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May 06, 2009


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I pray that you are right, because it sure as hell looks like 233 years of successful experimentation in conservatism are coming to a permanent end.

What we so desperately need right now is another Ronald Regan.

Guelph first

I agree with much of what you said, 80% or so, but I think your premise and logic are off a bit on a few points. Nothing a couple of beers won’t sort out.


I ain't no conservative, but I once was. Nixon, his "Southern strategy" and his bloody wars introduced doubt; Reagan's ruinous and hypocritical tripling of the national debt with surrogate wars and lavish military hardware clinched my conversion.

Yet I can still appreciate that this post gives perhaps the most clearly laid out explanation of what classic conservatism is (or was) about that I've seen in years and years. As I read down the list of conservative principles, I applied it to Conservatives I Have Known, and it helped me understand what made the buggers tick. That's the acid test. I can actually see how conservatism, for want of a better word, could appeal to them. Nice job.

I remember admiring paleo-conservatives like Barry Goldwater and even Eisenhower, who has been rehabilitated of late as historians finally learned to adjust for his Kansas modesty. George Will and William Safire are not without redeeming qualities. And then, on the Canadian side, there's Joe Clark and some of the Red Tories.

In accord with the point you make in your post, these are all people (men, as one would expect in a conservative pantheon) whose politics derived from their characters, not their cortices. Political theory was anathema; government a (somewhat) necessary evil, irrefutable evidence of the tragic flaws in human character.

The current crop of neo-cons and Harper Conservatives inspires little admiration at all for principles or anything else enduring. Where are the character-imbued true conservatives of yesteryear? What happened? Were they mesmerized and then subverted by liberal print media and sitcoms?

As tribute, I leave a quotation that, it seems to me, might complement your list:

"The ratio between supervisory and producing personnel is always highest where the intellectuals are in power. In a Communist country it takes half the population to supervise the other half."

Eric Hoffer, _The Temper of Our Time_, 1967.


It's interesting that in your list of conservative ideas, there's only one place where an adverb is used to dilute the principle:

"Incremental change is generally better than revolution."

Why that caveat, I wonder? Couldn't you, with equal truth, insert the word 'generally' into all those statements?

It seems to me that a true pragmatist would say "there is a time for monetarism, and a time for Keynesianism; a time for saving, and a time for spending; a season to every purpose under heaven." Elsewise, you're being as dogmatic as any socialist.

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