Wednesday, January 18

Conservative Contradictions

Fodder for a very long post, which I will spare you for now:

[My publication] stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.
William F. Buckley, Jr., in National Review's debut editorial, November 19, 1955

If you're afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.
Ronald Reagan, in a speech to the Nevada Republican Party, October 7, 1982.

For some homework on the issue, I recommend starting at the beginning, with Burke, Adams, and Randolph, and then flitting ahead to Newman and Kirk, before landing on Hayek (particularly, "Why I Am Not A Conservative"), and von Mises. A haphazard committee of the usual suspects, I know, but if there is a way of reconciling them all, then I've not read it. Or, you can just ponder the question of why so many conservatives bemoan President Bush's lack of conservative bona fides at the same time that he is lambasted as the most conservative president in modern history by Democrat voters. For the Cliff Notes version of the internal conservative debate, you can just read Jonah Goldberg's old piece, which notes that conservatives (fortunately for most of them) "are comfortable with contradictions." The article also usefully repeats, or refers the reader to, two classic attempts at a description of conservatism, by Kirk and Buckley, as well as a more recent definition by the quintessential Anglo-American, John Derbyshire.

Or, you can follow Burke's lead and dismiss such abstract philosophizing as a waste of time (and suspiciously continental), and get on with the business of governing.