Skip to comments.The future of conservatism
Posted on 06/19/2005 9:27:36 AM PDT by Willie Green
A brief and steamy walk on the streets of Pittsburgh with the chairman of the Republican National Committee succinctly affirmed what affliction has stricken many of today's conservatives:
They don't know what conservatism is.
It was on the evening of June 9 that a behind-schedule but very gracious Ken Mehlman and I took a brisk stroll from one political fundraiser to another. "What's the future of conservatism?" I asked.
(Excerpt) Read more at pittsburghlive.com ...
I know there are naysayers here:
think how bleak the future looked in Nov 1992.
Can somebody post the salient points of this possibly interesting or useful article if we can't post the article in its entirety?
With all due respect to Ken Mehlman, conservatism in its current form is a pale imitation of what it once was, if conservatism at all. And if today's Republicans truly want to make their mark in service to our founding precepts, they'll reject liberalism-lite and return to the Goldwater standard.
This paper isn't on the excerpt only list insofar as I can tell.
What happened is that the liberals redefined the term conservative and the usual statist RINO republicans happily bought into it. The liberals moved "conservative" from the right to the middle so that anybody who would fit the term conservative in 1970 is now a an "extremist." Suckaaahs....
Ah, Goldwater. A very personable man, not at all as portrayed by his opponents. The political pendulum had reached its maximum leftward velocity when he ran for President. His debates on the Senate floor with Dirksen were classic, and classy.
Yes it is.
Conservatism is "a vision of the nation and the world as it should be, not a compromise with the world as it is."
I agree with this point, but would say it differently. I think conservatism, today, should be a vision of the Nation as it was , and through hard work, God willing, will be again.
"My opinion:Author is hoping the conservatives get as rabid as the liberals are now so the libs will stop looking like such drooling morons."
You're probably right about that. But it wouldn't hurt for conservatives to get back to our small government roots. If people lose faith in conservatives to have a better performance on the economy we'll be in trouble... we can't win ONLY on social issues.
Perhaps I'm blind.
"And if today's Republicans truly want to make their mark in service to our founding precepts, they'll reject liberalism-lite and return to the Goldwater standard."
I think he's missing a major point here. Conservatism today isn't necessarily more "liberal" than Goldwater conservatism. Goldwater conservatism had a somewhat more libertarian bent, whereas today social conservatism plays a bigger role in the movement. What really scares me is that we seem to have lost all concept of "shrinking government". We have a Republican House, Senate, and Presidency for the first time in over 50 years and govt. spending is still rising. If we can't cut down govt. now, I don't know when we'll have a chance.
Good post. There are many newbie conservatives, apparently unfamiliar with the guiding principals of the philosophy in the Freep and elsewhere.
That CAFTA thread disheartened me the other night.
There was a 'golden' time. Maybe more than once. My grandparents told me that 1895 was one such 'golden age.' Maybe there was another in 1953. But, you know, and there is no doubt, that the 'golden' periods were not golden to all. It might be that right now is another 'golden' time. 1776 was 'golden', but by 1787 that was coming apart. It takes work to make this idea real, apparently constant work, it is the kind of work that just won't stay done.
It's listed as tribune-review.com, easy to miss if you're looking for Pittsburgh.
An excellent read. Thank you for sharing.
Yet the excerpted link was to Pittsburglive.com
I know the pay is not good, but it would be helpful to those who want to comply with forum rules if the mods would take some time to rearrange the do not post list. Part of it is geographical, and part is alphabetical.
Those two features should be combined.
Make me a mod, and I'll do it.
Exactly, I wasn't necessarily harkening back to any particular era, just the idea of what America used to be. Then the 1960s happened and young people decided they didn't want to work as hard as their parents and grand-parents did. Now we have the America of today.
It's a fight that doesnt end, just when you think you've won it, apathy creeps in and cracks start to appear.
as Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner put it in a recently updated foreword to "The Conscience of a Conservative," the classic 1960 treatise of Barry Goldwater (ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell):
Conservatism is "a vision of the nation and the world as it should be, not a compromise with the world as it" is.
Yet, and save for defense, that's exactly what conservatism largely has become in the early 21st century. Conservatives haven't led, they've acquiesced. Witness the deal-cutting on filibusters. Witness how they lost control of John Bolton's nomination to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Social Security reform? Oh, there's been lots of talk. But there won't be a vote this year. One has to wonder if conservatives ever can bring it to a vote. Chances are if they do, in this climate, it will be an expensive joke. Conservatives haven't enforced the rule of law to crack down on illegal aliens, they've aided and abetted illegals by proposing amnesty. Conservatives haven't defended free speech, they've restricted it through campaign finance "reform." The Internet appears to be next on the hit-list. Conservatives haven't shrunk the size of the federal government and spending, they've enlarged it and increased it.
