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WHAT HAPPENED TO AMERICAN CONSERVATISM?

The rich philosophical tradition I fell in love with has been reduced to Fox News and voter suppression.

By David Brooks

Ifell in love with conservatism in my 20s. As a politics and crime reporter in Chicago, I often found myself around public-housing projects like Cabrini-Green and the Robert Taylor Homes, which had been built with the best of intentions but had become nightmares. The urban planners who designed those projects thought they could improve lives by replacing ramshackle old neighborhoods with a series of neatly ordered high-rises.

But, as the sociologist Richard Sennett, who lived in part of the Cabrini-Green complex as a child, noted, the planners never really consulted the residents themselves. They disrespected the residents by turning them into unseen, passive spectators of their own lives. By the time I encountered the projects they were national symbols of urban decay.

Back then I thought of myself as a socialist. But seeing the fallout from this situation prompted a shocking realization: This is exactly what that guy I read in college had predicted. Human society is unalterably complex, Edmund Burke argued. If you try to reengineer it based on the simplistic schema of your own reason, you will unintentionally cause significant harm. Though Burke was writing as a conservative statesman in Britain some 200 years earlier, the wisdom of his insight was apparent in what I was seeing in the Chicago of the 1980s.

I started reading any writer on conservatism whose book I could get my hands on—Willmoore Kendall, Peter Viereck, Shirley Robin Letwin. I can only describe what happened next as a love affair. I was enchanted by their way of looking at the world. In conservatism I found not a mere alternative policy agenda, but a deeper and more resonant account of human nature, a more comprehensive understanding of wisdom, an inspiring description of the highest ethical life and the nurturing community.

What passes for “conservatism” now, however, is nearly the opposite of the Burkean conservatism I encountered then. Today, what passes for the worldview of “the right” is a set of resentful animosities, a partisan attachment to Donald Trump or Tucker Carlson, a sort of mental brutalism. The rich philosophical perspective that dazzled me then has been reduced to Fox News and voter suppression.

I recently went back and reread the yellowing conservatism books that I have lugged around with me over the decades. I wondered whether I’d be embarrassed or ashamed of them, knowing what conservatism has devolved into. I have to tell you that I wasn’t embarrassed; I was enthralled all over again, and I came away thinking that conservatism is truer and more profound than ever—and that to be a conservative today, you have to oppose much of what the Republican Party has come to stand for.

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This essay is a reclamation project. It is an attempt to remember how modern conservatism started, what core wisdom it contains, and why that wisdom is still needed today.

Our political categories emerged following the wars of religion of the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. It was a time of bitterness, polarization, and culture war—like today, but a thousand times worse. The Reformation had divided Europe into hostile Catholic and Protestant camps. The wars were a series of massacres and counter-massacres, vicious retributions, and even more vicious counter-retributions. Blaise de Monluc, a French commander, was a characteristic figure. In 1562, as Sarah Bakewell recounts in her book How to Live, he was sent to pacify the city of Bordeaux after a Protestant mob had attacked the town hall during a riot. Monluc’s method was mass murder. He hanged Protestants in the street without trial. His suppression was so bloodthirsty that his troops ran out of gallows and had to hang people from trees. So many Protestants were killed and thrown into a well that their bodies entirely filled the deep shaft. In 1571, Monluc was shot in the face, and he spent the rest of his life behind a mask—a disfigured man from a disfigured age.

Eventually many Europeans became exhausted and appalled. The urgent task was this: how to construct a society that wouldn’t devolve into bitter polarization and tribal bloodbaths. One camp, which we associate with the French Enlightenment, put its faith in reason. Some thought a decent social order can be built when primitive passions like religious zeal are marginalized and tamed; when individuals are educated to use their highest faculty, reason, to pursue their enlightened self-interest; and when government organizes society using the tools of science.

Another camp, which we associate with the Scottish or British Enlightenment of David Hume and Adam Smith, did not believe that human reason is powerful enough to control human selfishness; most of the time our reason merely rationalizes our selfishness. They did not believe that individual reason is powerful enough even to comprehend the world around us, let alone enable leaders to engineer society from the top down. “We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason, because we suspect that this stock in each man is small,” Burke wrote in Reflections on the Revolution in France.

This is one of the core conservative principles: epistemological modesty, or humility in the face of what we don’t know about a complex world, and a conviction that social change should be steady but cautious and incremental. Down the centuries, conservatives have always stood against the arrogance of those who believe they have the ability to plan history: the French revolutionaries who thought they could destroy a society and rebuild it from scratch, but who ended up with the guillotine; the Russian and Chinese Communists who tried to create a centrally controlled society, but who ended up with the gulag and the Cultural Revolution; the Western government planners who thought they could fine-tune an economy from the top, but who ended up with stagflation and sclerosis; the European elites who thought they could unify their continent by administrative fiat and arrogate power to unelected technocrats in Brussels, but who ended up with a monetary crisis and populist backlash.

