could only confuse them.rnTo defend an entire civilization is a task too imposing evenrnfor our self-conceit, and we have limited our primaryrnsphere of activity to “American culture,” which we do notrnconstrue according to any exceptionalist or Whitmanesque formula.rnOur American cultures only make sense as regional andrnprovincial variations on some very ancient themes, but sincernthis is where and when we are, we are determined to defendrnand discuss the particularities of American life with as muchrnzeal as if we were pagan Romans trying to restore the altar ofrnvictory removed by triumphalist Christians.rnOne important part of our particular tradition is a suspicionrnof elite classes and a faith in the good heart and commonrnsense of ordinary people. The principles of federalism and subsidiarityrnare universal and can be seen at work in every great civilization,rnbut in the American context they have taken onrnspecifically Jeffersonian forms. Individual liberty, householdrnautonomy, states’ rights, and nonintervention in the affairsrnand wars of other nations—these are the best American principlesrnwe know, and to be a conservative American shouldrnmean a commitment to the restoration of the American orderrnestablished by our ancestors and defended by Adams and Jeffersonrnalike.rnIf the Conservative Movement or the Republican Party willrnstand with us in defending our birthright, we are their allies, butrnif they continue to expand the welfare state, call for drug warsrnthat violate the sanctity of private property, and send Americanrntroops all over the globe like so many Janet Renos—socialrntherapists armed with tanks and poison gas—then we say thatrnGeorge Wallace’s “dime’s worth of difference” has sufferedrnfrom inflation.rn”What hopeless idealists you are. Your futility is as charmingrnas your vanity is offensive. Because the world is not to yourrntaste, you refuse to cooperate with any practical plans thatrnmight improve the economy or limit the damage being inflictedrnby the left.” This is the most serious charge of all, butrnis it really so damaging? A small magazine cannot influence,rnmuch less carry, an election. We have no lavish foundationrngrants with which to bribe discredited Cabinet officials or lurerncelebrity professors whose falling academic stock or disorderedrnpersonality makes them vulnerable to conservative blandishments,rnand if we signed onto the latest conservative manifestornand had our ticket punched on the way into “The Big Tent” tornwatch the one-ring circus, where the entertainment consists entirelyrnof pitchmen hawking political vegematics and Ginsurnknives, our presence would contribute exactly nothing.rnIn electoral strength. Chronicles is on par with Commentary,rnwhich is to say nowhere, although our themes unquestionablyrnare resonating with that vast minority which might still threatenrnto overthrow the regime, which is why we can still scare thernpants off the more thoughtful representatives of both parties.rnWhat we can hope to accomplish, by sticking to our guns, is tornensure that certain ground will not be given up without arnfight. When, seven or eight years ago, we started to discuss thernquestion of immigration, Chronicles was alone among conservativernpublications, except for the book section of National Reviewrnwhere Chilton Williamson and his friends were, for arntime, holding the fort against the Republican one-wodders.rnSeveral well-wishers in those days advised me to give it up. Afterrnall, our “Nation of Immigrants” issue precipitated thernbiggest split in conservative history and provoked National Reviewrnto threaten to “excrete” us from the movement. (NRrnstaffers have always said it was Bill Buckley, but he, characteristically,rnwas careful not to leave his fingerprints on the bladernhe stuck in our back.) These days. National Review and its sensiblern(albeit English) editor have brought his magazine over tornour side, for which we are pleased and grateful. The most recentrnsign of NR’s return to the paths of righteousness is an articlernon Jack Kemp written by David Frum, a Canadian fifthrncolumnist at the Wall Street journal. Unfortunately Frum, arntypical specimen of the soi-disant conservative, has carried hisrnreverence for Martin Luther King to the point of imitating hisrnstyle, and his article is “voice-merged” from what Jeff Tuckerrnhas written in Chronicles.rnBut immigration and Jack Kemp’s gauchisme are only twornout of a large number of questions that we either raised for thernfirst time or opened for discussion. The ethnic and regionalrnconflicts, which almost ten years ago we were discussing, arernnow front-page news even in the New York Times. We werernpublished in a piece entitled “Tears for Bosnia” several years beforernthe breakup of Yugoslavia. We were the first Americans torntalk about the Lega Nord and had the hrst American interviewrnwith Umberto Bossi. We were the first to combine the issuesrnof trade, immigration, and foreign policy into a program ofrnAmerica First, just as Chronicles was the first publication of anyrnkind to reassess the original America First Committee. NationalrnPublic Radio’s All Things Considered interviewed mostrnof the contributors to our December 1991 issue withoutrnacknowledging the source. We don’t mind, though, becausernwe are used to it.rnThese are the kinds of things an “obscure” magazine can do,rnif it is left free to follow its nose and sniff out significance, likernpigs looking for truffles. “Well, why can’t you be content to bernoriginal, without being so cantankerous?” The most obviousrnanswer is that we have a character defect that prevents us fromrnlying and equivocating in one place in order to tell the truth inrnanother. Candor is an infectious disease, and once it gets goingrnit eats up every drop of common sense.rnA more practical answer is that it is our job to be tough,rnparticularly on those who presume to call themselves conservativesrnor right-wingers. This is not to say that we do not believernin compromise or that we have not trimmed our sails orrndamped our criticisms of faithful friends and fellow travelers.rnCompromise is a necessary part of statecraft, but the statesman,rnas opposed to the politician, has a vision of the nation and hasrnhis sights on long-term objectives. Along the way, he must bernfree to tack back and forth as he tries to catch the wind, whichrnmay not always be blowing in his direction. The politician, onrnthe other hand, is in love with compromise as an instrument tornpower. He will make deals with anyone who serves his ultimaternpurpose—of getting and staying elected—and will betray hisrnconstituents and followers with the same alacrity as Republicansrnare displaying in their rush to repudiate the life issue.rnWhen our friends ask us to moderate our criticisms and torncompromise our ideals, they are asking for the politician’srnrather than the statesman’s compromise. But we are merernscribblers and sit in no seats of power. What possible good,rnapart from securing millions in foundation grants, could be accomplishedrnby a policy of compromise? At some point in therninformation and opinion chain, someone has to stand forrnsomething better than the libido dominandi, and since no onernelse seems to be willing to take it on, that task falls to us.rnIf a statesman is willing to embrace some part of our vision.rn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn