In February 2000, Republican presidential candidate John McCain told “Face the Nation” that he considered the Confederate Battle Flag to be “offensive” and a “symbols of racism and slavery.” Candidate George W. Bush remarked that while he considered the display of the flag to be a state issue, he refused to allow Confederate symbolism at the Texas statehouse and had several plaques commemorating the War removed from the Texas Supreme Court building.

At the time, many Republicans in South Carolina were steadfast in their determination to keep the flag flying atop the capital in Columbia. It was raised in 1962 to honor the Civil War centennial and was never removed. For nearly two decades, Democrats made removing the flag from the dome a priority only to be blocked by the will of South Carolina voters and the Republican led State House of Representatives. Republican Governor David Besasley proposed moving the flag in 1996 and suffered a crushing defeat in the 1998 gubernatorial election due in large part to the issue as the Sons of Confederate Veterans mobilized against him. Yet, after 46,000 people marched to the Statehouse in January 2000 to protest the flag, Republicans capitulated and eventually moved the flag from the Statehouse dome to the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument on the Statehouse grounds. They pitched the “compromise” as a permanent measure and promised never to lower the flag.

But the issue did not die, and by 2015, when Dylan Roof murdered several black churchgoers in Charleston, many Republicans had already decided that the flag and perhaps other Confederate symbolism had to go. Removing the flag was already a fait accompli when images with Roof posing with a Confederate flag surfaced and Republican Governor Nimarata Haley tearfully argued that the flag had to be lowered. Republicans took it down.

That same year, Republican “conservative” talk show host Dennis Prager’s “Prager U” commissioned unknown West Point Professor Ty Seidule to produce a short video on the War that blamed the entire event on slavery. Seidule later remarked that he could not understand why a conservative group wanted him to make that video. His record on social issues was clear. Seidule had gone woke long before 2015 as evidenced by his publications for the United States Army.

But to Republicans, West Point and the United States military mean “conservative,” as do corporations and big business. The Republican love affair with Abraham Lincoln contributes to the problem. When Harry Jaffa insisted that equality was conservative in the 1950s—and then doubled down in 2000—he codified Republican acceptance of the “proposition nation myth.” This eventually formed the backbone of Republican Party dogma on the War and produced the narrative that John McCain, George W. Bush, David Beasley, and Nimarata Haley parroted for the last thirty years.

“Conservative” think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Claremont Institute, and their affiliated scholars provided enough fuel to keep the anti-Confederate fires burning. For nearly two decades, Victor Davis Hanson has attempted to attach the modern left to the Confederacy. Scholars like Michael Anton and Larry Arnn have described statesmen John C. Calhoun as the American Hitler. Republican strategist Karl Rove has openly called Confederate soldiers “the enemy” while talk show hosts like Mark Levin consistently attempt to slander the Democrats as the party of Jefferson Davis. He often shouts they murdered Lincoln and opposed Reconstruction!

Thus, it made sense when Republicans failed to support Donald Trump’s veto of the bill that created the Naming Commission in 2021. Ty Seidule eventually helped chair that group. Republicans like Mike Rogers of Alabama, the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, chose funneling money into his district over blocking the woke destruction of American history. Rogers, along with forty other Republicans, later offered a weak-kneed opposition to the removal of the Arlington Confederate Monument only after its demise was guaranteed. Eight of the forty Republicans who signed a stern letter of disagreement to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin voted to over-ride Trump’s veto, including Rogers.

It wasn’t long ago that conservatives could admire John C. Calhoun and Robert E. Lee. Russell Kirk thought Calhoun was, in many ways, a quintessential American conservative. Much has changed. In the end, American conservatives have no one to blame but themselves for the continued woke lurch of America. They support and champion people like Hanson and Larry Arnn, gobble up books my Mark Levin, and more importantly keep voting Republican while expecting a different outcome. That is the very definition of insanity.  When “conservatives” sound like a moderate form of the left on American history, the game is over. R.L. Dabney predicted as much in 1871 when he wrote:

Northern conservatism…is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader.”