If conservatives don’t think reason is strong enough to order a civilization, what human faculty do they trust enough to do the job? Here we have to resort to a classic 18th-century concept—the “sentiments.” An early book of Burke’s was on aesthetics. When you look at a painting, you don’t have to rationally calculate its beauty or its power, the sadness or the joy it inspires. Sentiments are automatic aesthetic and emotional judgments about things. They assign value. They tell you what is beautiful and what is ugly, what to want and what is worth wanting, where to go and what to aim for.

Rationalists put a lot of faith in “I think therefore I am”—the autonomous individual deconstructing problems step by logical step. Conservatives put a lot of faith in the latent wisdom that is passed down by generations, cultures, families, and institutions, and that shows up as a set of quick and ready intuitions about what to do in any situation. Brits don’t have to think about what to do at a crowded bus stop. They form a queue, guided by the cultural practices they have inherited.

The most important sentiments are moral sentiments. Conservatism certainly has an acute awareness of sin—selfishness, greed, lust. But conservatives also believe that in the right circumstances, people are motivated by the positive moral emotions—especially sympathy and benevolence, but also admiration, patriotism, charity, and loyalty. These moral sentiments move you to be outraged by cruelty, to care for your neighbor, to feel proper affection for your imperfect country. They motivate you to do the right thing.

Your emotions can be trusted, the conservative believes, when they are cultivated rightly. “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions,” David Hume wrote in his Treatise of Human Nature. “The feelings on which people act are often superior to the arguments they employ,” the late neoconservative scholar James Q. Wilson wrote in The Moral Sense.

The key phrase, of course, is cultivated rightly. A person who lived in a state of nature would be an unrecognizable creature, scarcely fit for life in society, locked up within and slave to his own unruly desires. The only way to govern such an unformed creature would be through a prison state. If a person has not been trained by a community to tame his passions from within, then the state would have to continuously control him from without.

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True conservatism’s great virtue is that it teaches us to be humble about what we know; it gets human nature right.

Fortunately, people do not generally bring themselves up alone. The state of nature as imagined by John Locke or Jean-Jacques Rousseau has never existed. People are raised within families and communities, traditions and nations—within the civilizing webs of a coherent social order. Over time, humans have evolved arrangements, traditions, and customs that not only help them address practical problems, but also help them form their children into decent human beings. The methods and mores that have stood the test of time have usually endured for good reason. “The world is often wiser than any philosopher,” the journalist Walter Bagehot wrote in the mid-19th century.

Some of the wisdom passed down through the ages is transmitted through books and sermons. But most of the learning happens by habituation. We are formed within families, churches, communities, schools, and professional societies. Each institution has its own stories, standards of excellence, ways of doing things. When you join the Marines, you don’t just learn to shoot a rifle; you absorb an entire ethos that will both help you complete the tasks you will confront and mold you into a certain sort of person: fierce against foes, loyal to friends, faithful to the Corps.

If someone asked you how to treat a woman whose husband has just died, your instinctive response would probably not be “Induce her to host an open house for the next week.” But the Jewish shiva customs are a brilliant set of practices to help people collectively deal with grief, in part by giving everybody something basic and purposeful to do. The shiva rituals nurture a certain way of caring for one another, instantiate a certain sort of family life. They help turn individuals into a people. Institutions instill habits, habits become virtues, virtues become character.

Burkean conservatism inspired me because its social vision was not just about laws, budgets, and technocratic plans; its vision was about soulcraft, about how we build institutions that produce good citizens—people who are moderate in their zeal, sympathetic to the marginalized, reliable in their diligence, and willing to sacrifice the private interest for public good. Conservatism resonated with me because it recognized that culture is more important than the state in driving history. “Manners are of more importance than laws,” Burke wrote.

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Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and color to our lives. According to their quality, they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them.

Conservatives thus spend a lot of time defending the “little platoon[s],” as Burke called them, the communities and settled villages that are the factories of moral and emotional formation. If, as Burke believed, reason alone cannot find the one true answer to any social problem, each community must improvise its own set of solutions to intricate human concerns. The conservative seeks to defend this wonderful heterogeneity from the forces of bigness and the centralizing arrogance of rationalism—to protect these little platoons when government tries to perform roles best done in families, when the federal government takes power from local government, when big corporations suck the vitality out of local economies.

True conservatism’s great virtue is that it teaches us to be humble about what we think we know; it gets human nature right, and understands that we are primarily a collection of unconscious processes, deep emotions, and clashing desires. Conservatism’s profound insight is that it’s impossible to build a healthy society strictly on the principle of self-interest. It’s an illusion, as T. S. Eliot put it, to think that a society in which people don’t have to be good can thrive. Life is essentially a moral enterprise, and the health of your community will depend on how well it does moral formation—how well it nurtures ordered inner lives and helps balance sentiments, desires, and motivations. Finally, conservatism welcomes you into a great procession down the ages. Society “is a partnership in all science,” Burke wrote,

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a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.

By the early 1990s, I was living in Brussels, covering Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for The Wall Street Journal and continuing my conservative self-education. I became fascinated by a British statesman named Enoch Powell. If you were to design the perfect conservative, Powell would seem to be it—a classics scholar, veteran, poet, and man of faith, and the product of the finest Tory training grounds the U.K. had to offer. And yet in 1968, Powell had given his notorious “Rivers of Blood” speech, which was blatant in its racism and shocking in its anti-immigrant message. How, I wondered, had conservatism, which was developed in response to sectarian war, produced a statesman who was trying to start one?

