For the past 40 years, the Republican Party has been moving further and further to the Right. Today, the Republican Party has gone too far to the Right, absorbing racist and anti-immigrant influences from the white nationalist elements of the extreme Right that more moderate and sane conservative Republicans would’ve opposed decades ago. Since the Newt Gingrich speakership in the mid 1990s, though, most of those moderate and sane conservatives have been expunged from the GOP. The remaining traditional conservatives within the GOP have been fighting for a conservative movement without those white nationalist influences.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, conservative William F. Buckley tried to use his influential conservative magazine The National Review to protect the conservative movement from the extreme racist and xenophobic elements of the Right.
In the 1960s, Buckley clashed with the John Birch Society, a far Right group. Buckley felt that the conspiracy theories that the John Birch Society promoted would be a dangerous influence on the conservative movement.
In 1968, Buckley opposed the Presidential candidacy of George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama. Wallace was trying to appeal to conservative blue collar white voters with his appeals to white nationalism and his talk of states rights. Buckley tried to show that Wallace wasn’t a conservative, that Wallace wanted government social programs so long as they helped only white people and excluded blacks and other minorities.
In the 1990s, William F. Buckley opposed the Republican primary run of Pat Buchanan. Buckley opposed Buchanan’s appeals to racism and antisemitism.
Though I don’t agree with William F. Buckley’s conservative views, I respect him for his willingness to engage with people of differing views while simultaneously opposing the more racist and xenophobic views of the extreme Right.
Here is a January 24, 1968 Crossfire interview between William F. Buckley and Presidential candidate George Wallace.