Up Frum Conservatism pt. I

Conservatism is in disarray; not so much because Conservatives don?t know what to believe, but because Conservatives feel betrayed and marginalized.? This conversation has been going on now for the past two years, and in all honesty, is a bit hackneyed.? Nevertheless, one needs to just visit David Frum?s New Majority and see the constant debate between different ?Conservatives? espousing different agendas.? Debate really rages when the many liberal cowans and ease-droppers that populate the boards dedicated to ?building a Conservatism that can when again? take their pot shots at the plethora of contributors.? I bring up Frum?s website because I admire the man for his intellectual vigor and his general ability to adapt the principles of Conservatism into public policy.

I have been in many debates, in the days of my youth (what I tend to call my Rousseauian days, or less ?lucid moments? as Burke said of Rousseau), with my professors in college regarding Conservatism.? The basic debates, as I was a sophomoric chap hell bent on anything ?freedom? and ?free-market.?? I find that high-school and collegiate Conservatives tend to be such a way; much more libertarian-leaning to counter the hordes of their liberal-leaning peers.? My favorite professor, and the one who molded me into what he calls an ?Aristotelian Conservative,? argued that Conservatives have to calm down on the ?hate the government? mantra.? I of course would respond with a typical talking point of some sort, but he would elaborate concisely by explaining to me the difficulty in asking people to ?vote for my side to run the entity I despise.?? Like asking for the reigns of a wagon, but hating horses, Conservatisms degradation from respect for a government (albeit one that is smaller and more efficient), into total malice for government on all levels no matter what.? Let?s clear some things up, true Conservatism respects government and power, it is this respect that drives us to remain vigilant when it comes to those in power.? We can want a smaller and more efficient republic without promulgating total disdain for government.?

This is where the likes of Mr. Frum, and other Republicans come in.? They can take the principles of Conservatism, and turn them into policies that are much more pragmatic and less utopian than much of the liberal welfare state?s programs.? I remember reading Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again while in college and being particularly struck by his chapter on education.? It was mind-altering for me, because as I was enjoying the splendors of a small state college, I was unaware that my learning (among other things) was being subsidized on as many levels as it was (including my loving and generous parents).? I remembered being a bit upset after reading the book in its entirety because it was not as Conservative as I?d hoped.? Yet, I learned to appreciate those who could use a Conservative foundation to build programs with less adverse consequences.

My disagreement with Mr. Frum has been on the rise as of late.? To many Conservatives it feels like they are laying on the hardened floor of the political structure, gasping for air, and David Frum seems to offer a helping hand while simultaneously slipping a kick in the ribs.? I don?t mean to say that Mr. Frum does not want to see Conservatism rise ?phoenix-like? from the ashes, but his antics have led him all over the political spectrum in recent months, almost as if he were holding a witch?s guiding stick in an effort to find more voters.? It feels like it is not about Conservatism, it is about the Republican Party.? What Mr. Frum seems to neglect in his political pontificating, is that Conservatives did congeal into the Republican Party in an effort to win elections, and the Republican Party screwed them.? Gerrymandering districts was a ?Republican? thing, not what Conservatives advocated.? Wreckless spending was a Republican problem (in an effort to keep getting votes) not a Conservative one, et cetera.? Mr. Frum is advocating a Party allegiance before principled interest in my book.? I cannot say that I am all for that, though I would rather see Republicans win, because the ?good? democrats that once existed seem to be an extinct species (except in very few cases).? We need to concentrate more on articulating Conservatism, and arguing against the stereotype that Conservatism is an ideology.? This, I believe, is what Mr. Frum means to do; but he is doing it in a way that marginalizes Conservatives.? We must explain that Conservatism is a reference of mind, the anti-ideal.? Within the ranks of Conservatism does true Socratic discussion lie; and it is when we turn to Party politics that we allow the slandering to occur.? The ?if you don?t support this then you are anti-American? or ?if you Conservatives don?t support the war without question then I am writing you out of the movement? is a prime example of party over principle and country.? I believe that the Republican majority can win and would be better for the country if they stay true, but I respectfully implore Mr. Frum to stop taking pages out of the Obama Administration play book.? Conservatives are starting to feel like we?re being treated like Obama treated his ?racist? grandmother; you know the one that supported him and his mother as he grew up, only to be thrown under the bus during his campaign so he could look like he transcended racism.? It feels like Mr. Frum is not acknowledging the importance of the movement that brought the Republicans to their most powerful culmination in history, and we do not want to end up under a Greyhound as well?

There is a post of David Frum’s from The Week that initiated this thought.? More to come…

-rj

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