I realized that every worldview has the vices of its virtues. Conservatives are supposed to be epistemologically modest—but in real life, this modesty can turn into a brutish anti-intellectualism, a contempt for learning and expertise. Conservatives are supposed to prize local community—but this orientation can turn into narrow parochialism, can produce xenophobic and racist animosity toward immigrants, a tribal hostility toward outsiders, and a paranoid response when confronted with even a hint of diversity and pluralism. Conservatives are supposed to cherish moral formation—but this emphasis can turn into a rigid and self-righteous moralism, a tendency to see all social change as evidence of moral decline and social menace. Finally, conservatives are supposed to revere the past—but this reverence for what was can turn into an abject deference to whoever holds power. When I looked at conservatives in continental Europe, I generally didn’t like what I saw. And when I looked at people like Powell, I was appalled.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to live within the confines of blood-and-soil European conservatism; I had the American kind. Because conservatism is so rooted in the local manners and mores of each community, there is no such thing as international conservatism. Each society has its own customs and moral practices, and so each society has its own brand of conservatism.

American conservatism descends from Burkean conservatism, but is hopped up on steroids and adrenaline. Three features set our conservatism apart from the British and continental kinds. First, the American Revolution. Because that war was fought partly on behalf of abstract liberal ideals and universal principles, the tradition that American conservatism seeks to preserve is liberal. Second, while Burkean conservatism puts a lot of emphasis on stable communities, America, as a nation of immigrants and pioneers, has always emphasized freedom, social mobility, the Horatio Alger myth—the idea that it is possible to transform your condition through hard work. Finally, American conservatives have been more unabashedly devoted to capitalism—and to entrepreneurialism and to business generally—than conservatives almost anywhere else. Perpetual dynamism and creative destruction are big parts of the American tradition that conservatism defends.

If you look at the American conservative tradition—which I would say begins with the capitalist part of Hamilton and the localist part of Jefferson; extends through the Whig Party and Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt; continues with Eisenhower, Goldwater, and Reagan; and ends with Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign—you don’t see people trying to revert to some past glory. Rather, they are attracted to innovation and novelty, smitten with the excitement of new technologies—from Hamilton’s pro-growth industrial policy to Lincoln’s railroad legislation to Reagan’s “Star Wars” defense system.

American conservatism has always been in tension with itself. In its prime—the half century from 1964 to 2012—it was divided among libertarians, religious conservatives, small-town agrarians, urban neoconservatives, foreign-policy hawks, and so on. And for a time, this fractiousness seemed to work.

American conservatives were united, during this era, by their opposition to communism and socialism, to state planning and amoral technocracy. In those days I assumed that this vibrant, forward-looking conservatism was the future, and that the Enoch Powells of the world were the receding roar of a sick reaction. I was wrong. And I confess that I’ve come to wonder if the tension between “America” and “conservatism” is just too great. Maybe it’s impossible to hold together a movement that is both backward-looking and forward-looking, both in love with stability and addicted to change, both go-go materialist and morally rooted. Maybe the postwar American conservatism we all knew—a collection of intellectuals, activists, politicians, journalists, and others aligned with the Republican Party—was just a parenthesis in history, a parenthesis that is now closing.

Donald trump is the near-opposite of the Burkean conservatism I’ve described here. How did a movement built on sympathy and wisdom lead to a man who possesses neither? How did a movement that put such importance on the moral formation of the individual end up elevating an unashamed moral degenerate? How did a movement built on an image of society as a complex organism give rise to the simplistic dichotomies of manipulative populism? How did a movement based on respect for the wisdom of the past end up with Trump’s authoritarian campaign boast “I alone can fix it,” perhaps the least conservative sentence it is possible to utter?

The reasons conservatism devolved into Trumpism are many. First, race. Conservatism makes sense only when it is trying to preserve social conditions that are basically healthy. America’s racial arrangements are fundamentally unjust. To be conservative on racial matters is a moral crime. American conservatives never wrapped their mind around this. My beloved mentor, William F. Buckley Jr., made an ass of himself in his 1965 Cambridge debate against James Baldwin. By the time I worked at National Review, 20 years later, explicit racism was not evident in the office, but racial issues were generally overlooked and the GOP’s flirtation with racist dog whistles was casually tolerated. When you ignore a cancer, it tends to metastasize.

Second, economics. Conservatism is essentially an explanation of how communities produce wisdom and virtue. During the late 20th century, both the left and the right valorized the liberated individual over the enmeshed community. On the right, that meant less Edmund Burke, more Milton Friedman. The right’s focus shifted from wisdom and ethics to self-interest and economic growth. As George F. Will noted in 1984, an imbalance emerged between the “political order’s meticulous concern for material well-being and its fastidious withdrawal from concern for the inner lives and moral character of citizens.” The purpose of the right became maximum individual freedom, and especially economic freedom, without much of a view of what that freedom was for, nor much concern for what held societies together.

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American conservatism began with the capitalist part of Hamilton and the localist part of Jefferson and ended with Mitt Romney in 2012.

