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Counterculture Conservatism

How to revive the flagging fortunes of the Republican Party might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled conservatives. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task. Tune in Fox News or pick up the latest issue of National Review or the Weekly Standard and you’ll find them, yelping, whining, and fingering our recently reelected president as the Antichrist.

Conservatives who prefer thinking to venting—those confident that a republic able to survive eight years of George W. Bush can probably survive eight years of Barack Obama—confront a question of a different order. To wit: does authentic American conservatism retain any political viability in this country in the present age? That is, does homegrown conservatism have any lingering potential for gaining and exercising power at the local, state, or national levels? Or has history consigned the conservative tradition—as it has Marxism—to a status where even if holding some residual utility as an analytical tool, it no longer possesses value as a basis for practical action?

To which a properly skeptical reader may respond, perhaps reaching for a sidearm: exactly whose conservative tradition are you referring to, bucko?

Well, I’ll admit to prejudices, so let me lay them out.

(Fans of Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman will want to stop reading here and flip to the next article. If Ronald Reagan’s your hero, sorry—you won’t like what’s coming. Ditto regarding Ron Paul. And if in search of wisdom you rely on anyone whose byline appears regularly in any publication owned by Rupert Murdoch, well, you’ve picked up the wrong magazine.)

The conservative tradition I have in mind may not satisfy purists. It doesn’t rise to the level of qualifying as anything so grandiose as a coherent philosophy. It’s more of a stew produced by combining sundry ingredients. The result, to use a word that ought warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, is a sort of an intellectual slumgullion.

Here’s the basic recipe. As that stew’s principal ingredients, start with generous portions of John Quincy Adams and his grandson Henry. Fold in ample amounts of Randolph Bourne, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Christopher Lasch. For seasoning, throw in some Flannery O’Connor and Wendell Berry—don’t skimp. If you’re in a daring mood, add a dash of William Appleman Williams. To finish, sprinkle with Frank Capra—use a light hand: too sweet and the concoction’s ruined. Cook slowly. (Microwave not allowed.) What you get is a dish that is as nutritious as it is tasty.

This updated conservative tradition consists of several complementary propositions:

As human beings, our first responsibility lies in stewardship, preserving our common inheritance and protecting that which possesses lasting value. This implies an ability to discriminate between what is permanent and what is transient, between what ought to endure and what is rightly destined for the trash heap. Please note this does not signify opposition to all change—no standing athwart history, yelling Stop—but fostering change that enhances rather than undermines that which qualifies as true.

Conservatives, therefore, are skeptical of anything that smacks of utopianism. They resist seduction by charlatans peddling the latest Big Idea That Explains Everything. This is particularly the case when that Big Idea entails launching some armed crusade abroad. Conservatives respect received wisdom. The passage of time does not automatically render irrelevant the dogmas to which our forebears paid heed. George Washington was no dope.

In private life and public policy alike, there exists a particular category of truths that grown-ups and grown-up governments will respectfully acknowledge. For conservatives this amounts to mere common sense. Actions have consequences. Privileges entail responsibility. There is no free lunch. At day’s end, accounts must balance. Sooner or later, the piper will be paid. Only the foolhardy or the willfully reckless will attempt to evade these fundamental axioms.

Conservatives take human relationships seriously and know that they require nurturing. In community lies our best hope of enjoying a meaningful earthly existence. But community does not emerge spontaneously. Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault, from both left and right. Emphasizing autonomy, the forces of modernity are intent on supplanting the family with the hyper-empowered—if also alienated—individual, who exists to gratify appetite and ambition. With its insatiable hunger for profit, the market is intent on transforming the family into a cluster of consumers who just happen to live under the same roof. One more thing: conservatives don’t confuse intimacy with sex.

All of that said, conservatives also believe in Original Sin, by whatever name. They know, therefore, that the human species is inherently ornery and perverse. Hence, the imperative to train and educate young people in the norms governing civilized behavior. Hence, too, the need to maintain appropriate mechanisms to restrain and correct the wayward who resist that training or who through their own misconduct prove themselves uneducable.

