Friday, December 05, 2008

The Trouble with the Base

Reading this Corner piece from the great Ramesh Ponnuru, two things struck me.

First, I noticed a trend: people are picking apart the Republican party and the conservative movement into constituent groups -- Married Anglo-Saxon Protestants, conservative Catholics, et al. Seeing a lack of physical diversity, they then prescribe as remedy the abandonment of foundational ideology.

The troubles with that line of thinking are legion, but the main thing about it is the continual confusion of the Republican Party with the conservative movement.

The Republican Party is a liberal organization. It was founded in the liberal furnace of Abolition, tempered by war with the truly conservative forces of Southern aristocracy, and had its new car smell become malodorous with the stench of Reconstruction. It was the party of the intellectual, of noblesse oblige, and of the black voters they freed from bondage.

Nowadays, the Republican Party exists as a vehicle to win elections, based primarily around the popularity of laissez faire economics. That social conservatives largely identify with it is because A) social conservatives are largely free-market types, as well, and B) they have nowhere else to go.

Modern Conservatism, forged by Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan, is an alloy of the conservative notion of not fixing what is not broken with the ideas of Enlightenment and classical liberalism. It attempts to keep America fixed in its foundational form. It's a bit of a coincidence that conservative in America means classical liberal.

This unification of the Republican Party and conservatism is a holdover from Ronald Reagan, so forged by the power of his ideas and his steadfast support of them. People are naturally wont to label themselves, and to adopt the ideas of those peers and leaders with whom they largely agree. This, too, welds the Republican Party and conservatism.

But even with the difference between the Republican Party and the conservative movement, it must be recognized that the people who make up these groups are motivated by a set of beliefs. Almost all Republicans have as a core belief that people are better off when they can fend for themselves economically. Government, in this mindset, exists to defend us from each other and from outsiders. As Reagan said, government is not the solution, but the problem.

Another core Republican belief is that all men are created equal. We do not want discrimination, even if it is intended to remedy earlier discrimination in some other direction.

And it is these ideas which fundamentally bind us together, and these ideas we seek to further.

We cannot therefore reach out to other "groups" without recoiling in horror at the thought of dividing mankind up into groups. It stinks of the corpse of that war we fought in our youth, and it is not our way.

We believe our ideas are of universal appeal, and do not need to be packaged to pander to people based on their personal place in the nation's demography.

The second thing that struck me is that Ramesh Ponnuru is for some reason still reading Kathleen Parker.

Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eloquently conservative. Bravo. ~Jimmy

Blog stats

Add to Technorati Favorites