But perhaps the biggest reason for conservatism’s decay into Trumpism was spiritual. The British and American strains of conservatism were built on a foundation of national confidence. If Britain was a tiny island nation that once bestrode the world, “nothing in all history had ever succeeded like America, and every American knew it,” as the historian Henry Steele Commager put it in 1950. For centuries, American and British conservatives were grateful to have inherited such glorious legacies, knew that there were sacred things to be preserved in each national tradition, and understood that social change had to unfold within the existing guardrails of what already was.

By 2016, that confidence was in tatters. Communities were falling apart, families were breaking up, America was fragmenting. Whole regions had been left behind, and many elite institutions had shifted sharply left and driven conservatives from their ranks. Social media had instigated a brutal war of all against all, social trust was cratering, and the leadership class was growing more isolated, imperious, and condescending. “Morning in America” had given way to “American carnage” and a sense of perpetual threat.

I wish I could say that what Trump represents has nothing to do with conservatism, rightly understood. But as we saw with Enoch Powell, a pessimistic shadow conservatism has always lurked in the darkness, haunting the more optimistic, confident one. The message this shadow conservatism conveys is the one that Trump successfully embraced in 2016: Evil outsiders are coming to get us. But in at least one way, Trumpism is truly anti-conservative. Both Burkean conservatism and Lockean liberalism were trying to find ways to gentle the human condition, to help society settle differences without resort to authoritarianism and violence. Trumpism is pre-Enlightenment. Trumpian authoritarianism doesn’t renounce holy war; it embraces holy war, assumes it is permanent, in fact seeks to make it so. In the Trumpian world, disputes are settled by raw power and intimidation. The Trumpian epistemology is to be anti-epistemology, to call into question the whole idea of truth, to utter whatever lie will help you get attention and power. Trumpism looks at the tender sentiments of sympathy as weakness. Might makes right.

On the right, especially among the young, the populist and nationalist forces are rising. All of life is seen as an incessant class struggle between oligarchic elites and the common volk. History is a culture-war death match. Today’s mass-market, pre-Enlightenment authoritarianism is not grateful for the inherited order but sees menace pervading it: You’ve been cheated. The system is rigged against you. Good people are dupes. Conspiracists are trying to screw you. Expertise is bogus. Doom is just around the corner. I alone can save us.

What’s a Burkean conservative to do? A lot of my friends are trying to reclaim the GOP and make it a conservative party once again. I cheer them on. America needs two responsible parties. But I am skeptical that the GOP is going to be home to the kind of conservatism I admire anytime soon.

Trumpian Republicanism plunders, degrades, and erodes institutions for the sake of personal aggrandizement. The Trumpian cause is held together by hatred of the Other. Because Trumpians live in a state of perpetual war, they need to continually invent existential foes—critical race theory, nongendered bathrooms, out-of-control immigration. They need to treat half the country, metropolitan America, as a moral cancer, and view the cultural and demographic changes of the past 50 years as an alien invasion. Yet pluralism is one of America’s oldest traditions; to conserve America, you have to love pluralism. As long as the warrior ethos dominates the GOP, brutality will be admired over benevolence, propaganda over discourse, confrontation over conservatism, dehumanization over dignity. A movement that has more affection for Viktor Orbán’s Hungary than for New York’s Central Park is neither conservative nor American. This is barren ground for anyone trying to plant Burkean seedlings.

I’m content, as my hero Isaiah Berlin put it, to plant myself instead on the rightward edge of the leftward tendency—in the more promising soil of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. If its progressive wing sometimes seems to have learned nothing from the failures of government and to promote cultural stances that divide Americans, at least the party as a whole knows what year it is. In 1980, the core problem of the age was statism, in the form of communism abroad and sclerotic, dynamism-sapping bureaucracies at home. In 2021, the core threat is social decay. The danger we should be most concerned with lies in family and community breakdown, which leaves teenagers adrift and depressed, adults addicted and isolated. It lies in poisonous levels of social distrust, in deepening economic and persisting racial disparities that undermine the very goodness of America—in political tribalism that makes government impossible.

There is nothing intrinsically anti-government in Burkean conservatism. “It is perhaps marvelous that people who preach disdain for government can consider themselves the intellectual descendants of Burke, the author of a celebration of the state,” George F. Will once wrote. To reduce the economic chasm that separates class from class, to ease the financial anxiety that renders life unstable for many people, to support parenting so that children can grow up with more stability—these are the goals of a party committed to ameliorating, not exploiting, a growing sense of hopelessness and alienation, of vanishing opportunity. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s brilliant dictum—which builds on a Burkean wisdom forged in a world of animosity and corrosive flux—has never been more worth heeding than it is now: The central conservative truth is that culture matters most; the central liberal truth is that politics can change culture.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazin...-dead-fox-news-voter-suppression/620853/

I know this is way too long for many here. There is a recording of the author reading it at the link. A true conservative view of the Trumpian Republican Party, refreshing reminder that not all of you GOPers completely sold out.


No really, I care about your feelings. rolleyes

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That was amazing. Captures my thoughts far more eloquently and with far more historical backing than I could have provided.


