The question that might be asked, as CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) recedes again into winter's light, is: How did conservatism drift from William F. Buckley Jr. to that blunt and bewhiskered rural, Phil Robertson? Republicans could face catastrophic failure ahead, with the angry, absurd and amateurish rude boys they nurture and publicly send forth to the world today.

Washington Post political correspondent Chris Cillizza reported that Jeb Bush did "very, very" well at CPAC. His was a remarkable Q&A with Fox's Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityBook claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election 9 Republicans not named Trump who could run in 2024 Fox Nation to stream primetime Fox News shows in full MORE, possibly marking a significant political turning in America, but some walked out in protest. Maybe next year, conservatives walk out on CPAC.


When the Tea Party first arose around 2009, political analyst Michael Barone compared it to the Sixties. It was an astute observation, as both the early Sixties and the Tea Party followed a classic and familiar anthropology model: trickster phase, hero phase, general emergence of a new culture. The loud and boorish Tea Party today, from the ever present 1776 reenactors to the strident, obtuse and dangerously provocative radio personalities — whose presence was strongly felt at CPAC — has marginalized itself.

A similar thing happened in 1968 at the Democratic convention in Chicago, where the protesters' placards read "Chicks up front!" so young women would be seen bloodied by police on the evening news during the riots at Grant Park. That phase of the Sixties, led and manufactured by activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, soon receded. The Tea Party, with its increasingly strange and possibly unhinged cultural avatars, must likewise now pass into oblivion if forward progress is to be made.

The Sixties is said to have started at the famous folk festival in Newport, R.I., three years before. But it went on to form the generalized political culture that author Larry Sabato calls the "Kennedy half-century." It is possible to see President Obama today as the last Kennedy of that era and to see the beginnings rising instead of a new conservatism, based on states' rights, sound money and constitutional government, beginning primarily with heartland Americans, comfortable in the places and free from the political abstractions that have plagued and dominated this past century.

The incredible rise to conservativism nationally in the November elections and the unique and powerful challenge brought to Obama's unlawful initiatives on immigration by the very, very impressive new Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and 25 other states suggests a new awakening.

And as The Hill reports, this year, up to 200 states rights' cases advance, challenging federal dominance. Austrian economics has also entered the conversation, with new thinking on capital and gold, useful to states and regions. With these approaches, the "small government" anthem — which for too many conservatives has only been a back door or rear guard action to weakening liberal federal structures already standing to provide new ones — may now more positively advance to strengthening and structuralizing state and regional self-governance and identity. This is a Jeffersonian approach to self-government, in opposition to centralized government, which has dominated since the Colonial period. It begins to take form now in our rising century.

New arrivals like Republican Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Joni Ernst of Iowa bring a distinguished and able moral presence to the Senate. They present themselves with maturity, respect, confidence and decorum, befitting their status as American senators. Let the conversation begin anew with them and with the governors. And send Sarah Palin back to Alaska.

It is time to leave the Tea Party behind, just as liberalism left the theatrical and decadent political nihilists behind, called "yippies" by Hoffman, after Kent State.

Time to move on, if conservatism hopes to move forward.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at