Conversely, conservatives are wary of concentrated power in whatever form. The evil effects of Original Sin are nowhere more evident than in Washington, on Wall Street, or in the executive suites of major institutions, sadly including churches and universities. So conservatives reject the argument that correlates centralization with efficiency and effectiveness. In whatever realm, they favor the local over the distant. Furthermore, although conservatives are not levelers, they believe that a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth—property held in private hands—offers the surest safeguard against Leviathan. A conservative’s America is a nation consisting of freeholders, not of plutocrats and proletarians.

Finally, conservatives love and cherish their country. But they do not confuse country with state. They know that America is not its military, nor any of the innumerable three-lettered agencies comprising the bloated national-security apparatus. America is amber waves of grain, not SEAL Team Six.

Given such a perspective, American conservatives cannot view the current condition of their country and their culture with anything but dismay. Yet apart from mourning, what can they do about it?

My vote is for taking a page from the playbook of our brethren on the radical left. Remember the “long march through the institutions”? It’s time to mobilize a countercultural march in an entirely different direction.

Conservatism—the genuine article, not the phony brand represented by the likes of Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, or Grover Norquist—has now become the counterculture. This is a mantle that committed conservatives should happily claim. That mantle confers opportunity. It positions conservatives to formulate a compelling critique of a status quo that few responsible Americans view as satisfactory or sustainable.

Put simply, the task facing conservatives is to engineer a change in the zeitgeist through patient, incremental, and thoughtful action. Effecting such a change presents a formidable challenge, one likely to entail decades of effort. Yet the task is not an impossible one. Consider the astonishing successes achieved just since the 1960s by left-leaning proponents of women’s rights and gay rights. There’s the model.

The key to success will be to pick the right fights against the right enemies, while forging smart tactical alliances. (By tactical, I do not mean cynical.) Conservatives need to discriminate between the issues that matter and those that don’t, the contests that can be won and those that can’t. And they need to recognize that the political left includes people of goodwill whose views on some (by no means all) matters coincide with our own.

So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.

Instead, the new conservative agenda should emphasize the following:

[1]Who knows, perhaps in 2016 or 2020 the existing Republican Party’s formula of protecting the well-to-do and promoting endless war while paying lip-service to traditional values and pandering to the Israel lobby will produce electoral success. But I doubt it. And even if the party does make a comeback on that basis, the conservative cause itself won’t prosper. Reviving that cause will require a different formula altogether.

Now you’ve got my ideas. Perhaps you have better ones. If so, I’d be interested to hear them.

Andrew J. Bacevich teaches at Boston University. An updated edition of his book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War [2] will appear this spring.

124 Comments (Open | Close)

124 Comments To "Counterculture Conservatism"

#1 Comment By kurt On February 14, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

As a left-leaning college student, and a recent devotee of the American Conservative, I’d like say how much I enjoyed this article and the magazine in general. I appreciate, more than I can express, opposing viewpoints that are well thought-out and argued well. I don’t see myself becoming conservative but I wouldn’t be too surprised if I changed my position on how to solve some ofthe many problems facing our country.

#2 Comment By MKC On February 15, 2013 @ 6:26 am

I think you present a compelling argument. I think, though, it is more accurate to say that libertarianism is the new counter culture. I think the most compelling ideas you present are consistent with that position.

#3 Comment By delia ruhe On February 15, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Now, there’s a conservatism that I, a life-long Leftie, could fruitfully debate with — the operative word here being “fruitfully.”

#4 Comment By Liberty721 On February 15, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

Can we espouse “protecting the environment” and at the same time, defang an out-of-control EPA at state and federal levels? These bureaucrats and do-gooders, educated to believe that ALL BIG BUSINESS MUST POLLUTE, are now in positions to control, deny, and otherwise hinder legitimate growth and opportunities by making a company prove that it won’t “do harm” to an endless list of flora, fauna, and atmospheric candidates deemed (by the agency, of course) as “sensitive.” This point seems lost on the current left wing environmentalists. Their “protection” is ultimately destructive of the power that would really be instrumental in providing true protection. Companies conserve because it is in their best fiancial interest to do so, not because they give two figs for a snail darter.

