It’s not unusual to see articles questioning the Republicans Party’s suitability as a vehicle for conservatives. But this article by David Azerrad questions whether conservatism is a suitable vehicle for the right.
I don’t agree with everything in David’s article and I wish he had defined “conservatism” in other than metaphoric and hyperbolic terms. However, I strongly recommend the article, and I mostly agree with passages like this one:
The common enemy that justified an alliance with the free market fundamentalists is long gone. Today, libertarians actively side with our enemies: they promote open borders and empty prisons, and strengthen China’s hand through their consumer-focused economic policies. Ours is primarily a conservatism of countries and borders, citizens and families, none of which can take root in the barren libertarian soil of atomized individuals and global markets.
There’s also much that I agree with in this passage:
As for our priorities, they are clear. We must confront the great threats of our time: unsustainable immigration levels and rapid demographic change; cratering fertility rates and collapsing families; the corrosive acids of neoliberalism and identity politics (in all their manifestations, from tech censorship to racial preferences); pathological white guilt; a political system largely unmoored from the consent of the governed; fiscal irresponsibility; and the emasculation of men through feminized education and various forms of soma that sap spiritedness (in particular pornography). In short, the entirety of the ruling class’s ideology must be discredited.
My kind of conservatism focuses on protecting America, individual Americans, and core American principles like free speech, religious freedom, free enterprise generally, and freedom from being discriminated against (or preferred) on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, and the like.
Protecting America means a strong defense, a strong policy to combat China, strong anti-terrorism policies, and enforcement of our immigration laws. Protecting individual Americans means supporting the police generally including the use of proactive policing approaches, and imposing stiff sentences on felons. For many, it also means protecting the unborn. And given the benefits strong families confer on individual Americans, it means family-friendly policies, as well.
Protecting core American values means, among other things, firmly rejecting identity politics, as well as America-hating renditions of history.
All of this is consistent with the conservatism of the past 40 years. Substitute the Soviet Union for China, and you have a largely Reaganite agenda.
Conservatives subscribing to this platform could continue to disagree over questions like whether the income tax should be replaced by a national sales tax and, if not, what the marginal tax rates should be; whether particular trade deals should be supported; whether our low level troop commitments in Afghanistan and Syria should be maintained; and gay rights (where issues of religious freedom aren’t at stake).
The agenda outlined above is nationalistic, to be sure. But I’m old enough to remember when it enjoyed bipartisan support. Indeed, I would be old enough to remember this if I were 15 years younger.
A strong defense and steadfast opposition to the leading Communist state didn’t used to be very controversial. Neither did enforcing our immigration laws.
In the 1990s, Joe Biden led the charge for tough on crime measures. Obsessive identity politics are a new blight. Anti-American renditions of history have been percolating for decades, but didn’t become orthodox until fairly recently. So too with the assault on merit selection, free speech, and religious freedom (federal legislation protecting religious freedom, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was enacted with the nearly unanimous support of both sides of the aisle in the 1990s).
Most importantly, virtually all of the items in my agenda continue to enjoy majority support, I believe. But that support is weakening and, in some cases, might soon end, unless conservatives push back vigorously against the erosion.