Until conservatives stop venerating Abraham Lincoln and the 1860s Republicans while voting for Republicans like Nimarata Haley and Mike Rogers, nothing will change.

The views expressed at the Abbeville Institute blog do not necessarily represent the views of the Abbeville Institute.

Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of six books, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America (Regnery History, 2017), 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America and Four Who Tried to Save Her (Regnery History, 2016), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, (Regnery, 2012). He received a B.A. in History from Salisbury University in 1997 and an M.A. in History from the University of South Carolina in 1999. He finished his Ph.D. in History at the University of South Carolina in 2006, and had the privilege of being Clyde Wilson’s last doctoral student. He lives in Alabama with his wife and three daughters.


  • Joe Johnson says:

    I still can’t get over people at Chronicles Magazine glorifying the puritan voyage to america, denoucing the south for slavery and absurdly comparing the deep state treatment of deplorables to slave masters treatment of slaves.

  • Earl Starbuck says:

    Dennis Prager platformed Ty Seidule because Prager is leftist-lite. There’s no other reasonable explanation. If you get Lincoln wrong, you get everything else wrong – federal power, the nature of the Union, judicial review, the incorporation doctrine. There is *no* American conservatism without the Southern tradition. The Left still hate and fear Dixie – why do you think they’re making such hay over Nikki Haley’s initial remarks over the causes of the War? They’re absolutely terrified that people will look at the South objectively and realize that statesmen like Calhoun and Davis were pointing out the Emperor’s nakedness long, long ago.

    • Bill Starnes says:

      Mr. Starbuck, I agree with you. I was first able to vote in 1970. I did not feel like the democrats represented me, nor did the republicans. I registered as an Independent. I have voted for very few exceptional democrats since that time. I have held my nose many, many times to vote for a republican as the lesser of two evils. Folks who do not know our true history are our biggest detractors.

  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    “American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader.”
    It is like the child who is told never to NEVER accept candy from a stranger. But like Eve, the temptation is overwhelming for personal “gain.”

  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    should say simply “to Never”

  • Billy P says:

    And its why I and many others are not represented as a proud southerner, a conservative Christian, in US politics. Republicans have abandoned us to worship their false god, Lincoln; they still rely on our votes, and they never fail to capitulate and lose. Why bother. The few in Washington DC who are fighting the good fight are just that, few in number and without power to change things.
    Trump is popular because he has traits of the forgotten conservative, and both parties hate him. That I can relate with, and it is good enough to get my vote.
    And, he’s the only one I have heard speak up in defense of General Lee or our statues.

  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    Republicans who are “of the party” are the worst kind of liars. The first time I ever voted for president was in 1964 for Goldwater. I have never regretted it nor subsequent votes for Reagan or Trump. But the general timbre and character of those Republican party members is deception for self-interest alone. Their dishonest cries that the Democrats are the party of slavery is merely deception (and untruthful—there was NOT a party of slavery) in order to corral black votes. They are simply cousins of the Democratic party—both will say anything, do anything to build their god—a national state.
    The archetypal for party lovers is Karl Rove or James Carville.

  • Page Ciesemier says:

    Here here!

  • Sam McGowan says:

    Excellent article! Republicans (and I will vote Republican but NOT Democratic), need to admit that the party was founded by Communists. Socialists and abolitionists, who thought they were a higher power than the Constitution. Modern Democrats are the Radical Republicans of the 1860s-70s. Republicans are mostly confused.

    • Lee Vail AKA Kalev Efrayim says:

      The entire country is corrupt. Republicans aren’t much better that the Democrats, all of them are big government tyrants.

  • Lee Vail AKA Kalev Efrayim says:

    I no longer consent to be governed by a criminal and corrupt United States government.
    It is NOT the government our founders left us with and has not been since 1826.

