November 26, 2008

A VOICE CRYING IN THE ROCKIES:

From: Schwartze, Bradley J Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:35 AM To: 'dharsanyi@denverpost.com' Subject: A Couple of Questions for Conservatives As the Trip to the Wilderness Begins

Dear Mr. Harsanyi,

As the dust settles on this election year of 2008, it is time to be intellectually honest: For a party and an ideology that “values” God. Family. Country, WE (conservatives and Republicans alike) dishonored God, abused our families, AND CRAPPED ON OUR COUNTRY. That’s something that’s going to stick for a little bit, especially at a time when we are about to be led by a President who got elected by folks who value PEOPLE and STICKING TOGETHER more than adherence to principles.

And let me state this to you very carefully: This Republican is extremely sick and tired of intellectual and media conservatives who will throw me in the garbage at the first sign of bad press from their liberal peers. So, I have a couple of questions for those folks who are “more conservative than Republican:”

* What is it about Conservative Principles that are so Non-Negotiable and so demanding of adherence that people find it necessary to trash fellow Republicans for not fully adhering to them, even if the times demand some modification and adjustment of those Conservative Principles?

* If certain “more conservative than Republican” folks are wedded to the principles as opposed to the Party, what is it that makes them so committed to those principles?

* I keep hearing talk about how the GOP “brand” is damaged. Yet I saw very little effort by conservatives to want to GROW THE BRAND. Leaving aside the asinine idea that a party is a “brand,” don’t conservatives want more people to adopt their ideas and expand upon them? And if so, why is it necessary to show the world that you want to play “keep away” when it comes to blacks and Latinos who naturally want to get into the game?

These questions needed to be asked because for the last four years, WE showed the world that conservatives and the Republicans that got roped into parroting their positions were not willing to take ownership and responsibility for the candidates we elected and the policies we implemented. And conservatives claim to be the “grownups” in political debate!

If you could ask these questions in future columns, Mr. Harsanyi, I’d greatly appreciate it. While we can’t spend too much time over these questions, these are questions that need to be asked and contemplated, regardless of who gets their feelings hurt.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving with you and yours.

Bradley J Schwartze

Denver, CO


Here's the thing that conservatives have the most trouble accepting, just because their analysis of the ills of modernity is accurate does not make them immune from its effects.

Thus, as Friend Schwartze points out, a significant portion of the movement denies any obligation to God when it comes to an issue like immigration and makes war on its institutions--like the Republican Party and the Presidency--when its personal ideology isn't being indulged. Then, having driven away Latinos and those in the middle who don't hate immigrants and having cast the GOP as utterly corrupt and President Bush and John McCain as race-traitors they wonder why election results don't go the way they'd like. Or, as you can read in the various fever swamps of the Right, they celebrate the "purge" of the Republican Party and welcome the trade off of minority status in exchange for greater ideological purity.

As the oft-cited passage from Eric Hoffer says:

Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

That nihilism is just as troubling when it comes from the Right as from the Left. No, it is more troubling, because the Left needs to destroy the culture in order to replace it with their statism. The Right not only knows better, but betrays its core principles when it engages in such mindless destruction.

So we return to the broad definition of conservatism that Russell Kirk offered:

Any informed conservative is reluctant to condense profound and intricate intellectual systems to a few portentous phrases; he prefers to leave that technique to the enthusiasm of radicals. Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogma, and conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the time. As a working premise, nevertheless, one can observe here that the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions.

Conservatives respect the wisdom of their ancestors...; they are dubious of wholesale alteration. They think society is a spiritual reality, possessing an eternal life but a delicate constitution: it cannot be scrapped and recast as if it were a machine. [...]

I think there are six canons of conservative thought--

(1) Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of right and duty which links great and obscure, living and dead. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. [...]

(2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems. [...]

(3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes. The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts at levelling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation. [...]

(4) Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic levelling is not economic progress. Separate property from private possession and liberty is erased.

(5) Faith in prescription and distrust of 'sophisters and calculators.' Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite, for conservatives know man to be governed more by emotion than by reason. Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man's anarchic impulse.

(6) Recognition that change and reform are not identical, and that innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it is a torch of progress. Society must alter, for slow change is the means of its conservation, like the human body's perpetual renewal; but Providence is the proper instrument for change, and the test of a statesman is his cognizance of the real tendency of Providential social forces.


And what do we note here? That conservatism's canon is universalist. Unlike the identity politics of the Left, which divides men up into tribes and interest groups, our politics is accessible to everyone and is the same for everyone who accepts and adheres to the morality, rights, and obligations of our society's traditions. In a very real sense then, conservatism is, uniquely, the politics of Anglo-Americanism and Judeo-Christianity. That is what it is we seek to conserve. That is the "brand." That is why the "Next" GOP will be very much like the last GOP, why the next nominee will be like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The reality is that people of color are going to be conservative, in this sense, irrespective of how the movement and the party treat them. And, eventually, demographics will give them the numbers to be a majority in America's conservative party. The only question before us at this point in time is whether the currently white-male dominated GOP and conservative movement believe in their own canons enough to welcome and assist this ascension by moral equals or whether there will be a period of futile and self-destructive resistance. Is this the party of Lincoln or of Wallace?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 26, 2008 9:57 AM
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