The nature of the hold movement conservatism has on the Republican party may be summed up very simply: Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy. That is, there is an interlocking set of institutions ultimately answering to a small group of people that collectively reward loyalists and punish dissenters. These institutions provide obedient politicians with the resources to win elections, safe havens in the event of defeat, and lucrative career opportunities after they leave office. They guarantee favorable news coverage to politicians who follow the party line, while harassing and undermining opposition. And they support a large standing army of party intellectuals and activists...This is what must be foremost in the minds of liberals whenever faced with a political choice. The right considers you an enemy that it is justified in exterminating. It does not want compromise, it will not honor any promises it makes, and it is dedicated to furthering its own agenda, period.
One last point; The institutions of movement conservatism ensure a continuity of goals that has no counterpart on the other side... In a now-famous 1983 article, analysts from the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation called for a "Leninist strategy" of undermining support for Social Security, to "prepare the political ground so that the fiasco of the last 18 months is not repeated." That strategy underlay George W. Bush's attempt to privatize the system -- and until or unless movement conservatism is defeated as thoroughly as pre-new deal conservatism was, there will be more attempts in the future.