  • Wesley D King says:

    It seems almost overwhelming the amount of coordinated misleading and misdirecting (aka lying) in order to maintain this false narrative! One of the best tools the Progressive Socialists have made use of, in my opinion, is defining things. The best we can hope for is a grassroots effort to reach our people with truths that will never be espoused otherwise; the Union (headed by Lincoln) was Progressive Liberals (picture Obama) and the CSA (headed by Davis) was Conservatives (more like Regan or Trump, but so much more so). There’s a reason the likes of a McCain, Hailey, Bush, and Prager University idolize the same U.S. President as the Clintons and Obama. And the more our ethnic group (Southerners) learns this, the better. Alas, Deo Vindice!

    • James Persons says:

      In my experience the reality of who the GOP, Dems, media and ‘historians’ is spreading greatly and has made real growth in the last ten years. That includes young Southerners who are Millennials and Zoomers. Y’all should hear what my three Millennials say!! There friends are of like mind. All I did was plant a very few truth seeds and they have become UN-Reconstructed all on their own. One of them was pretty hard left at one point also. Now he’s ‘Down for the struggle’ against The Man.

  • Nicki Cribb says:

    Victor Davis Hansen has never been a conservative or even a passable RINO.
    Abraham Lincoln was a racist tyrant who did not give a damn about Blacks or slavery but did not want to lose the tariffs of Charleston, Wilmington, Norfolk, Savannah, Jacksonville, Mobile, Gulfport, Baton Rouge, Houston or Galveston, or the huge tariffs on cotton and rice, which paid 80% of the federal government’s bills, and kept the northern states afloat, that and their trafficking in slaves
    John C. Calhoun was one of the greatest statesmen in the history of the These USofA, as were many South Carolinians Lincoln’s invasion of our sovereign CSA.

    • James Persons says:

      VDH, and a few others, are pathologically obsessed about the South and the Confederacy. He continually complains about the South using inaccurate, misleading history, and sometimes just plain old info that is not at all factually correct, but he just keeps on spewing bovine excrement. It’s why I personally have concluded he has a mental disorder of some sort. Maybe also, since he used to be a Dem before he converted to a Neo-Con of sorts, he’s over compensating. He trashes the South and yet HIS California which his white ancestors settled has a truly horrible record on racism, segregation, lynchings, eugenics, land grabbing and labor exploitation. Hence he’s always yelling, ‘Look CONFEDERATES’. The guy is a bum … and corrupt IMHO.

  • Nicki Cribb says:

    Should read “Before Lincoln’s Invasin of our sovereign CSA.

  • David LeBeau says:

    “The Southerner must know, and in fact he does very well know, that his antique conservatism does not exert a great influence against the American progressivist doctrine.” John Crowe Ransom 1930

    Republicans and Fox News pundits who go around calling themselves “conservative” are of the “Neo” kind. I don’t think the paleo-conservatives exists in politics today. If he/she does, then it’s at the local or state level. You can find some paleo-conservatives and classical-liberals if you invest your time in such institutes as the Abbeville Institute, Reckonin’, The Imaginative Conservative, Lew Rockwell, and McClanahan Academy to name a few.

    If only the unsuccessful attempt at winning the Executive Office in 1948 would have remained in Congress to form a southern conservative bloc. Those “States-Righters” shouldn’t have thrown in the towel so quickly. Can you imagine a Third-Party that is capable of blocking legislation? What a hoot that would be.

  • David A Williams says:

    Excellent article. I shutter when local Republican committees here in Texas host Lincoln Day fundraisers. I even refuse to carry 5 Dollar bills. I was Commander of my local SCV Camp and had Mel Bradford as Camp Historian. Deo Vindice.

  • Beth Elliott says:

    I believe Nimarata Haley’s first name is spelled as it’s pronounced: Nimrod.

