Was Martin Luther King, Jr. a conservative?
Social justice conservatives would have you believe so. The same would hold for Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a host of other reformers who would have rejected the term outright during their lifetimes. See Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Paul Gottfried argues that’s the point in a recent essay for Chronicles magazine. American conservatives trip over themselves trying to adopt leftist scraps.
King never held any “conservative” positions outside of some of his views on social issues. That was due in large part to his faith. (It could be argued that King was more Southern than anything).
But this habit of calling the last leftist position “conservative” after the left moves on to another crusade has been going on for over a century. R.L. Dabney pegged the problem during Reconstruction, as Gottfried points out.
They will ultimately cave, which is why I suggested years ago that if you have a choice between a moderate Republican and a hard left Democrat, vote Democrat. The Republican will just disappoint you. The Democrat won’t surprise you.
These social justice conservatives want a political party led by Mitt Romney and Liz Chaney. That’s why Donald Trump scares them, though judging Trump by his actions rather than words I’m not certain why. Trump loved the swamp. It just didn’t love him back.
This new “civil war” in the Republican Party is nothing more than the conflict between the Old right “paleocons” and the “neoconservatives” that came to a head in the 1980s. Trump used Pat Buchanan’s talking points to great effect and the neocons helped in a soft coup to get him out of office.
This is in part due to a conflict over historical interpretation. The neoncons believe in a “proposition nation” dominated by old leftist icons. Real conservatives like John C. Calhoun are persona non grata.
They make the social justice conservatives uncomfortable, but this is the problem. You can’t be the left at their own game, even if you want them to like you.
They are about winning at all costs. Social justice conservatives just want to be invited to play.
As expected, this is a recipe for disaster. See the 2020 election.
It doesn’t get any clearer than Biden/Harris.
They’ll own King and leave the social justice conservatives wondering what happened.
And they’ll be doing it from a position of power.