To combat this, some very intelligent people got together and started working to counteract liberal acadamia with conservative think tanks, and began work on a series of powerful new ideas that would eventually revamp the political scene entirely, culminating in the landslide ascent of Reagan in the 80's.
One of the key components of this new Conservative movement was William F. Buckley and the magazine he founded, the National Review. This was a magazine that cherished conservative thought and rational discourse.
Unfortunately, like much of modern American Conservatism - at least establishment Conservatism - the NR has become intellectually bankrupt, equating education with elitism and rational discourse with treason.
Example given: William Buckley's son, Chris Buckley, wrote an article a few days ago criticizing the modern American Conservative movement for being anything but conservative in its views and actions. The response from the NR was immediate - Chris Buckley is a traitor! How dare anyone criticize the Right!?! He must go!
So, today, the NR accepted Buckley's resignation.
To be fair, Buckley said he's not sorry to go. His own words:
"While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case."
The conservatives are right about one thing - their movement certainly has been betrayed. But it's not people like Buckley that have betrayed it.