The great problem for conservatives is that they lack the moral glibness to compete with liberalism’s “innocence.” But today there are signs of what I have called race fatigue. People are becoming openly cynical toward the left’s moral muscling with racism. Add to this liberalism’s monumental failure to come even close to realizing any of its beautiful idealisms, and the makings of a new conservative mandate become clearer. As idealism was the left’s political edge, shouldn’t realism now be the right’s? Reality as the informing vision—and no more wrestling with innocence.
Mr. Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is author of “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country” (Basic Books, 2015).