Dec 20 2007

Forget The Old Conservative Model – We Need A Modern Conservatism

Published by at 8:17 am under 2008 Elections,All General Discussions

Want to know what’s wrong with the GOP at the moment? It’s in a muddle. The civil war the far right began imploded the governing coalition. They felt there was no more common ground with room to negotiate common solutions. Compromise was evil and traitorous and made you a RINO – unless you were an independent like me – I am not even up to being a RINO! Charles Kesler today notes the resulting problem of the civil war (it was much worse than infighting given the insults flying from the far right): there is no common vision to work towards:

But the main cause of the perplexity is something else, I think. Republicans lack a clear criterion by which to make up their mind. Not so long ago, that standard would have included a definition of conservatism–ragged at the edges, but still serviceable. But American conservatism’s meaning, even in its heyday never uncontroversial, is less clear today. And the implications of that meaning–where conservatism should go from here–are more up in the air than at any time since the movement’s founding in the 1950s.

As a result, Republican presidential candidates are tempted, indeed almost compelled, to reinvent conservatism for our times.

The problem is that Republican voters don’t recognize any of these trial versions of conservatism as the real deal, a distillation of American principles for our time; and they’re right.

Look, as long as compromise is evil you cannot govern a democracy. When disagreements end in vicious name calling and character assassination then there is no way to join forces to govern. And once the damage is done, unless their is admission that lines were crossed and honest reconciliation a coalition cannot be rebuilt. We don’t need to know who is more conservative (waste of time, that one). We need to know what can we do together.

And sadly it begins with immigration reform. I for one now have a litmus test for candidates – they either deal with the long term immigrants as proposed in the last two immigration bills or they do not get my support. That was the final straw, the issue that broke the back of the conservative governing coalition. Until and unless those who overreacted come back into the fold then there will be no consensus.

And I have a second litmus test – end the Bush bashing unless you are President and can do better. Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism is a great new model. And it has been a huge success. It avoided creating factories of embryos for the creation of spare parts – probably one of history’s most important decision points in terms of being pro-life. Abortion is bad, but it is an individual choice which is losing its luster. Government sanctioned and funded factories of embryos destined for destruction (and probably representing more human beings than those in wombs waiting to be born) would have been the proverbial pact with the devil. And George Bush avoided this path against great pressure.

His work on education (schools now get and “F” when they fail to teach), Senior Citizen health and quality of life (access to prescriptions IS lowering health care costs), taxes and the war – to name a few – have been enormous successes outshining even Reagan.

Bush would be hailed today as a testament to conservative thinkers, if a lot of arrogant pretend-to-be’s weren’t always knocking him for not getting their wishes met (and if they can’t do it either they have no place to whine)> When I see someone nitpick Bush I see someone who is not capable of working in a governing coalition. And if they will rag on Bush after all he has done they will rag on anyone the moment their views are violated. So that is my second litmus test.

Want a governing coalition? End the purity wars, and the negative, back biting comments and get on to making progress. And give up on perfection – humanity doesn’t make perfection on a grand scale – that only comes in small, fleeting scales – like the perfect music for the moment. Perfection from DC is a fool’s errand.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Forget The Old Conservative Model – We Need A Modern Conservatism”

  1. MerlinOS2 says:


    What I see driving this issue is different from you probably because I am older than you and have watched the trend.

    What has happened the exactly what Regan told the Dem’s years ago they didn’t leave their party their party left them.

    Back then that meant the Dem party had move left of it’s base and the traditional Dems were more aligned with the policies of the Republican party especially in the deep south.

    What is going on today is that left movement by the Dems has accelerated by the Dems and just plain made the jump to light speed by the far left.

    The result being that the mid point between the two parties is rapidly being dragged to the left.

    Now what will have to be decided is if the Republican party wants to move far enough left of their historic positions to gather up support from the middle or make a stand for traditional values of the party.

    Some would suggest that the movement to the left of the center point has gone so far that for the Republican Party to adopt that position they would actually have to remake themselves into the Dem party of 15 or 18 years ago.

    That is the issue that is causing all the grief, but out of control spending and other similar behaviors just cloud the water.

  2. Jake70 says:

    You actually think that No Child Left Behind and and the Medicare nonsense are even remotely “conservative”? No wonder you’re in the wilderness politically.

  3. WWS says:

    The WSJ’s e-mail bulletin today had a haiku that is just too good not to repost:

    Bye-Ku for Tom Trancredo

    Is it really true
    The nativists are restless?
    Not enough to vote

  4. vanderleun says:

    Jake70…. seldom have I seen a post that so conclusively proves the point of the post.

    You, and the rest of the hard core repubs have to regroup, or you will be in the wilderness for decades.

  5. AJStrata says:


    I am an ex-dem independent who many times disagrees with the GOP (e.g., immigration reform). Maybe you should read more posts before jumping to wrong conclusions.

    And the only reason the GOP has a chance this years is the Dems have been historically pathetic – so I wouldn’t crow too loudly from the left there.

  6. owl says:

    Bravo AJ on a perfect post. I moved to this position after they wrecked our majorities with their stupidity (with generous help from the Pug Congress). They are going to miss one of our greatest Presidents and I hope they live long enough to realize it.

    Merlin…..Reagan was right about the Dem Party leaving him. I sit in TX in what was once pure Dem country, now turned red. You could not vote for county offices unless you voted Dem. in the ole days. I still have friends that vote Dem but most have moved to the Pugs. What is amazing is that all these friends share the EXACT same values. It is the MSM………pure and simple. These people still believe what they read, hear and watch. Many do not like Bush and it is laughable because they share HIS values and not even close to the current DNC. I disagree about the Party moving left. Reagan was a very practical man and not one iota more of the Purity Party than Bush.