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WOW Thank you for posting


#GMSTRONG

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Daniel Patrick Moynahan

"Alternative facts hurt us all. Think before you blindly believe."
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Thanks for posting that. It's something that I'll need to read a couple times to really grasp.


There is no level of sucking we haven't seen; in fact, I'm pretty sure we hold the patents on a few levels of sucking NOBODY had seen until the past few years.

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Go listen to it. That's what I ended up doing after reading it twice.


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Any ideology is inherently flawed based on its underlying assumptions. Conservatism is a inherently flawed idea. Just like communism, progressive-ism, fascism, socialism and any other -ism that you can think of.

But the only thing that I can agree with, it that conservatism is no longer what it used to be.

Conservatism relies on a common culture.... well that may be a challenge for this country.


Belief in conspiracy theories or rainbow unicorns have no chance of coming true.

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Are you an anarchist? Seriously, it's either anarchy and chaos OR pick your -ism. That's the sad truth about governments, period.


No really, I care about your feelings. rolleyes

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This guy is way smarter and more educated on the subject than me but...

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... and I came away thinking that conservatism is truer and more profound than ever—and that to be a conservative today, you have to oppose much of what the Republican Party has come to stand for.

I figured that out a number of years ago. In fact, I'm not even sure what the Republican party does stand for in terms of platform and agenda, they don't really seem to have one. Just a series of vague platitudes to rally around but precious little substance or actionable plans beneath them.

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Those platforms and actionable plans have been replaced by anger, victimhood, identity politics and grievance. It's been happening since the 1980's, when the Fairness Doctrine was overturned, giving rise to right-wing AM radio. A 40-year daily diet of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity has brought us to this place. As a result, there is no longer room for Rockefeller Republicans in the party's corridors of influence. The GOP now belongs to the currently unemployed ex-potus and trolls like MTG, Laurin Boebert, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar and that teenskirt-chasin' frat paddle in a suit Matt Gaetz.

If things continue in this direction, trad Republicans will have no choice but to splinter from this thuggish group of miscreants. They cannot continue like this. The metastasis is already too advanced to chemo the body GOP back to 'health.'

If this party no longer lives to true conservative principles, it should be abandoned in favor of a new party with the old ideals. Conservatives aren't fascists, and they should not have to breathe the same air. It has happened before. Perhaps now is the time for it to happen again.


.02


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Originally Posted by OldColdDawg
Are you an anarchist? Seriously, it's either anarchy and chaos OR pick your -ism. That's the sad truth about governments, period.

Absolutely not. I am anti-ideology. In other words a pragmatist. I think government should be in the best interest of the people and absent any ideology.


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Give me an example of a government with no ideology. The idea is fascinating, but I don't see how that government even forms.


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Originally Posted by WooferDawg
I think government should be in the best interest of the people and absent any ideology.

Isn't that in itself an ideology ?

And since there isn't a universal "this is the best way to serve the people of the country" system/policy/way to run government .... doesn't then come down to differences of opinion? And those differences of opinion would be defined as ... ideologies?

I'd presume everyone wants a government that puts the interest of the people as the number 1 or only agenda ... but people then have differences of opinion on what that is. Healthcare, Immigration, Taxation, Defense .... all of those have widely differing 'solutions' and opinions on what's best.

Then on top of those issues - as soon as you have large organizations and political groups/movement/agendas/parties (even when built on the principal of doing the best for the country) ... you will have corruption and people who are working to create fiefdoms and gaining/keeping power instead of working for the best interest of the country/political group/party. It's a simple fact of life. And on both/all sides of all political parties.

And then going full circle you will have mass parts of the population who will believe the propaganda and fall in line with the lies and misinformation those in Power spew - and will perpetuate the issues.

Fixing the system is probably a bigger challenge - or an impossible challenge? - but that is where the solution would seem to be. I believe any person with the best of intentions who starts a career in politics eventually either [1] Goes nowhere as they stand by their principals but do not gain the support of either party = or = [2] Become corrupted by their party in order to gain support and advance. There is not a viable third option.


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Pretty much agree with the original post and DC. I have never understood the appeal of Trump, other that that he was an "outsider" and people were fed up with how our government was working in 2016. Dude is an idiot and only cares about himself, and does not show what I consider family-values.

And DC is right - Republicans currently have no platform, other than being against whatever the Democrats are for.

For Republicans to actually be conservative, they need to be a party that promotes family-values. This should include policies like mandatory paid family-leave for fathers, policies that incentivize the nuclear family, and increased rights for fathers in custody battles.

This also includes increased funding for birth-control research and access (but not greater access to abortions), including male birth-control. Basically, we need to get to a point where abortion is no longer needed, unless the pregnancy poses a great risk to the mother, or the the baby is non-viable and in pain. If you have access to 99.99% effective birth control, and you decide not to use it and get pregnant, you need to live with the consequences. At that point, you outlaw all abortion except in cases like I mentioned above.

Border security, but not to keep people out - to keep drugs out. Fentanyl killing 100k people per year is not acceptable. We also need reform to keep people from abusing prescription drugs. Drug abuse is destroying American families.

