December 18, 2008

YOU CAN'T EXPECT THE DARWINIAN RIGHT NOT TO REACT BADLY...:

The Strength of Compassionate Conservatism (Michael Gerson, December 17, 2008, Washington Post)

Far from being a vague, weepy tenderness, compassionate conservatism has a rigorous definition. It teaches that the pursuit of the common good is a moral goal. It asserts that this goal is best achieved through strong families, volunteer groups and communities that all deserve legal deference and respect. But it also accepts that when local institutions fail -- a child is betrayed by a consistently failing school, a state passes a Jim Crow law, a nation is helpless to tackle a treatable disease -- the federal government has a responsibility to intervene. Such interventions generally are most successful when they promote individual and community empowerment instead of centralizing bureaucratic control. But when that is not possible, it is fully appropriate to send in the Army to desegregate the schools of Little Rock.

Instead of being a "romantic cult," compassionate conservatism is often motivated by an ancient orthodoxy: that God is somehow found especially incarnate in the poor, suffering and weak. Instead of being a "sentiment," it is a conviction: that government can be a noble enterprise when it applies creative conservative and free-market ideas to the task of helping those in need.

This, of course, implies a critique of traditional or libertarian conservatism. Tradition often contains stores of hidden wisdom -- but in the absence of moral vision, it can become warped and oppressive. The free market is the best way to distribute goods and services -- but its triumph is not always identical to justice. Conservatism is essential -- and incomplete.

The moral commitments that underlie compassionate conservatism will not fade with the passing of a political figure, party or ideology, because these beliefs stand in eternal judgment of all ideologies, including conservatism. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot bury what cannot die.


...when you expose its lack of moral vision, or even hostility to morality. If nothing else you're forcing them to recognize their convergence with the Left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 18, 2008 7:26 AM
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