Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Conservativism Wasn't Rejected; It Was Betrayed"

Maybe by now you've heard how Jeb! brought a recent GOP gathering cheering to its feet by declaring--

"Don't take offense personally if I get mad at Congress," the Republican former Florida governor began. "It's important for us to realize we lost, and there are significant reasons that happened, but it isn't because conservatives were rejected. But it's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country."

He added, “If the promise of pork and more programs is the way Republicans think they’ll regain the majority, then they’ve got a problem.”

Bush's speech prompted three standing ovations from the audience of hundreds at the National Review Institute's conference at the JW Marriott Hotel, reflecting the widespread concern among conservatives that exorbitant government spending led to the loss of majorities in the House and Senate and concern about whether Republicans would again embrace the traditional principles.

If so, you might want to read Glenn Greenwald's response to this claim, as well as to the claim recently put forward by Andrew Sullivan amounting more or less to the same.

When he was popular, George Bush was the Embodiment of Conservatism. Now that he is rejected on a historic scale, he is the Betrayer of Conservatism. That is because "Conservatism" -- while definable on a theoretical plane -- has come to have no practical meaning in this country other than a quest for ever-expanding government power for its own sake. When George Bush enabled those ends, he was The Great Conservative. Now that he impedes them, he is the Judas of the Conservative Movement. It is just that simple and transparent.


All of the attributes which have made the Bush presidency so disastrous are not in conflict with political conservatism as it exists in reality. Those attributes -- vast expansions of federal power to implement moralistic agendas and to perpetuate political power, along with authoritarian faith in the Leader -- are not violations of "conservative principles." Those have become the defining attributes of the Conservative Movement in this country.

That is why the warnings from Sullivan and others that the Republican Party was acting in violation of "conservative principles" fell on deaf ears and even prompted such hostility -- until, that is, Bush's popularity collapsed. "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. Sullivan's principal argument that the Bush presidency never adhered to conservative principles is true enough, but the same can be said of the entire American conservative political movement. That is why they bred and elevated George Bush for six years, and suddenly "realized" that he was "not a conservative" only once political expediency required it.

But now, from the files of "when you're at the bottom of a hole, stop digging" comes this set of "principles" from the geniuses at (h/t LG&M):

In an age when so much of what is called conservatism seems to consist of a tenacious defense of the structures of thought which have ushered in our decline — when, in short, conservatives make their boldest efforts to conserve the Liberalism that paralyzes us — there is just cause in adopting the label “reactionary.”


Below is A Reactionary’s Shorter Catechism, hammered out by myself and long-time Redstate reader Maximos, with input from many others. It is offered in the spirit of More’s further remarks: “If any young man, feeling now within himself the power of accomplishment, hesitates to be called a reactionary . . . let him take courage. The world is not contradicted with impunity, and he who sets himself against the world’s belief will have need of all a man’s endurance and all a man’s strength.” Herewith, we contradict the world:


¶ A healthy polity will have a majority population and culture; contemporary orthodoxy on diversity tends towards anarchy and strife.

¶ The right of a community to maintain its identity, autonomy, and independence is among the first principles of a free polity.[...]

¶ Tradition and custom need not constantly explain or justify themselves as practice or policy. The presumption is in their favor. To drag them before the bar of a rigid rationalism is profound impiety.

¶ Men, and societies of men, are ultimately more apt to maintain loyalties among those who are like them. This is natural and not to be either deplored or extirpated, but rather disciplined by civic virtue.[...]

¶ Indiscriminate blending of cultures is thus undesirable, and more often than not an at least implicit act of aggression against the existing majority culture.[...]

¶ Voting is not a right but a privilege. Its abuse is rampant, and to contain it is a valid object of public policy. More damaging to a republic than corrupt politicians are corrupt voters.[...]

¶ The American traditions of federalism, states’ rights, and localism deserve the deepest respect and cultivation: for in them is the truest protection of liberty.

The folks at RedState miss the good-ole-days of Segregation.

More of this please. Maybe Sean Hannity will include this in his latest cable teevee act.

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