I have been thinking here and there about Conservatism (as many others have). There are some who insist that the Republican Party (and not Conservatism) lost in 2012. The thinking goes that if the Republicans had actually nominated a (severely) Conservative candidate, they would have won. Instead they went with a loser, unConservative candidate and that is why we still have a President Barack Hussein Obama.
However, to me it is clear that Conservatism was actually the true loser in 2012 and the near future. The margins may not have been substantial – (a rather insignificant 5 million votes from an electorate that totaled over 129 million (3.8% to be exact) and a total U.S. population of 315,229,000 (of which 5 million would be 1.57%)…so, about 1.6% of our population gave us Obama Unbound…and, in truth, we are really talking much less than that – for due to our particular system of presidential elections, just flipping a few thousand votes total in certain key districts would have given the election to Romney – but, we still lost.
After such an ego-bruising and demoralizing loss it is natural for folks to analyze what happened and offer suggestions as to what we can do to prevent such a loss from happening again. As is always the case, for Republicans and Conservatives we have two main camps: those who value the power to change things more than ideology and those who value ideology over having the power to change things.
Both positions seem to me to be self-defeating… so I have had some slightly unconnected thoughts lately about approaching things from a different way… a RightWay, if you will.
Here are the thoughts:
On the Alisnky-zation of Right-Wing activity
I suppose there is a downside to adopting Leftist tactics to use towards conservative ends. Stirring up the desire to fight back is understandable… and has been somewhat successful here and there (see 2010). Tapping into people’s frustrations and stoking the fire of anger is a powerful weapon indeed!
But, the problem seems to be that once that fire is stoked, people want to stay angry… and eventually nothing is good enough for them. Everything makes them mad. They either want to perpetually fight against everyone who doesn’t agree with them 100% (read: everyone, period)… or they just want to give up and walk away.
Neither endgame is very helpful.
A lasting and effective conservatism will not come from angry reactions to Leftward lurches. We should remember that.
Not Much Now and Nothing Later… or Even Less Now but Everything Later:
Both ‘sides’ live in this country.
We’re going to have to figure out a way to peacefully co-exist. My preference is to take the long view. A ‘Fabian-type Conservative” movement seems to me like it would be much more philosophically consistent with Conservatism in general. Certainly much more consistent than screaming at Liberals until we are blue (red?) in the face and calling for radical, sweeping changes. (Even if those radical sweeping changes are simply moving us back to the Center as a country).
Far more effective and good for Conservatism in the long run to give the Left just enough rope to hang themselves with.
It’s a strategy mush easier said than done… and one which Republican leaders to this point have not gotten right.
But… one that it is worth risking everything for. (For, if it succeeds, everyone will be the better off).
The Conservative flirtation with Fatalism
The Left’s aim is to make statutory the fundamental transformation of our society that they have already achieved culturally.
The traditional (in the Burkean and “Kirk-ian” sense) Conservative is fated to fight a losing battle.
For every two steps they take “Forward”, our goal is to push them back rightwards by one step.
Such is our lot as reasonable folk. We will fight, but we will ( over the fullness of time) lose, because that is human nature and it is the inevitability of our Fallen World to continue it’s many millennial march towards societal destruction.
Civilizations rise and fall and eventually the world will be made new and humanity’s part here will have been played out.
Our role is simply to pull a Buckley on our country and stand athwart it yelling “Stop!”
Sometimes the country will listen, sometimes it won’t. But in the times (like the one we currently are taking part in) when it won’t Stop no matter how loud we yell… our goal is simply to make it Slow Down.
It is simply my opinion that we can’t even get things to Slow Down if we consider the Left our enemies and treat them as such. Though we be treated as scum by them, it would be anathema to Conservatism to return the favor.
Conservatism is not easy:
Conservatism (like the GOP) has a rather large tent.
Conservatism is naturally set against itself because it is the (somewhat consistent) philosophy that tries to see the world as it is. Liberalism doesn’t have that problem because it simply ignores reality.
So, Conservatism strives to strike balances between the great, equal, and compelling notions of life.
Individual Liberty vs. Traditional Morality
Limited Government vs. Compassion for the Needy
Military Strength that ensures Safety vs. Non-interventionism
And there are many, many, many more “tensions” that Conservatism wrestles with.
Each Conservative will try to seek a balance… but, being human, we each tend to come down a little bit more on one side of things or the other.
So, no two Conservatives have exactly the same set of beliefs.
Still, it’s important for us to at least try to come up with some core things we can all agree on and present those… I just think it’s more difficult to do that than it may seem.
So… are any of those thoughts useful in generating other thoughts and/or conversation?