  • Chris McLarren says:

    Nikki Haley’s immediate response to the question of the cause of the ‘Civil War’ reflects her Southern upbringing -that it was about constitutional, economic and political issues and not about slavery. Of course the media immediately lambasted her, since everybody ‘knows’ that the war was primarily about slavery. She started out well, but she wants to be President of the United States and she caved the next day – of course the war was about slavery. All, yes. Politicians.

    • Gordon says:

      The day – or evening – is coming when the War in 1861 becomes part of the political campaign 0f 2024. It may be during the Republican primaries when the Distinguished Journalist asks the candidate, during the exclusive interview, “Was the Civil War about SLAVERY?” It will certainly happen during the one Presidential Debate when the Non-Partisan Distinguished Journalist asks Donald Trump, “Will you condemn White Supremacists and other of your followers who insist the Confederacy did not attack the United States to protect SLAVERY?”

      The primary candidate will surely answer, YES!! Donald Trump, of Queens, New York has never denigrated the South before and he probably won’t this time, either.

      …. but if it happens, I’m done. I don’t care how critical the election is, I’m not voting for anyone that assigns the reason for all evil to my family.

      • James Persons says:

        IF, a big if IMO, Trump ‘debates’ and gets asked that question he could simply say something like the following: ‘The war happened, the slaves were freed and it’s way past the time now, 150 years later, for everyone to stop obsessing about the past and just move on. That is what I will do in my next administration.’

        I think 90% of Americans are not interested in who or what caused the ‘Civil War’. They ARE interested in inflation, the border, Globalism running every part of our lives and so on. Also, if I were Trump and this came up I would make a point of saying that the people obsessed about the war are actually just concerned about losing their power to run the lives of Americans and are using the war to trick people into voting for the Dems/RINOs.

        • Paul Yarbrough says:

          “…the people obsessed about the war are actually just concerned about losing their power to run the lives of Americans and are using the war to trick people into voting for the Dems/RINO.”
          I believe this is exactly why Mrs. Haley made her comment.

          • James Persons says:

            Good point, Paul. I think you are on to something. I hadn’t thought her statement through, but now that you point that out, I can see very well how that could be what she was trying to do.

            Thanks for your insight and reply! Have a great day.

  • Jimmy Davis Jacobson says:

    This article is spot on in my opinion. As long as these so called conservatives keep venerating old dishonest abe, the “Conservative” party is also a threat to freedom, truth, and the Republic. Lets take this a little farther. While some of there work is admirable, Branon House, Steave Bannon, and others all pay homage to Abrahan Lincoln.
    Good Job Brion
    Jimmy D. Jacobson

  • Michael Martin says:

    My estimating of Calhoun as a conservative plummeted once I realized how instrumental he was in the bank war against Jackson.

  • Albert Alioto says:

    Referring to Haley as “Nimarata,” as McClanahan does three times, is blatantly racist. The only possible purpose for doing so is try to create the impression that she’s not really an American. McClanahan may believe that a movement that can’t get the votes of a single American who has a name that doesn’t sound American is a great idea. The Left will love him for it.

    • Gordon says:

      Actually, I agree with you. I doubt McClanahan is racist in comparison with almost every writer and activist on the Left. I, personally, acknowledge racial awareness, a manifestation impossible to avoid in face of the hate we continually face. I’ll even confess to reciprocal hate although I recognize it without letting it hurt me. In this case, though, McClanahan is capable of conveying his message without leaving himself open to accusations and loss of any authority. This isn’t Breitbart, we know what he means.

      I didn’t know Haley’s given name until recently but have known I’d never vote for her since 2015.

      • Albert Alioto says:

        I have absolutely no doubt about what McClanahan means in this instance, and if we disagree, we disagree.

        • Gordon says:

          I apologize. There was agreement, I thought, that the use of Nikki Haley’s given name was a needless and somewhat unforced error by Mr. McClanahan. I consider the body of the article both a comprehensive retrospective and an urgent warning, while hardly distinguishing Haley from John McCain and GW Bush.

          • Albert Alioto says:

            Please don’t ever apologize. I assume every part of the discussion is in good faith.