This is conservatism
GREAT sentence. And as before the Conserv Repubs are going to have to stop the filthy slavery of illegal aliens.
"There are many newbie conservatives, apparently unfamiliar with the guiding principals of the philosophy in the Freep and elsewhere."
So I've noted. Some might remember that I have, from time to time, sought to educate Freepers on what it means to be a conservative.
""When all is said and done the author is claiming that todays conservatism is a shell of what it once was (Goldwater days).""
you mean when it lost an election 60-40 and carried 5 states? Goldwater got fewer electoral votes than Wallace did 4 years later.
"He says conservatives should give up their "lite" version and return to the Goldwater brand.""
I recall Goldwater voted AGAINST the 1964 tax cut. He also ended his career as a rabid pro-choicer
Some facts on spending.
Bush did indeed increase spending at a very alarming rate in his first term.
So far in his second his proposed spending is less tha nthe forecast rate of inflation. This includes the military
But Goldwater lost, and by a landslide. What changed people's minds was the great failures of government in the 1960s and 1970s. Now we've come around full circle to the attitude of the late fifties or early sixties. There's less popular discontent and desire to reduce the size of government. People are mostly satisfied with the country and put up with a lot in the name of patriotism and security.
There's plenty of public revulsion now with social and cultural liberalism, but it's low level. It's based in the memory of what came earlier, and the remnants of 60s attitudes. In an uncertain world cultural conservatism doesn't quite translate into a desire for "less state and more freedom."
What made the Reagan-era sentiment so strong is that people had believed in government and been disappointed, so they looked to real change to set things right. Some of the Reagan-era attitudes carry over into the present, but there's not that force of disillusionment to provide the political energy for a change.
Today, conservatism is considered more a part of the status quo. When the next great wave for change comes it may take us in another direction. It's to be hoped that that won't be the case, but I don't see Bush or his successor getting the kind of momentum for real change that FDR or LBJ or RWR benefitted from.
"'Conservatives haven't led, they've acquiesced. Witness the deal-cutting on filibusters""
hmmm.. i didnt know conservative deal the filibuster deal.
""Conservatives haven't defended free speech, they've restricted it through campaign finance "reform""
most conservative rightly oppossed it.
""Conservatives haven't enforced the rule of law to crack down on illegal aliens, they've aided and abetted illegals by proposing amnesty.""
again most House conservative oppose it.
The author is confused by what he sees as conservative caving with the fact that there arent enough conservatives in congress. Conservatives did none of what he accuses them of doing unless McCain, Collins, Snowe are conservatives.
I agree with your post.
I dont however think the public is a pro-govt as it was in the early 1960s, but not as anti as it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s
True enough, and I'd have to agree with you. It would take a lot of forgetting for people to be as much in favor of more government programs as they were forty years ago. What I guess I meant was more that the idea of a "revolution" against big government is less popular now than it was in the Reagan or Gingrich years.
I don't think the war is a social issue, do you?
In a global marketplace, that works on multiple levels.
To this end players in market driven systems want uniform international standards, and they want the interests of international economic players to dominate over national interests, for example to overrule sovereign governments that attempt to represent the best interests of their own citizenry. Thats just the way "free markets" work.
And IMO this contradition is at the heart of the struggle from the soul of the modern conservative movement.
I agree. I was merely giving my interpretation of what the author said.
Whether George Bush was motivated to go down this path out of a realistic understanding of modern American electoral realities or by personal conviction, I cannot say. But I can say with conviction that this part of his legacy has already been written.
""Indeed, with the passage of the education bill and the prescription drug act, conservatives will now compete with liberals for fresh entitlements.""
This is an untrue statement. Conservatives arent the beneficiaries of the welfare state as liberals are. Thus there is no reason to think they will be competeting for resources from the federal govt. If they do they will no longer be conservatives but will become liberals.
Think back to 1990-92. GHW Bush raised taxes and increased spedning faster than any PResident since LBJ (sound familiar)and Clinton won. How dark was it for conservatives then? All that is needed some one to come along and rearticulate conservatism. Conservatism is far from dead.
The problem conservatism is facing is its own success. People foreget federal spending in the 1970s was rising at an annual 10-12% rate. This year it will rise less than inflation. Federal spending as a % of GDP is still lower now than it was in 1992, though higher than in the late 1990s. But from the 1960s through 1980 the FED govts share of GDP rose every year. Since 1980 it has fluctuated between 20-22%.
