E. J. Dionne sees conservatism reverting back to its old anti-government, extremism, and conspiracy theory days while abandoning its more recent Christian versions:
Barack Obama’s campaign promise of change did not include a pledge to transform American conservatism. But one of his presidency’s major legacies may be a revolution on the American right in which older, more secular forms of politics displace religious activism.
The reaction to Obama has also radicalized parts of the conservative movement, giving life to conspiracy theories long buried and strains of thinking similar to those espoused by the John Birch Society and other right-wing groups in the 1950s and ’60s. . . .
What’s remarkable is the extent to which the Tea Party movement has displaced the religious right as the dominant voice of conservative militancy. The religious conservatives have not disappeared, and Sarah Palin, a Tea Party hero, does share their views on abortion and gay marriage. But these issues have been overshadowed by the broader anti-government themes pushed by the New Old Right, and the “compassionate conservatism” that inspires parts of the Christian political movement has no place in the right’s current order of battle.
Thus has Obama brought back to life a venerable if disturbing style of conservative thinking. In the short run, the new movement’s energy threatens him. In the long run, its extremism may be his salvation.
I appreciate a prominent liberal commentator not lumping Christian activists in with all the others and not demonizing the Christians for a change. But do you think his analysis holds up?