim Bridgewater won by a good margin at 57 percent. Mike Lee came in second with 42 percent. These two are considered “Tea Party favorites” but Bridgewater just seems like a smart and capable characteristic Westerner; a self-made man who didn’t go to Harvard and who hasn’t yet plugged into the establishment. He grew up in a double-wide in West Jordan and went to Snow College on a football scholarship.
No question, the passing of Bennett, from the political scene marks a transition. The traditionalists, like New York Times’ David Brooks, thought they saw the Beatles tumbling down the steps from the airplane and went virtually apoplectic. But unless you were there you wouldn’t have noticed that when Bennett took the podium, he was given a rousing intro by Mitt Romney. There in the land of Mormons, where respect of the elders is elementary, Romney paid homage to the elder. And the crowd turned away from Bennett and from Romney.
We saw this last year in NY 23 when the rank and file lined up to oppose Conservative Party’s Doug Hoffman. We saw it just recently in the Texas primary where Cheney, George H.W. Bush, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes (W.’s proxy) and other party regulars lined up to oppose Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. Perry won in a landslide. And now the same pattern in Utah. Mitt Romney, favorite of the Bush camp, turned away on his own turf for the new conservatism.
In the U.S. this follows demographics. Power, population and economy are moving/have moved to the Southwest. They have the work force. They have the resources. They have the beginning life force that New York and New England began to experience in the 1820s. One way or another they will have the power.
In hindsight, that is what Nixon was about, that is what Reagan was about; that is what the entire post-war period which started with Eisenhower is about. The West will not be held back. Romney, a Mormon who went to Brigham Young, can call on experience back east as a Harvard Business School grad and governor of Massachusetts. But east coast credentials may be just the thing that takes it away from him in 2012.
Visit Mr. Quigley's website at http://quigleyblog.blogspot.com.