David Frum: Is It 1968? – Commentary

We of the center-right have learned something alarming about the susceptibility to extremism, not only of American democracy in general, but of our political coalition in particular. We’ve learned something painful about the dwindling relevance of the conservative doctrines of the past generation to the political needs of the present generation. We’ve learned something humbling about the character of many of our own friends and allies in submitting to a charlatan who never even bothered to pretend to be anything else. We’ve learned something ominous about the gathering power of tribalism in a society riven by rapid migration and slowing economic growth.

It’s our test now whether we can put this learning to timely and wise use to defend the American experiment against a dangerous and depressing insurgency by those people—and that party—who so long presented themselves as its most faithful champions. It’s time to take upon ourselves the mission of half a century ago: to mobilize the great conservative-minded American center to rescue the country from its ideological extremes.

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