Sunday, May 1, 2016

The American People are Conservative, but the Conservative Politicians Aren't.

Some things are painfully obvious to old coots such as me, but pretty opaque to the younglings, so I have to remind myself that some such things have to be explained over and over again.

One of these things is that words have changed their meaning, and, as a result, people spend a lot of time talkng past each other.

"Liberal," "libertarian," and "conservative" have all changed meaning over the last few decades, but in this post I'll deal with "conservative." The changing meaning just came up on the net, in a discussion over whether Trump is a conservative or not.

People of a certain age, like me, think of Barry Goldwater as the definition of conservative. Those somewhat younger will think of Reagan. A definite difference. Those yet younger will think of Dubya Bush and Cruz. In my mind, those two are practically the opposite of Goldwater.

When I say, or think, "conservative," I mean a believer in government no bigger or more powerful than necessary, but big and powerful enough to do what government is supposed to do — maintain a dependable system of justice, defend the country against foreign attack, and keep foreigners from wandering across the border willy-nilly and doing whatever they damn please. And it also means a "mind your own business" government attitude that doesn't crusade around the world like a Marvel superhero, bollixing everything up under the guise of righting wrongs. It means not socially-engineering at home or abroad. It means not changing for the sake of change, but being prudent about new ideas and trying things out before committing the whole damn country to them. And it means being very skeptical of any and all "politically correct' notions. And patriotism. Patriotism is definitely an essential part of it.

That's conservatism, and that's pretty much the way most Americans — old stock Americans, not newly arrived Somalis and Jihadists — are. But the people who the MAG (Media, Academia, Government) consider "consevatives" are mostly quite happy with social engineering of all kinds, wars all over the goddam place, political correctness in all things, welcoming detritus from the whole damn world to move in and sign up for freebies, and, basically, being slightly less liberal about everything than self-ideniified liberals are.

Vox Day [link] talks about the subject, quoting Jerry Pournelle and Peggy Noonan, and explaining why Donald Trump actually is conservative, like most Americansa, while Cruz, etc., are more like the opposite.

All ur base no longer belongs 2 u

Jerry Pournelle reflects upon Peggy Noonan's dawning horror that the Republican base is no longer what passes for conservative:
“Those conservative writers and thinkers who have for nine months warned the base that Mr. Trump is not a conservative should consider the idea that a large portion of the Republican base no longer sees itself as conservative, at least as that term has been defined the past 15 years by Washington writers and thinkers.” 

The Second Gulf War saw us invading Iraq in response to the al Qaeda attack on New York, although there was zero evidence that Saddam had anything to do with it. Then came Afghanistan. In each case we sent just enough to do the job, but not overwhelming force to achieve victory – likely impossible in Afghanistan unless we were prepared for decades of occupation, and given the Soviet experience even that was likely to be arduous. All of this seemed to be destroying monsters, not protecting the liberty of the American people.

Some of us said so at the time. The response from National Review, once (when under Bill Buckley) the voice of the American Conservative Movement, was to feature the Egregious Frum reading out of the Conservative Movement all those who did not enthusiastically support the invasion of Iraq. Since that time I have not been “a conservative”. Paleo-conservative, perhaps; one who believes Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk have much to teach us; yes. But officially not a conservative according to National Review. Since I am not one of them by their own account, having been read out of their movement, I have no obligation to defend their policies – not that I ever defended all of them; after all, they did read me out of their ranks because I opposed the long war in Mesopotamia, did not think we could build democracy in a “nation” composed of Kurds, Shia majority, and Sunni, and ruled by Baathists, and thought we had no business expending blood and treasure when we had no describable national interests.

Trump’s people think the same way: patriotism trumps ideology. That is, of course, a very conservative principle, or was when I was teaching political science; apparently it is not so now. Miss Noonan sees it; I doubt the neoconservatives who have become to leaders of the conservative Movement will understand, or care; but perhaps the American voters will. Reagan was no ideologue, and he won. True: Trump is no Reagan; but you know, Mr. Reagan was not always Ronald the Great either. But he was always a patriot. 
At 81, Dr. Pournelle is still far sharper than the average bear. He's pointing out something very important that has escaped nearly every political commentator, including me, which is that for decades, beginning with the John Birch Society, conservatives have been reading people out of the conservative movement.

And now, they have read so many people out of conservatism that the movement is no longer, in any practical sense of the term, a popular movement anymore. I'm an alt right figurehead, but I'm no conservative. Jerry is an old school Cold Warrior, but he's no conservative. From Ann Coulter to John Derbyshire to Mark Steyn to Paul Craig Roberts, the best intellects of the right are all ex-conservatives.

And now the Republican base, has realized that they, too, have been effectively read out. Just as the Democratic Party left Ronald Reagan, conservatism has left the Republican grass roots behind.
Quibcag: One of the best quotes from one of the best conservatives, illustrated by the girls from Little Witch Academia (リトルウィッチアカデミアRitoru Witchi Akademia)


  1. Any mother fu*ker who still believes or promotes the "Idea" that radicle Islam did 9-11 deserves neither respect or attention. If you are still to stupid to realize 9-11 was a MOSSAD operation backed by the Neo-Cons in the US government, you are to stupid to speak on the subject!!!

  2. People of a certain age, like me, think of Barry Goldwater as the definition of conservative.

    The paragraph begun with that sentence and the two subsequent are eminently quotable. I'm grabbing them for that purpose, suitably attributed.