er remarks to the Post, Mr. Kristol repeatedrnthe same sentiment—”The ortliodoxrnconservatie movement has collapsed,”rnhe told Mr. Edsall, and “if there is to be arnconsenati’e fntnre, which I for one hopernthere is, it’s not going to be shaped by thernold conservative movement.” Let usrnleave aside for the nonce the subject ofrnwhat kind of “conservative future” Mr.rnKristol hopes for as well as the ver}’ interestingrnmatter of the crucial role he andrnhis fellov’ neoconservatives played inrncausing the collapse of a coherent, intellectualKrnsophisticated, and polihcally seriousrnconseratism, and dwell instead onrnthe larger point that the “movement” isrnindeed defunct.rnYet the dismal performance of “movementrnconscn’atives” in the primaries thisrnear was b’ no means the first time theyrnhad flopped, hi 1996, the campaign ofrn”movement” favorite Phil Gramm collapsedrnbefore it even arrived in NewrnHampshire, while other “movement”rnstallions—Jack Kemp, Bill Bennett, NewtrnGingrich, Stee Forbes, Pat Robertson—rneither never got ont of their stalls or stumbledrnand fell quickK’. Mr. Kemp was momentariK’rnresuscitated for the Dolerncampaign, but he proved to be just asrnmuch of a dud as his critics had alwaysrnpredicted.rnMr. Kristol, then, is entirely correctrnthat the “conservative movement” is nornlonger, if it ever was, a serious nationalrnpolitical lorce, though he seems to bernwrong about whv it is not. The reason hernoffers for its collapse is the disappearancernof the oting bloc on which it was basedrnand the emergence of the “new politicalrnmajorit}” tiiat he spies trampling downrnthe inexards behind Mr. McGain. Thisrn”new political majorit}'” is not attached torntlie principles of the “movement” andrnwill not support candidates reflectingrnthose principles. Instead, it will drive tiierncampaigns of “reformers” like Mr. McCain,rnwho began charting “a new governingrnagenda” that, as Mr. Kristol andrnhis sidekick f^axid Brooks described it inrnthe Weekly Standard, was far morernfriendK to Big Government and hostilernto religions commitment than the oldrnconserxatism had ever been. In therncomse of their description, it becamernclear that tiiey were merely ascribing tornMr. McCain and to his largely fictitiousrn”new majorit}” what they as neocons desperatcK’rnwanted to see.rnThe major political problem that neoconserxatismrnhas always faced has beenrnits ou n lack of a mass following. Sincernthe late 1970’s, the neocons have proxedrnthemsekes expert in the eourtiy arts of intrigue,rnback-stabbing, and palace politics,rnand once they had attached themselvesrnto Ronald Reagan and, through tiie gullibilit}’rnof “mox’ement eonserx’atixes,” hadrnbeen welcomed within the palace itself,rnthey adx’anced quickly to dominant positionsrnin the foundations, magazines, andrnthink tanks that managed and financedrnConserx’atism, Inc. But it was Reagan orrndie senior George Bush or the Republicansrnwho actually attracted the mass followingrnthat kept the neocon courtiersrnemployed and enjoying at least the semblancernof political povxer. ^’Vs long as tiieyrnremained attached to a successful politicalrnfigure xvho could get elected \ ithoutrnflieir assistance, they remained also at hisrnmercy and were unable to achieve the totalrndominance their passion for poxverrncraved. Noxv, xvifli Mr. McCain gallopingrnon the horizon xvith his supposedrn”nexx’ political majorit}'” behind him andrna “new governing agenda” dangling at hisrnhip that excluded the anti-Big Governmentrnconserxatives, the religious right,rnand the neo-isolationists, it suddenlyrnseemed that the days of dependence x erernnearly ox-er and the hour of the neoconserv’ativernbeast had come round at last.rnThe collapse of the McCain crusaderndashed these dreams. Mr. McCain’srntemporary success in New Hampshirerndid not proxe that there was such a majorit}rnnor that the political right xvas dead,rnthough the lackluster performance of thern”movement” candidates did rexeal theirrnoxvn political irrelevance and that of Hiern”movement” from xvhich thex sprouted.rnMr. Bush’s success, on the other hand,rnbased as it was on his appeal to the right,rnshows that—at least at the grassroots levelrnxxhcre voters really vote and never a neoconrntrod—the right remains very nuichrnalive. To say the “conservative movement”rnis dead, defunct, and politically irrelexant,rnon the one hand, and that thernpolitical right at the unorganized, grassrootsrnlexel remains alive, strong, and ex’enrnessential for political victorv’, on the other,rnis not contradictor}’. On the contrarx’,rnmovement conservatism failed to becomerna serious political force not becausernit missed the boat captained bx’ anyrn”nexv majority” or “nexv coalition” butrnbecause it failed to recognize the real politicalrnmajorit}’ that still exists and vx’hichrnMr. Bush manipulated to gain the GOPrnnomination.rnThe real majorit)—it is not literallx’ arnmajorit}’ of the voting population bnt arnlarge block of it—is simply the white,rninainlx’ ethnic, working- and middle-classrnranks of American socieh, and the xvay tornxvin it is not by inxoking the deathlessrnplatitudes and banalities of “movementrnconservatism” or the tendentious “InsidernManhattan” policy-xvonkcrx’ offered byrnthe neoconservatives. The way to xvinrnMiddle Americans is to communicate tornthem that you, as a candidate and a publicrnleader, understand that they and theirrnway of life are under siege, diat the rulingrnclass of the country in alliance with itsrnunderclass is besieging them, and tiiatrn}’ou are xx’illing to allx’ with them againstrntheir enemies. Neoconscrxatives don’trnget this and nexer will, xxhich is whx’ theyrndo not and never will hax e a mass folloxvingrnof any kind. Movement conserxatismrnnever got this either, because it and itsrnspokesmen were more interested in provingrntheir pet points about their x’ariousrnidols than in doing somefliing useful tornprotect and consene the people and culturernof the nation. Joe McCarthv, for allrnhis shortcomings, did get it, as didrnGeorge Wallace. Richard Nixon andrnRonald Reagan also got it, at least to thernextent that they understood how to use itrnto get themselx’es elected. Young Mr.rnBush, if he did not understand it beforernthe recent primaries, shoidd havernlearned it by noxv, though it xvill not bernsurprising if he failed to do so. Since Reagan,rnno successful political leader on thernright has shown that he understands it,rnand today the entire political class, rightrnas well as left, has schooled itself to miss itrnand to talk about just about anxthing otherrnthan the class and cultural xvar that isrnbeing xx’aged against Middle America.rnThe blunt and brutal truth is that if nornone is xvilling or able to xage x’ar back,rnthen tiie war will be lost, and that may inrnfact be happening. The abandonment ofrnissues relevant to Middle American surx’ivalrnby most political leaders and opinionmakersrnmeans that the war is not beingrnfought and die issues within it are notrnbeing defined adequateU. There is still arnchance in this last election of the centurx’rnthat someone xvill emerge xx’ho is ablernand xvilling to fight the xvar. But if herndoesn’t emerge this year, the best plan forrnMiddle Americans and those xvho sidernxvith them in die future xvill be to look forrnthe egress and run like hell for it. crnM O V I N G ?rnCHRONICLES Subscription Dept.rnP.O. liDx 8(K). MciuiU Morris. W. 6I0.MrnJUNE 2000/3’irnrnrn