#5 Comment By T Clark On February 16, 2013 @ 9:12 am

Hey, no fair. I thought I would be the only liberal saying I appreciate Mr. Bacevich’s thoughtfulness. Reading articles like this reminds me of an important rhetorical principle – if you find things to agree with with your adversaries and treat them with respect, you will have the intellectual and moral standing to influence them on issues where you disagree. I have been proselytizing to my liberal friends about American Conservative for a while now. I sent them a link to this article.

Question – I understand resistance to sticking our noses into Syria and Libya, but what about Rwanda and Cambodia.

#6 Comment By Jonathan On February 18, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

I think that those commentors that are outraged by the authors suggestion to leave the fight of abortion and same sex marriage alone, are missing his point on ‘core conservatism’.

An more effective strategy in reducing abortions is not legislation (which isn’t a very conservative answer to anything), but to address the reason people are having abortions- poverty, lack of access to birth control, and an uneducated adolescence.

Conservatives need to work on a solutions based approach to problems, not the wild eyed reactionary face they always show. The authors point about getting labor wages up to support ‘traditional family’ is a fine example.

#7 Comment By Eric On February 18, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

So please explain how your “new conservatism” is different than a moderte democrat agenda? Seems you are only proposing conservatism that does not offend the extreme left yet does not differentiate from moderate democrat thinking except a tight fiscal house. You are for environmentalism but say nothing about the trade off of economic viability, does “live within” mean isolationism (been there before), and bullets 4 and 5 are related. We have taken Christian-Judeo ethics out of public school and the government (do not kill, love your neighbor, respect your parents) and wonder why we have problems. I guess becoming ademocrat is “new conservatism.”

#8 Comment By cs On February 18, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

Good article but what if we don’t have decades? It seems as if a very large war is coming.

#9 Comment By Max On February 19, 2013 @ 7:18 am

Eric, you’ve either missed the point, or you don’t understand the tenants of traditional conservatism as espoused by Edmund Burke. The modern Republican Party is barely conservative in the true sense of the word. The party’s ideology is, for the most part, based around corporate influence, classical liberalism (a-la laissez-faire), and sprinkled with some traditionalist values. Believe it or not, there are some conservatives who are not consumed with worry about economic viability. Now, this doesn’t mean that they are in favor of redistribution, especially to the level undertaken by Mr. Obama.

#10 Comment By john On February 20, 2013 @ 7:35 am

Ayn Rand had no real feeling for what America or American conservatism was about, and should never be included in anyone’s definition of Conservatism. When Howard Roark, in The Fountainhead reveals himself by stating “…and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at he end of no tradition. I may perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.” he reveals himself as a psychopath who has no attachment to any common inheritance, or to any community of mankind. And this is the Paul Ryan conservatism completely divorced from traditional conservative values that the Tea Party has brought to the Republican Party. The grand old party of Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft is dead and conservatives must look for a new home. This is particularly true with regard to the embrace of a non-interventionist, America first, foreign policy an expansion of liberties at home, loyalty to family and community, and a recognition of a common culture that is both flexible and yet worth preserving.

#11 Comment By andrea On March 2, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

Here’s the problem with ‘conservatism as the new counterculture’.

The original counterculture wasn’t really that countercultural, if by ‘counterculture’ one means resistance to the powers that be. The so-called counterculture had much support from old liberals and MSM that helped it along. Woodstock got favorable press.

