Monday, December 13, 2021

Is this the end of American Conservatism?

 David Brooks, a conservative, thinks conservatism is no longer recognizable today. 


Kevin said...

He gets a lot wrong. For one thing, he doesn't mention that many people voted against Trump in the primaries but for Trump in the general election, because he was not Hillary Clinton. Better to have a chance at conservative policies being implemented than guaranteeing they won't be, not to mention Hillary isn't exactly a beacon of virtue to contrast with Trump in the general conservative's mind - they knew he was not a good guy. And if the media and left fret that conservatives won't listen to their criticism, maybe they should try being objective for once so people would trust them.

For another thing, he makes the common mistake of conflating opposition to the left's racial strategies with racism. To be a conservative on racism is not to support racism, but rather to have other ideas on how to handle it. He doesn't understand that, or at least doesn't mention it here.

And finally, his level of analysis represents how the average conservative thinks in the same way that Aquinas represents how the average Sunday School attendee thinks about Christianity. If you want to truly understand the mindset and motivations of a typical Republican voter, this is not it.

His analysis betrays his thinking anyway, since he referred to the Democrats as a responsible party, which is so laughably false as to virtually invalidate everything else he said. He praised Obama over McCain and Romney and supported Clinton over Trump. I would say he's not motivated by conservatism at all, but rather admires bipartisanship (he said he liked Obama more than Romney but would probably vote for Romney because of the increased chance for bipartisan government). The problem is he thinks Democrats actually desire that, and that only Republicans are extreme. I too admire bipartisanship, but I'm not going to call myself a conservative while praising Obama and Clinton. Thats like an atheist calling Christ the son of God.

I would say he falls somewhere solidly in the center of the political spectrum, with emotional leaning to the left but some intellectual admiration for some ideas on the right. He isn't a conservative.

Starhopper said...

I actually used to be a classically conservative Republican. I subscribed to the National Review, never missed William F. Buckley on his television show, and devoured George F. Will's op-ed columns. I even voted for Barry Goldwater, and voted straight ticket Republican from 1976 to 1984. But the ever-increasingly insanity of the once "grand" old party soured me in the late 80s, and I haven't voted for a single Republican for any office whatsoever since '84.

That in no way makes me a "leftist" (I don't even know what that label means.) I consider myself to be a rational, sane person who works and votes for what is best for my country (in the service of which I devoted practically my entire adult life, first in the Army, and then (until retirement) in the Department of Defense). For the present, what is best for my country is to make sure that the Republican Party is NOT in power.

Kevin said...

For the present, what is best for my country is to make sure that the Republican Party is NOT in power.

That's completely fair, but I see no substantial difference between the parties in terms of what is worst for the country. If I want what is best for the country, then I want virtually the entirety of both parties to be swept out and replaced by reasonable people.

David Duffy said...


People create stories about themselves. I hope that story about your life gives you some comfort.

Starhopper said...

I gives me great comfort to know that I have progressed in my thinking and beliefs throughout my life. It's similar to people finding solace in their conversion stories, their "witness". I may be 70 years old, but I am still constantly discovering new things and consequently still growing.

Also, to (mis)quote Reagan, "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me."

Anyone who thinks he possesses the Truth and doesn't need to question his own beliefs might as well be dead.

David Duffy said...

Perhaps as you progress, you might be able to understand why about half your fellow Americans, mostly in the middle of the country, prefer a Republican governance.

Kevin said...

you might be able to understand why about half your fellow Americans, mostly in the middle of the country, prefer a Republican governance.

Of all non-Republicans I have ever met, not one has felt they didn't understand why people vote Republican - those reasons being stupidity, ignorance, gullibility, bigotry, selfishness, or whatever other negative reasons you can imagine. Not one has acknowledged that people vote Republican for a positive reason.

Perhaps the trend will break here.

Starhopper said...

In that regard, we're not that different from England, where the Conservative Party is strong in rural districts, and the Labor Party is dominant in the cities. The same goes (to a lesser degree) in both Germany and Poland, but in both those countries the split is more regional than urban/rural. (Southern Germany tends to be mostly conservative, while the North is very liberal. Western Poland is what we would call progressive, while the East is downright reactionary.)

As for the US, it's not hard to understand. People in small towns tend to distrust change and have little tolerance for diversity, whereas city dwellers live amongst continual change and rub shoulders every day with people from multiple backgrounds. It's why the suburbs are so important in elections, because they are neither one nor the other.

Growing up in the middle of the desert in Arizona, I guess it was natural for me to be quite conservative in my youth. But I've lived my entire adult life in cities, so the liberal/progressive ambiance was bound to rub off on me. Also, spending 10 years of my career living overseas (Germany, Korea, and the UK) broadened my mind to differing cultures and multiple viewpoints. I got to see up close and personal what works and what doesn't in various forms of government. Half the time I was glad to be an American, but the other half I was deeply envious of how things were done elsewhere.

Starhopper said...

"Perhaps the trend will break here."

No, I sadly do not believe so. I am quite pessimistic about America's future. I seriously (no joke) expect the country to break up within the next 50 years, into at least 4, and as many as 8, independent countries.

David Duffy said...

"I am quite pessimistic about America's future. I seriously (no joke) expect the country to break up"

I understand why you gravitate toward the old Democratic party. It's a Confederate, can't get along with others thing.

Starhopper said...

At 70 years old, I will not live to see whether my pessimism is justified or not. But I genuinely hold out no hope for the long term future of the USA.

Any why should it be otherwise? No nation has lasted forever. Babylon, Assyria, Pharaonic Egypt, Alexander, Carthage, Rome, the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union... they all thought they would last forever. What possible reason is there for thinking that America is somehow exempt from history?

Serious question. Do you think that the USA is somehow eternal? Can you not see a time when school children will someday be taught about that long lost country known as "America"?

David Duffy said...

"Serious question. Do you think that the USA is somehow eternal?"

Nations, the planet Earth, the cosmos, are not eternal.

Would you like to ask another "serious question?"

Starhopper said...

How about the 2nd half of my question? A less "cosmic" time frame.

bmiller said...

I've read Brook's article and I largely agree with Kevin's intial analysis.

Except maybe for this: He isn't a conservative.

He is a conservative, but what he is conserving is a branch of atheist Enlightenment thinking. The Anglo side rather than the French side. Both sides reject objective morality. Consequently Christians who reject consequentialism are not his allies, although they more frequently find a closer alignment of their values in the Republican platform than the Democrat platform.

It seems these types of Christians don't really see either party necessarily being for them, so it's a matter of choosing the lesser of evils. Although Trump may be a jerk, these people in flyover country saw someone who finally was addressing and fighting for their issues. I suppose they would favor a Republican party that rejects the atheistic Enlightenment theory of Brooks which is why he is so upset with them. At least the Democrats still support the atheist Enlightenment.

bmiller said...

At least the Anglo side of the Enlightenment was not outright hostile to and did not seek the destruction of religion outright as the French side did. So believers will not be as hostilely treated under the former Enlightenment ideology as the latter.

Both though, demand that the religious bow to the secular.