            But one might ask me, am I giving McClanahan credit for good faith? It is a really good question. I think in the end I would come down to the idea that McClanahan should know how constantly calling her Nimarata would sound to people who have similar not-quite-American sounding names and how off-putting that would be. Which. as I said originally, seems to me to only help the Left.

            Thanks always.

    • David LeBeau says:

      In the words of John McEnroe, “you can’t be serious?” Identifying someone by their given first name is fairly common in my world.

      • Albert Alioto* says:

        Identifying someone as they prefer to be identified is much more common in any world in which common courtesy exists.

      • Albert Alioto says:

        Identifying someone as they would prefer to be identified is more common in a world in which common courtesy exists.

    • Zwolle says:

      I am asking this in true honesty. How is McClanahan being ‘blatantly racist’ by pointing out that Nimarata’s given name is Nimarata, even if the purpose is to point out that ‘Nikki’ Haley is not a native born US citizen?

  • Barbara says:

    I recommend that you read The Great Taking by David Webb, it’s free, or watch the video here

    At least start watching at about the 30 minute mark and you can see what is being done to us and who is doing it. They have been able to get every state legislature to pass laws to support what they are doing. So this information reveals everything about the government and who is actually controlling not only this country but the entire world. Democrats and republicans are all the same.

    Both parties are controlled by the same international elites. The best thing we can do is forget about voting in any federal election and start lobbying our state legislators to prevent what the international cabal of bankers have planned for us. The problem is that most legislators as well as “the people” do not understand banking and markets. That’s the problem. That’s how they are able to do these things to us.

    The satellites that Elon Musk put into orbit supposedly for internet probably facilitated the burning alive of almost 2000 children in the Hawaii fires. Just imagine that any man could push the button and do such a thing. That is who we are ruled by and who is in control of the world. New technology is amazing and has the potential to be beneficial but unfortunately is in the hands of the most evil people God ever let live. Forget about political parties. Nobody gets elected to anything if they refuse to sell out.

    I love the south as much as anyone. But it’s probably a fact that only people who love the south even care about its history or any history. We’re in a bigger fight now. Don’t vote for more of this, don’t encourage them.

  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    Wow. Look at all the responses…

    The internet is out of THEIR control…THEY have lost the ability to control the NARRATIVE…control of the narrative is all that matters.

    I am proud of all of you here, who are not afraid of entering information into the belly of the beast…yes…you and your comments are being recorded…but when you speak truth, you affect the programming of those who see your words.

    Of course, the war was about slavery BUT slavery was not an evil…if you could just get this truth through your heads, all would make sense to you.

    If slavery had been as described there would have been SLAVE REVOLTS DURING THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES…but…THERE WERE NONE.

    But, if you still believe slavery was an evil instead of a world-wide economic system, still in practice today in places such as AFRICA…

    Ask yourself…WHY DO THE YANKEES INSIST ON CALLING IT THE “AMERICAN CIVIL WAR” if the war was over slavery?


    Their lies are being exposed continuously…you cannot lose this fight…in fact, YOU HAVE ALREADY WON.

  • Baron says:

    People that say the parties switched and people that say they didn’t are both half wrong. The Republicans never changed from what they were (American-hating terrorists), but the Democrat party got really bad over time. To be pro-America(n) and be in the Republican party is to be a RINO.

    Conservatives and libertarians are awful. There’s a reason fascism is on the rise in the West; government has to police evil and help its people. All of the modern mainstream political beliefs have been a slippery slope that results in evil and destruction. Most conservatives have never read the Bill of Rights. And libertarians enable evil.

    Prager is a subversive J**, and his organization has ties to Israel (as does Ben Shapiro). They had a video called “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party” where they decided to leave out critical information to hide the republican party’s evil.

    Trump was the first president I voted for, and after I vote for Trump in 2024, there’s no reason for me to vote R ever again (never voted D in my life).
    America is done, and as long as the federal government exists, there is no fixing this.

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