Increased emphasis on personal responsibility. We've fallen so far from "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Actually being fiscally conservative, instead of only when you aren't in power.

An energy policy that pushes sustainable fuels and also includes nuclear fusion research. At this point, I think we need to have a Manhattan Project-style push to get this technology. Let Democrats have their outdated "green" energy.

I'd also like to see some sort of Community Improvement Initiative available for those on welfare for increased benefits. Basically being a part of a team to clean up areas in their own neighborhood. Not sure how it would work exactly, but we need something. It is embarrassing traveling to Japan, and seeing how well-kept everything is over there. Shop owners wash off the sidewalks in front of their stores every morning. Older people cleaning the parks constantly. No litter. Not sure how we can get to that level, but we need to. People need to have a sense of pride in their communities.

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Sorry Clem, you lost me in the first sentence. Victimhood and identity politics have been staples of the left since I've been alive - hard to read anything else in your post objectively when you lead with that.

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While I might not agree because I’m liberal, these are some of the traditional conservative platforms that people like me go “I might not like it but atleast it’s reasonable”.

Be nice if the GOP and conservative America got back to being reasonable. Unfortunately you guys are a dying breed. You’re being killed off and replaced by straight up right wingers.


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Originally Posted by OrangeCrush
Sorry Clem, you lost me in the first sentence. Victimhood and identity politics have been staples of the left since I've been alive - hard to read anything else in your post objectively when you lead with that.

Only they've never promoted having a coup or refusing to certify an election to take over the government. There's an obvious distinction between the two.


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Whataboutisms are neither an effective nor intelligent debate tactics.

Sorry, but when the Left actively engages in and promotes identity politics among "victim" groups for over 50 years to the point of calling anyone who doesn't follow their every wish and actively support them racist, homophobic bigots (even their own, like J.K. Rowling), what do you expect the natural reaction from the other side to be?

The natural reaction is going to be exactly what you have seen from the Right recently. The recent rise of White Nationalists groups predates the rise of Trump; it actually coincides with the rise of more extreme tactics by identity politics groups.

Identity politics based on victim status is 100% an invention of the Left; there is no debating this.

So to say that the problem with the Right is victimhood and identity politics is to basically admit the current problems in US politics are caused by the Left.

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You brought up victimhood, not me. I simply pointed out the contrast. If anyone here is trying to circumvent the actual topic of difference here it's you, not me.

But not stepping up to the plate is becoming much more expected by those who try to portray things as one sided.

You did make a great point that white national groups have been around for a long time. They just never felt embolbened by the leader of the free world before.

Playing the victimhood card has been around even before Hitler. He took every fear the German people had and found someone they could pin the blame on for their problems. We all saw what the results were.

Hitler was not a from the left.


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Clem brought up victimhood, not me. Nice try.

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Sorry about that. You just engaged in it and then blamed me for whataboutism when I did the exact same thing. Nice try.


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Explaining why victimhood and identity politics is not a problem of the Right, as was brought up by Clem = staying on topic

Bringing up a whataboutisms about Jan 6th = not staying on topic

Not sure I can make it any clearer for you. Staying on topic has never been your strong point.

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Originally Posted by OrangeCrush
Sorry Clem, you lost me in the first sentence. Victimhood and identity politics have been staples of the left since I've been alive - hard to read anything else in your post objectively when you lead with that.

So you blame victimhood on the left and I point out how dictators since well before 50 years ago used the victimhood card and you claim I'm not staying on topic? You claim pointing out victimhood being used as a weapon by a president to embolden white supremacists is not a part of the topic?

You brought up the blame game, not me. Trying to silence those who disagree with you by making silly accusations won't work.


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Clem brought up victimhood, not me. Nice try.


It's true for the Right, as well. I didn't think I had to play the "equal time" game while making my points.

White grievance
War on Christmas/religion
"Cancel culture"
Liberal media bias

It's all there. And please understand that I don't disagree with your points. Both can be true at the same time.


I'd ask you to get past the opening line of my post and comment on the other observations. I've read lots of your stuff. I'm sure you can be objective.


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I agree with a lot of what you are saying. As a person who considered himself a republican for a long time... then started distancing myself from that label in favor of being a "conservative".. now it seems that they have co-opted both of those words I don't really want to be associated with either of them any more.

Clem says the downfall of the Republican party started in the 80s.. could be. I've traced my starting point back to 1992, which is the first time I can find any reference to the notion of a "RINO".. which, as it gained popular favor, has forced republicans to move farther right than they wanted to or leave the party. The notion of moderate republicans as "RINOs" has fractured the party significantly. The farther right side of the party (the Trump side) has spent more effort in distancing themselves from decent men like John McCain and Mitt Romney than they have ever spent distancing themselves from the Klan and the gun toting militias.. In fact, they have embraced much of the latter and made it the symbol of what it means to be a mainstream republican...

As the original article points out, old school conservatism was about compassion, it was about charity, it was about having a moral compass while operating in a free economy and a free society. Doing the right thing is something you were just supposed to do, not something you needed to be mandated to do... somewhere along the line, this notion of morality, charity, and decency became inexorably linked to, and synonymous with, being a white Christian... this new version of republicanism decided that white Christians had these traits almost as a birth (and baptism) right but everybody else was questionable and they had to prove themselves worthy... blacks, latinos, gays, asians can all be invited in but they must first prove themselves, white christians get a standing invitation to the cookout.

