Because life is a series of edits

The Problem with Neo-Conservativism

In Politics on October 10, 2008 at 11:32 am

David Brooks hits the nail on the head as to what’s wrong with the neo-conservatism of the past decade (and why John McCain is going to lose the election in November):

“Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.”

I’m not trying to simplify this election into one big class warfare; the Republicans are already doing it. Who have McCain’s “scare” ads targeted this fall? The under-educated audiences who will be afraid of them. Who is Sarah Palin recruiting to send her to Washington? The “Joe Sixpacks” and “hockey moms” of America.

“What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect. Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.”

Sure, I like the idea of so-called “normal” (or “more normal”) people going to Washington on our behalf, but has conservatism come to this kind of intellectual-less existence? If so, let’s vote and get the election over (though I think it’s over already).

Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat, populism can only go so far.

It’s the ideas, stupid.

  1. Craig, hate to disagree with both you and Brooks, but this isn’t anything new. Conservatism in the 20th and 21st century has generally been a grass-roots, “average joe” movement. Yes, Conservatives have had their Buckley’s, et al, but it’s not been a true intellectual movement. One can look to the Cold War era, particularly during the post-WW2 through 1962ish time frame, to see that.

  2. No need to apologize, Bobby, and please don’t hear me calling conservatism a “true intellectual movement.” Buckley was probably the closest conservatives came, though I hope Brooks continues in his footsteps.

    It just seems to me that, especially within the past eight years (“strategery” anyone?), conservatives have jettisoned almost ANY pursuit of even appearing intellectually able in favor of just trying to fit in and keep up with the NASCAR crowd. From my vantage point here – in the good old Midwest – that strategy is about to run out of gas.

  3. Craig,
    I don’t know if you have heard any of the James Skillen lectures from last weekend or if they are even up on the web yet, but talk about hitting the nail on the head! He basically got down to the very roots of American politics as they have developed and also offered a very reasoned alternative. You should definitely take a listen when it is available.

  4. Appreciate the recommendation, Peach, but I’m not sure when I’LL be available. Can you give us a summary or brief outline? Unfortunately, I’m more interested than able these days.

  5. C- nice post. are you going to vote for ron paul in the general election as you did in the primary?

  6. I want to, but Paul himself is discouraging people from doing that, so I probably won’t.

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