Liberal moral legitimacy also puts conservatives in a bad spot, bad enough that liberals may prevail in today’s struggle over allowing Iran to acquire the bomb — a development America should unambiguously oppose.
Steele tells us:
post-1960s liberalism had so won over the culture, and so congealed into the new moral establishment, that conservatism — as a politics and a philosophy — became a centerpiece in liberalism’s iconography of evil. It was demonized and stigmatized as an ideology born of nostalgia for America’s past evils — inequality, oppression, exploitation, warmongering, bigotry, repression, and all the rest.
Conservatism — liberals believed — facilitated America’s moral hypocrisy. Its high-flown constitutional principles only covered up the low motivations that actually drove the country: the self-absorbed pursuit of wealth, the insatiable quest for hegemony in the world, the unacknowledged longing for hierarchy, the repression of women, the exploitation of minorities. . . Liberalism. . . won for its followers a veil of innocence[, a] gift that recommends it despite its legacy of failed, even destructive, public policies[—]the black underclass, the near disintegration of the black family, and the general decline of public education. . . Affirmative action presumed black inferiority to be a given, so that racial preferences locked blacks into low self-esteem and hence low standards of academic achievement.
conservatives. . . now feel evicted from their culture, . . .made to feel like outsiders even as they are accused of being traditionaists. And contemporary conservatism is now animated by a sense of grievance, by the feeling that the great principles it celebrates are now dismissed as mere hypocrisies.
[The] great irony that slowly emerged out of the turmoil of the 1960s is that conservatism became the new counterculture — a movement that was subversive in relation to the established liberal cultural order. And, continuing this irony, liberalism became the natural home of timid conventionalists and careerists — people who find it hard to know themselves outside the orthodoxies of mainstream “correctness.” The special energy of contemporary conservatism — what gives it the dynamism of a movement — comes from conservative outrage at being stigmatized in the culture as the politics in which all of America’s past evils now find a comfortable home.Conservatives may dislike being connected to America’s hypocritical past, but the link is, Steele writes, liberals’ “greatest source of authority.” Liberals successfully smother conservatism by identifying it as another word for American evil. Tainting conservatism — its principles, policies, and personalities — with past American shames remains for liberals an “endless font of power.”