And lastly, the republican party hasn't really stood for any kind of political platform or had a serious agenda since before Barack Obama was President. Since then they have just been the party of obstruction and defiance. Perhaps that's because McCain and Romney tried to have a more moderate platform and they got such lukewarm support from the entire right side of the republican party, and got crushed in the elections, that the party ultimately decided that being adults and having a defensible platform to try to win hearts and minds of the American people was a bad idea.... and that emotional, angry rhetoric and winging it was a better plan. Multiple republicans are on tape saying in no uncertain terms that they view their role in politics as just defeating everything the democrats want to do.... which I'm fine with if you are defeating it because you have a better plan, but just to obstruct it with no other plan of your own to tackle some of the serious issues we have is just stupid.

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What did I just see? Oh yeah, MIC DROP!


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DC, mark the date on your calendar because we agree on something!


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Extremely well said. My thoughts exactly.


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The two most significant events are Rush Limbaugh getting nationally syndicated in 1986, and Fox News on cable in 1994.


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Fox News definitely had an impact. They steered the ship way to the right, too. I remember they started out with Hannity and Colmbs and now it’s just Hannity going on crazy monologues to the camera.


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Agree. See my comments earlier in the thread.


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Originally Posted by dawglover05
Fox News definitely had an impact. They steered the ship way to the right, too. I remember they started out with Hannity and Colmbs and now it’s just Hannity going on crazy monologues to the camera.


I remember that show. It was a vehicle for Hannity to shout over and bully Alan. It was almost as if it was scripted for Alan to toss up weak-sounding left softballs that Sean got to knock into McCovey cove on a daily basis. I used to hear them on my commute. I didn't stick with that show for very long. Nothing very satisfying about a one-way convo disguised as a good-faith debate.


.02


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Originally Posted by dawglover05
Fox News definitely had an impact. They steered the ship way to the right, too. I remember they started out with Hannity and Colmbs and now it’s just Hannity going on crazy monologues to the camera.


I remember that show. It was a vehicle for Hannity to shout over and bully Alan. It was almost as if it was scripted for Alan to toss up weak-sounding left softballs that Sean got to knock into McCovey cove on a daily basis. I used to hear them on my commute. I didn't stick with that show for very long. Nothing very satisfying about a one-way convo disguised as a good-faith debate.


.02


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Originally Posted by OldColdDawg
Give me an example of a government with no ideology. The idea is fascinating, but I don't see how that government even forms.

The problem is not government per-se. The problem is the people that are in it.

We elect ideological lemmings that tow the ideology in absolute servitude to the party.

Gone are the days of a moderate republican, or the dixiecrats.

Or a fiscally conservative democrat, a republican that accepts abortion, or thinks military spending should be cut, or any one that can compromise.

You sign up and are part of the team, and make apologies or ignore the wingnuts on the far side.

We are no longer We the people, it's Us versus Them.

I yearn for the purple party, but it is not going to happen. The parties have gerrymandered their existence into perpetuity. The know where their members live down to the zip code, probably even further, and they choose their voters, not the other way around.


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There are some very rare exceptions but otherwise I agree with you.


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That is a good response. I think I answered it with my rant against the political parties. People can have differences of ideas, as long as they are not part of a political party.


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Originally Posted by Clemdawg
Originally Posted by dawglover05
Fox News definitely had an impact. They steered the ship way to the right, too. I remember they started out with Hannity and Colmbs and now it’s just Hannity going on crazy monologues to the camera.


I remember that show. It was a vehicle for Hannity to shout over and bully Alan. It was almost as if it was scripted for Alan to toss up weak-sounding left softballs that Sean got to knock into McCovey cove on a daily basis. I used to hear them on my commute. I didn't stick with that show for very long. Nothing very satisfying about a one-way convo disguised as a good-faith debate.


.02

Oh it definitely was. At least he felt the need to feign some level of balance. Now it’s not even needed. I remember he also tried to engage people like Howard Dean back then during the election campaigns. Howard Dean definitely had his own issues, but he handed Sean’s ass to him during that conversation.


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Any semi smart lib that Hannity or Tucker interviews seem to hand them their asses. That's how weak their positions are and how weak their actually belief in the things they spew really are. You know damn good and well Tucker doesn't personally believe half of what he says. He's just whipping up the gullible base, and he knows it. That's the truly sad part of the whole Faux News saga. The perpetrators don't even believe in the republican cause, they do it for the power and money. I believe Tucker now has his own political aspirations, so he has become specifically dangerous in his rhetoric. Then, when confronted, wants to act like it's just an entertainment show… rolleyes

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You know damn good and well Tucker doesn't personally believe half of what he says. He's just whipping up the gullible base, and he knows it.

I disagree. He's been the same POS for years.
Tucker, through the years

The article is too long to cut/paste, but it's only one click away.

You're wrong about this.
Dead wrong.

