William Kristol has noted that conservatives may have to be ready to govern sooner than many expected: “A year and a half ago, it seemed that conservatives would have years in the wilderness to lick their wounds and gather their forces. Now, suddenly, conservatism is being called on to be intellectually robust and politically adept.”
We simply can’t count on having principled politicians in the mode of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Typically, presidents of both parties come to the office as politicians, not ideologues. Yet it seems somewhat unsatisfying to say the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives will only abandon their principles if something really big is at stake, whereas liberals don’t believe in the same principles at all.