My fascination with Modern Political Conservatism is waning mightily.
The more I learn about and study the roots of Traditional Conservatism, the more I see the need to latch onto a consistent and though-out philosophy to back up our convictions. At present, we Conservatives are all over the map. This is perhaps, understandable – for if Modern Liberalism is meant to be the antithesis of Conservatism, it stands to reason that Liberalism’s lock-step nature would contrast with the grand variety and diversity of opinion one finds among those who call themselves Conservative.
Nevertheless, what has made political sense – allying with groups who share some common convictions, but hold other views that seem at odds with Conservatism – has allowed expedience to conquer consistency.
It’s not that Neo-Conservatism or Modern Libertarianism (Objectivism-lite) or any of the other sub-sets of Rightward thinking are all wrong. But there are certainly elements within the doctrines of these coalition members that should give the Conservative pause. We must develop a more discriminating sense… and a better flexibility towards others who call themselves Conservatives.
What I mean is that no one on the Right is all good or all bad. (For that matter, no one on the Left is either, but that’s a separate argument). So we should stop the silly personal in-fighting and name-calling among the stupid RINO’s and the Right-Wing Extremists, among the Squishy Establishment and the Tea Party Crazies. Stopping the internecine squabbling is necessary, because it all becomes personal attacks.
However, at the same time, we must be comfortable with disagreement amongst ourselves. What we need to do is separate the idea from the person. That’s something we have simply not been good at doing.
It is here we could delve into matters of strategy and tactics. There is not much argument against the fact that we have been outplayed and outmaneuvered by the Progressive Left. They launched a two-pronged attack against Traditional Conservatism beginning (mainly) 50 years ago. From the bottom-up, they spread their poison into our popular culture which filtered it’s way into society. From the top-down, they created the Modern Welfare State which seeks to make more and more people dependent upon the Federal Government.
The result (along with a little help from some good old fashioned voter fraud) is that Barack Obama was illogically re-elected in 2012 and the country as a whole revealed itself to have slouched quite a ways Leftward.
Our response over the past 50 years has mainly been to attempt to win the top-down battles, while ceding the bottom-up ones. That’s not to say that there haven’t been showy conflicts in the Culture War category. But, simply objecting to moral decay does not slow or stop it’s spread. We Conservatives have allowed the Left to co-op anything seen as a cultural or societal ‘Positive’ while also letting them successfully paint us as perpetuating societal “Negatives’.
Instead, we fought for a smaller, more decentralized Federal Government by working tirelessly to make certain people a part of said government.
Furthermore, it should be noted that it is difficult for a Traditional Conservative to truly have Victory in mind when he fights. Ours is an already lost battle, for the World is a fallen place. We fight not to change the World… but rather to reflect the Light of Heaven in this very dark place. The battle is stoically ceded by the Conservative, for we know the War’s final outcome. He who saved us and who daily renews us will have the ultimate triumph. Until that time, we are called to love Him and love others. This is why I am growing ever more uncomfortable with the way the Right is dealing with the Left. We are, in essence, fighting fire with fire – using their own Alinsky-esque tactics against them. We score zingers and succeed in being too cute by half… but for what? At what point do we understand that there is no profit in gaining the world (or the Senate, or the Presidency) if we lose our souls in the process.
So… well, so what? What then do we do?
Here’s a start:
1) Figure out what Conservatism is… what it means to be a Conservative.
2) Disentangle Traditional Conservatism from either political party
3) Re-group locally and strengthen our own communities and neighborhoods, with an eye towards providing for the less fortunate so as to remove the ‘need’ for Government assistance.
4) Be forthright and honest about the centrality of Faith and Religion in life. (Where one understands Moral Theory to come from is the single most important insight to how they view life)
5) Create. Participate in culture. Not with Conservative Entertainment or Christian Entertainment…. rather with entertainment that simply affirms Truth. We should also not be afraid to look beyond entertainment and into Art of all types.
6) Resist where we must – where Liberalism truly breaks into Life and causes it to decay. But fight with honor and understand that we are merely the Rear Guard.
These are not new ideas… and I am sure they are not original to me. But, again, I think they are a good start to how to frame our forward movement.