So, even though the liberal Establishment–that ran the media and academia–didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with the 60s radicals, hippies, and eccentrics, it was still favorable and friendly toward social change and valued counterculture as a force to be used against Nixon and American conservatism. So, the original counterculture gained from a lot of sympathy and support from the Establishment.
And the so-called ‘long march through the institutions’ wasn’t really much of a struggle. Liberal professors were only too willing to pave the way for leftist professors of the boomer generation. There was no real fight. The red carpet was laid down for the boomer radicals to inherit the power from old liberals.
Similarly, the mainstream media and the liberal establishment were on the side of the black movement, feminist movement, and ‘gay rights’ movement. Much of this owed to the Establishment, media, and academia being ruled by Jews, liberal wasps, and leftists. While these people disdained the impatience and wildness of boomer counterculture, they were also happy to see a new generation abandoning the vestiges of conservatism and old America.
So, the boomer takeover of the institutions was less a long march than a smooth slide.

In contrast, even if there were to be a viable conservative counter-culture, the Establishment in the media and academia would do everything to prevent its rise. If powerful liberals in the academia and media once enabled the rise of boomer radicals, there aren’t enough powerful conservatives in media and academia to do the same thing for aspiring counterculture conservatives. Counterculture conservatives have no sponsors in powerful places.

Also, given that the current religion among young people is MLK, anti-racism, holy gay, and Holocaust worship, not many young people wanna be associated with the Right. So, the Right fails to attract people of quality.

#12 Comment By John Lofton On March 7, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

Here’s an interview I did with Bacevich; might interest you:

A Memorial Day Discussion: What God Says About War; The Founders Fear Of Standing Armies; An Interview With Andrew Bacevich

[3]

John Lofton, Recovering Republican
Editor, JohnLofton.com
Also: Archive.TheAmericanView.com
Active Facebook Wall
[4]

#13 Comment By tom On March 17, 2013 @ 1:43 am

not only did i get thru this article,but read it twice…thoughtful and reponsible..i really like the idea of not blaming…there is too much time and effort spent blaming when we should be exploring…you don’t have to be stuck to be conservative. we all need room enough…and sir your article gives us that…thank you

#14 Comment By LEB On January 1, 2014 @ 8:52 am

There is much to agree with in this article. However, to suggest that conservatives should just forget about abortion and gay marriage is ludicrous. Conserving the innocent lives of the unborn and the traditional family is less important than conserving trees?

#15 Comment By William On April 10, 2014 @ 9:03 am

I think you are on the right track…if conservatism is to be made palatable to a majority of voters, the inherent values must be emphasized, like self-reliance and a non-aggressive military. But where you are dead wrong, and a bit contradictory, is in your relinquishment of the health care system to government control, and looming insolvency. If you believe in balanced budgets and that debt is harmful, it will be necessary to take back healthcare from the incompetents in Washington.

#16 Comment By Harry On October 26, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

Well said! IMHO, the program laid our could just as well be labelled “progressive” if you are into labels.

#17 Comment By William Dalton On October 26, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

“Conversely, conservatives are wary of concentrated power in whatever form. The evil effects of Original Sin are nowhere more evident than in Washington, on Wall Street, or in the executive suites of major institutions, sadly including churches and universities. So conservatives reject the argument that correlates centralization with efficiency and effectiveness. In whatever realm, they favor the local over the distant.”

“So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.”

I was first attracted to Ron Paul, nor because he is identified as a Libertarian, but because he was saying the same things as other anti-war conservatives, like Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran and Charley Reese. And Andrew Bacevich shows many of these same conservative impulses, particularly in his acknowledgment of the dire qualities of centralization which are destructive of liberty and good order. At the most basic level, this implies a respect for American Constitutionalism, particularly the framework of the U.S. Constitution which created a Federal Republic, one which allowed very limited and enumerated powers to be exercised by that United States government.

Both at that elemental level of Federalism, but even more at that philosophical level of the preferential option for local government, Bacevich’s resignation to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, even Obamacare, at least as we know them, makes no sense. The military machine and the financial engine aside, these are the largest elements of a national government which has far exceeded its bounds, and, especially, which have sucked all the life out of the economy, all the room for the states, not to mention localities, to construct and operate their own social policies.

