Monday, December 05, 2005

A reply to Bill Vallicella on political conservatism

BV: Reppert Explains Why He Is Not a Political Conservative

See here. Unfortunately, Victor makes two elementary mistakes in his post.

The first is that of confusing conservatives with Republicans. Although these two classes enjoy a non-null intersection, they are not the same. There are plenty of conservatives who are not Republicans --I am a registered Independent, for instance -- and there are numerous Republicans who could be called conservative only by a serious semantic stretch, as witness Arizona senator John McCain. George Bush, too, is not much of a conservative: on the issue of illegal immigration he is arguably a libertarian, and on education and other issues he is a liberal.

The second mistake is that of confusing a movement with its adherents. Just as Christianity cannot be condemned on the basis of the bad behavior of Christians -- e.g., pedophile priests on the 'Roman' side, greedy televangelist hustlers on the 'evangelical' side -- so too one cannot condemn political conservativsm because of the (alleged) bad behavior of Tom DeLay, et al.

Actually, Victor has given us no good reason at all for not being a political conservative. He didn't even discuss the question. Conservatism is a set of principles and proposals, and Victor said not one word about them.

So I invite Victor to write a second post, one in which he explains what he objects to in conservative ideas, as opposed to explaining why he doesn't want to be associated with certain unsavory characters.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It is about ideas, not people.

Posted by William F. Vallicella on Monday December 5, 2005 at 12:04pm

I think the succeeding post, on A Day in the Life of Joe Republican, gives a better account of the problems I have with conservatism. The post you reference, more accurately, explains why I cannot support the present Republican leadership, which claims to be operating on conservative principles.

And I think the current Republican crew really do practice bad conservatism. I wonder what the Mr. Conservative of my youth (Goldwater) would say about a so-called conservative President who runs up record deficits.

You will notice, too, that DeLay uses free enterprise arguments to support the Saipan sweatshops. What Murkowski, (who is a conservative Republican) was advocating was government interference in the workplace, or rather, the extension of the kind of intrusive government legal interference that is already going on in America to the island of Saipan.

It is interesting that the Republican leadership is eager to "save" Social Security and Medicare, institutions that they opposed when they were initially introduced. If they were bad ideas to begin with, why not abolish them? (Of course some would argue that the private accounts plan does precisely that, but if that is what you're doing, why not say so?)

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