- Pro-life made sense. Abortion is the most insane inversion of the order nature I could and can imagine.
- I thought prison sentences for most crimes made no sense.
- Keeping the government mostly out of the market made sense (though I was skeptical of conservative opposition to minimum wage increases and I thought tariffs made sense)
- I also thought that going to war all of the time seemed to be a “liberal” use of money.
My Skepticism Rose
The Five Stages of Conservative
- Stage 1: “Mark my words: if the extreme left had its way, they’d foist X upon us! These nutjobs must be opposed at all costs.”
- Stage 2: “Omigosh, now even thoughtful, mainstream liberals favor X! Fortunately, it’s political suicide.”
- Stage 3: “X now exists in 45 out of 50 states. Fellow conservatives, we need to learn how to adjust to this grim new reality.”
- Stage 4: “X isn’t so bad, really, when you think about it. And you know, sometimes change is good. Consider slavery…”
- Stage 5: “Hey, I was always in favor of X! You must have me confused with a [paleocon, theocon, Bible thumper, etc.]. But everyone knows that mainstream conservatism has nothing to do with those nutjobs…”
Stage five describes contemporary conservatives thoroughly.
Christians do this, too.
“Those other Christians are bad, please like me now.”
I think I used to do it, too. Seminary trains you to want approval from non-Christians. Several professors I know are like this.
One of them is so condescending, even to people to whom he used to be a pastor, it’s difficult to imagine that he ever called himself a Christian. Usually hating Christians is the wine of atheists. But his main point is to signal to his academic friends that he’s not like all those low IQ rednecks he used to pastor.
No “Conservative Principles”
Even when conservatives claim to be using logic rather than rhetoric to make arguments against this or that idea or candidate, the same logic is applicable against them. Heck, I’ve heard conservatives rail against the tendency of populist movements to appeal to the poor and if anybody appeals to the poor they should be ignored. But that’s precisely part of Jesus’ appeal in the ancient world. Conservatives, in their effort to get people to see them as “not like those other conservatives” will make up principles they’ve never adopted before. This reminds me of when Publius Decius Mus opined that many of conservatives deep “principled concerns” aren’t even principles:
What, specifically, is good in a political context varies with the times and with circumstance, as does how best to achieve the good in a given context. The good is not tax rates or free trade. Those aren’t even principles. In the American political context, the good is the well-being of the physical America and its people, well-being defined (in terms that reflect both Aristotle and the American Founding) as their “safety and happiness.” That’s what conservatism should be working to conserve.
Mark Rubio said that he didn’t think conservatives should look at wikileaks materials because it might happen to conservatives one day. In other words, “It’s bad for politicians to be forced into transparency.” No moral principle such as privacy was evoked, but merely interest in power. Heck, it wasn’t even a, “Do unto others…” thing.
Elsewhere, on the Tweeter, Rick Wilson (a goober in love with family values rhetoric) asked Ann Coulter (who never claims to be polite) personal sex questions of a deeply disturbing nature.
In the National Review, Kevin Williamson exuberantly rhapsodized about how people who live in flyover communities deserve to die for no other reason except a “conservative” form of social darwinism which implies that politicians have no obligations toward the well being of their voters. No mention, of course, that it was bad trade deals supported by conservatives which sent their jobs overseas.
I’m Not Conservative
I’m not conservative by any respectably accepted definition. Conservatives, at least public pundits, are not interested in conserving principles, traditions, people, the economy, or the rule of law. They’re more interested in being the irenic but losing opposition to any of the forces bent on dissolving Western Civilization. The idea that sacrificing your view of the truth in response to social pressure is noble is unacceptable to me.