You are mistaken. 'Free enterprise' does not equal 'consumerism,' much less mercantilism.
To this end players in market driven systems want uniform national standards, and they want the interests of national economic players to dominate over community values, for example to overrule homeowners associations that attempt to ban unsightly DirecTV dishes, or municipalities that want to ban cell-phone towers, or local bodies that want to regualte the content they can carry. Thats just the way "free markets" work.
That isn't at all the way "free" markets work. That is the way mercantilist markets run by robber barons and their pet whore politicians work.
"Uniform national standards" cannot be imposed in a free market. They can only be imposed under the "government assisted" market.
The interests of national economic "players" only "dominate" through bribery and corruption of the political class. To use your own examples, a homeowners association is a sovereign local association entered into by property owners, and agreed to by anyone who wants to buy into that property. They can only be overruled if the whining billionaires at the multinational corporations go crying to the government to destroy the authority of the local association by force.
And IMO this contradition is at the heart of the struggle from the soul of the modern conservative movement.
True. But the struggle is not based upon a "contradiction," it is based upon a lie. The lie that government is supposed to be "pro-business" rather than simply do justice. Thou shalt not do that which is unjust, nor judge unjustly. Respect not the person of the poor, nor honour the countenance of the mighty. But judge thy neighbour according to justice (Leviticus 19:15)
Long live Christ the King!
This is an untrue statement.
It was a
1. Opposition to admission of Red China to the U.N.
2. Opposition to giving away the Panama canal.
3. Return to the gold standard.
4. Support for the death penalty, and
5. Opposition to forced busing.
I believe now as I posted a long time ago, George Bush must be understood first in terms of his conversion experience. He is truly a believing Christian and judges political activity from that perspective, not the other way around. I think this is where his "compassion" finds its source and energy. But when that compassion moves his Christian heart, he does not stay his hand because his remedy conflicts with earthly conservative values. If those values can be accommodated fine, if not, too bad.
Next, Bush is a family man, vertically as well as horizontally. He honors his father and mother and cherishes his wife. He sees the world from this safe haven.
He is committed to loyalty, up and down. He gives it and expects it. This makes him shrink from pulling the trigger on liabilities like the director of the CIA. More, there is a certain noblesse oblige character to this which makes him susceptible to other members of the exclusive club, read, Clinton. All of these noble commitments leave little scope for party or for partianship. So he does not comprehend the damage he does to the party and to the nation's legacy when he undermines the heartfelt objection of his party's faithful to the crimes and peccadillo's of Clinton by embracing him and his wife. Bush judges his own actions in publicly embracing Clinton according to Christian doctrines of forgiveness.
So it is with his whole approach to governance.
" I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."- Barry M. Goldwater
"The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government."- Barry M. Goldwater
"Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism"- Barry M. Goldwater
I guess that's the important thing anyway, how liberals look? /s
I agree with this point, but would say it differently.
I disagree. I see conservatism as an acceptance of our limitations and an acknoslwedgment that the insitutions and values evolved over many generations will normally be superior to those that are designed for us by people professing some great insight into humanity.
I don't agree. I think conservatism is about looking at the world as it actually is, and not as we wish it were. It's about realism, not idealism, something which goes back to Edmund Burke's warnings about the overreliance on abstract thought in politics, and Kirk's assertion that conservatism is fundamentally anti-ideology.
I think he's saying conservatives today are more prone to use big government to enact policies than before and so are competing with liberals to get programs passed instead of trying to reduce government. These programs might be based on conservative principles, but it's still bit government.
Those who are professing insight into humanity and designing values for Americans today are liberals and the intelligentsia who are practicing cultural Marxism. I don't find these "values" to be superior to the ones my parents and grandparents were taught. True values do not evolve, they are constant and stand up to time.
"There are those who believe that a new modernity demands a new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality. All else is immorality." --Theodore Roosevelt
By your own quote you contradict Kirk from the article. The root of conservatism is conserve, save, maintain. To maintain a particular lifestyle. In these changing times where liberalism is turning the Nation a direction people don't want to go, it is natural to fight that change, to fight for a way of life. That isn't idealism, it's action. ...from the article...
Indeed it was Mr. Kirk, the great 20th century American essayist and chronicler of conservatism, who offered the "genius of conservatism" axiom. "Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke" (the 18th century Irish statesman and philosopher) "a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the times." Or as Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner put it in a recently updated foreword to "The Conscience of a Conservative," the classic 1960 treatise of Barry Goldwater (ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell): Conservatism is "a vision of the nation and the world as it should be, not a compromise with the world as it" is.
That's a BIG "if".