On the content of the rest of your post: could be. I know that Meghan Kelly tried to re-invent herself after leaving, so it's entirely possible that she was just a paid actor for the network. But Tucker Carlson? Nope. He is as advertised.


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Ideologies are always changing to adapt to new social environments. Conservatism has changed almost, as much as, liberalism. Both parties became so extreme that they are just plain trash.

As liberals started attacking and persecuting Christians and trying to remove Christian values from society the only recourse was for conservatives to become more extreme in response. After all one of the main goals of a conservative is to preserve society norms/morality. So liberals did what they could to destroy social norms so they would have nothing to defend. It worked. So what do conservatives have left to defend?

Christian values? Gone. Family values? Gone. Women are free to sleep around with as many partners as they want and have children with as many men as they want and it's encouraged by the government since single mothers are rewarded with more aid than married mothers. If your poor you better get a divorce if you need aid or the kids might starve. You can't have a healthy society with children not being raised by both parents. Suicide rates, crime rates, and poverty are all astronomically higher for people who grow up in broken homes. But hey we have progress right? I mean in some states like Hawaii you can marry your dog or horse now. It's not even illegal at the federal level. In California you can marry a nine year old girl. Isn't California so progressive? We have grown men walking into women's changing restrooms and flashing little girls as previously convicted pedophiles but hey if they say they are trans then it's perfectly ok now. Conservatives have nothing left to save. It's GONE. Now your going to see a party shape up to fight against the insanity because it's gone too darn far like a rubber band snapping back.

Being liberal used to mean fighting for the freedom of others. I grew up liberal with both my parents hardcore democrats. I really admired them for fighting for women's rights and for genuine equality among the races and ethnicities. Then it became the avenue for lawyers to sue, sue, sue on behalf of minority extremists. There are a lot of rich lawyers in the democratic party. It become so profitable to sue for every little cause that it stopped mattering what the majority of people felt or wanted. The goal was not to represent the majority like a democracy is supposed to do but to pick up every single extreme cause that would would garner successful lawsuits. They even rewrote many laws so that their lawyer buddies could sue even more and make more money.

Both parties are now the party of Lawyers making money at the expense of how much suffering they can cause to the point people just give up when threatened with a lawsuit because they know they can't afford their own lawyers to fight against them. It's a race to see which party can out sue the other party. Both parties are flat out revolting.

There is not a single person in congress or the senate a young American can look up to and say that person is a positive role model. Tulsi Gabbard (Democrat) was the last one I had a good opinion of but she quit congress after being disgusted by it. We sure haven't had a president that people can look up to for decades now. Democrat this, Republican this, yet they are almost all lawyers making laws so that lawyers keep making tons of money by suing everything in site. Then they just feed a load of bull to justify it so the ignorant just keep letting it happen. Meanwhile most of us have no clue what laws are in place and probably break have a dozen a month without even knowing it. That's ok though because you will still need to hire a lawyer to tell you how you screwed up and you better pay up or else ...

There are a growing number of people like myself that are FED UP with the moral depravity the country is sinking into and who hate both parties dearly. Why is Trump so insanely popular? 1 and most importantly he is not a lawyer or a professional politician. That alone is enough for many people. The fact that traditional conservatives hate Trump as much as Liberals do is another reason people love him. Why? Because people are moderate and can easily vote for either party if there is a candidate they like. Trump is still the ONLY president to never start a war. He countries to talk about peace. He brought more peace to the middle east than ANY other president before him. Which is why he was nominated 3 different times by OTHER countries for the Nobel peace prize. Love him or hate him the man got good results. The world is certainly far worse off with Biden that is for sure and far closer to the brink of ww3.

What I would love to see is a new party altogether. One with moderate values that seeks the benefit of the majority instead of pandering to less than 1% of the population just because they make so much money off the lawsuits. I myself am a bit of a socialist when it comes to healthcare and education but conservative when it comes to letting businesses be free to make money, so long as, they don't harm the environment or exploit people to do it. I would love that party to be anti-corporation and work to ban lobbyist donations to all parties. I would love to see a flat tax for all people and businesses with no loopholes. There are many things I have mixed opinions about but at least with these I am certain it would be good to accomplish. God help us all, because we surly won't save ourselves.


You can't fix stupid but you can destroy ignorance. When you destroy ignorance you remove the justifications for evil. If you want to destroy evil then educate our people. Hate is a tool of the stupid to deal with what they can't understand.
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Originally Posted by Clemdawg
Quote
You know damn good and well Tucker doesn't personally believe half of what he says. He's just whipping up the gullible base, and he knows it.

I disagree. He's been the same POS for years.
Tucker, through the years

The article is too long to cut/paste, but it's only one click away.

You're wrong about this.
Dead wrong.

On the content of the rest of your post: could be. I know that Meghan Kelly tried to re-invent herself after leaving, so it's entirely possible that she was just a paid actor for the network. But Tucker Carlson? Nope. He is as advertised.

I'll take your word for it, Clem. All I'm saying is that some of the conspiracy theory crap that comes out of his mouth on air is all the way wackadoodle. He's too smart to actually believe it. I heard him talk on other shows, and he can be a reasonable person, or at least he played one well. I would never trust a thing he says anyway, so it really doesn't matter.


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