Skip to comments.New Age Conservatism
Posted on 11/15/2006 9:07:31 AM PST by S. T. Karnick
In my recent National Review Online article on the Republicans's loss and what it means, I brought up two relatively new notions: one is that today's Democrats are the real conservatives of our time--New Age Conservatives who want to preserve what there is to conserve today in American politics: "a high-taxing, high-spending welfare state; a political system in which incumbents have all the advantages; a flood of illegal immigration; increasing state-level socialism; a public education system that appears deliberately designed to keep people ignorant; the worst, most libertine aspects of the Sexual Revolution; a health-care system that is increasingly under government control; a new Cold War in which Islam and the West remain just short of open war; and so on."
My conclusion is, "The Right lost because the Republicans failed to govern as classical liberals. Instead, in the economic sphere they ran up huge, unnecessary budget deficits attributable solely to massive spending increases. Small government went out the window as the Republicans massively increased federal control over elementary and secondary schools and passed numerous constraints on political freedom in the Homeland Security Act and the McCain-Feingold restrictions on political speech."
Here, I noted, is how the Democrats' New Age Conservatism played out: "The Democrats, for their part, ran as conservatives of the new kind New Age conservatives. They presented themselves as against prolonging what they characterized as a failed Iraq adventure, against economic giveaways to the rich (meaning tax cuts), against Bush administration failures to reign in outlaws such as bin Laden and Kim Jong-Il, against immigration reform, against school reform, against Social Security reform, against anything that would challenge the current big-government system their Democrat forebears built (with all too much Republican cooperation)."
Reflecting on ideas I brought up six months ago in my article "The Crash of Big Government Conservatism," on Tech Central Station, I conclude in my NRO piee,
"The Republicans have been strongest when they have adhered to classical liberal principles and articulated them boldly, as in the Reagan years and New Gingrich's Republican revolution. They have been weakest when they have attempted to be New Age conservatives, as during the two Bush administrations when they have governed as Democrats Lite.
"The political right is well aware that the solution to economic and social problems is nearly always to unleash the creativity and intelligence of the American people and encourage representative government abroad without forcing it on anyone not to place ever-greater restraints on initiative and economic freedom at home and attempt nation-building abroad before defeating the enemies of democracy. Yet the Republicans simply have not had the courage to defy the mainstream media and follow their principles.
"For the Republicans to have consistent electoral success and govern well, they must transform themselves from a Bush party of New Age conservatism to a Reagan party of true, classical liberalism."
I am trying in these articles to raise the idea that the Right is the true home of liberal thinking today, and that the Left is truly conservative. I think that classical liberalism is the true center of American politics, and that if the Republicans embrace it, it will be all to the good both for them and for the country.
I understand, of course, that this topic will be controversial to those who embrace and see great value in the term "conservatism," but I truly believe that the use of that term to describe the Right today is deceptive and counterproductive. Conservatism more properly describes the Left, and I offer this point up for discussion in a spirit of true comity and commitment to Reagan-Burke liberal principles which I believe we on the Right share most widely.
I've been discussing this further on my website, Karnick on Culture, and invite all to visit and leave comments.
S. T. Karnick, Karnick on Culture, http://stkarnick.com.
Okay, so 39% or so of the voters identified as conservative and something like 19% identified as liberal. So....we want to change names with them? I don't think so.
We are doomed. The lamestream media will never allow a repub. pres. to be elected ever again.
The author is right. Conservatives (not R's) today are the agents of change. But these are just labels. Labels are useful and we have spent years building up a great negative brandname for "liberal." Why toss it out all that work?
I agree we need to get back to Reaganism, but I think 'classical liberalism' is a misnomer.
Good point, but it is our policies that they like. Our stated policies, not the ones the Republicans have governed under. People are not so stupid that if we clarify things with a new self-description, they won't understand. It's not particularly complex, after all. On the contrary, the voters quite rightly don't like what Republican-style "conservatism" has been about in the past few years. Hence a name change should be all to the good.
Small-government conservatives will eventually have to come to terms with some kind of national health care, or at least one that plugs the gaps for those who don't have it. This is a middle-class issue - health costs are simply out of reach of anyone without insurance. People like Rush and Hannity don't understand this because they are very well off. Republicans will ignore this issue at their peril. This must be done at the same time that the budget is balanced, and so taxes on the upper levels - and maybe even the middle levels - must go up. The public will support this.
LOL! The idea has merit, even, "globally". My first chuckle of the day. I think I like this idea.
New age conservatism? Great. I'm a conservative. I don't like my age--where do I sign up for a new one?
Yeah, OK, semantics. So I'm a liberal now. Thank you for that riveting and cogent analysis, NRO.
Sounds right. Technically, I'm probably a reactionary. I want the old deal back.
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