Alone among conservatives and libertarians, and that stance which brings them together rather than drives them apart, Ron Paul, a firm believer in the right to life and traditional marriage, still adheres to the first principle that, as important as these issues are to building a healthy society, the Constitution reserves to the states, and denies to the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, any and all authority to make or unmake any legislation which permits or forbids abortion, which gives or denies legal recognition to gay relationships as marriages.

This was the voice of conservatism in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when Medicare was enacted, when Roe v. Wade was handed down, the voice of Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Ronald Reagan, the voice which brought into the Republican Party such States’ Rights Democrats as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, and was the voice to which Ron Paul hearkened when he first entered politics.

If there is to be any hope of creating the social and political structure which Bacevich envisions, the deconstruction of the American welfare state is central to the project. This doesn’t mean these programs and institutions must be destroyed in toto. It does mean that their ties to the government in Washington, to fund, to administer, and to legislate, must by cut entirely. The States, individually, or in compact, may choose to take on these social responsibilities, even to devolve them to cities and localities, as they decide is best for them and their citizens. They may choose to do what they wish with abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in the schools – with health, education and welfare altogether, at least on their “entitlements” level. But it is in this area, together with the construction of the military-industrial-national security complex, that the American government has grown beyond the bounds of law and good reason, and which has made it the greatest threat to the survival of the Republic and the freedoms of the American people. No political platform which doesn’t recognize and promise to deal with this need can call itself conservative and be true to the conservative tradition.

#18 Comment By William Dalton On October 26, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

“Conversely, conservatives are wary of concentrated power in whatever form. The evil effects of Original Sin are nowhere more evident than in Washington, on Wall Street, or in the executive suites of major institutions, sadly including churches and universities. So conservatives reject the argument that correlates centralization with efficiency and effectiveness. In whatever realm, they favor the local over the distant.”

“So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.”

I was first attracted to Ron Paul, not because he is identified as a Libertarian, but because he was saying the same things as other anti-war conservatives, like Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran and Charley Reese. And Andrew Bacevich shows many of these same conservative impulses, particularly in his acknowledgment of the dire qualities of centralization which are destructive of liberty and good order. At the most basic level, this implies a respect for American Constitutionalism, particularly the framework of the U.S. Constitution which created a Federal Republic, one which allowed very limited and enumerated powers to be exercised by that United States government.

Both at that elemental level of Federalism, but even more at that philosophical level of the preferential option for local government, Bacevich’s resignation to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, even Obamacare, at least as we know them, makes no sense. The military machine and the financial engine aside, these are the largest elements of a national government which has far exceeded its bounds, and, especially, which have sucked all the life out of the economy, all the room for the states, not to mention localities, to construct and operate their own social policies.

Alone among conservatives and libertarians, and that stance which brings them together rather than drives them apart, Ron Paul, a firm believer in the right to life and traditional marriage, still adheres to the first principle that, as important as these issues are to building a healthy society, the Constitution reserves to the states, and denies to the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, any and all authority to make or unmake any legislation which permits or forbids abortion, which gives or denies legal recognition to gay relationships as marriages.

This was the voice of conservatism in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when Medicare was enacted, when Roe v. Wade was handed down, the voice of Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Ronald Reagan, the voice which brought into the Republican Party such States’ Rights Democrats as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, and was the voice to which Ron Paul hearkened when he first entered politics.

If there is to be any hope of creating the social and political structure which Bacevich envisions, the deconstruction of the American welfare state is central to the project. This doesn’t mean these programs and institutions must be destroyed in toto. It does mean that their ties to the government in Washington, to fund, to administer, and to legislate, must by cut entirely. The States, individually, or in compact, may choose to take on these social responsibilities, even to devolve them to cities and localities, as they decide is best for them and their citizens. They may choose to do what they wish with abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in the schools – with health, education and welfare altogether, at least on their “entitlements” level. But it is in this area, together with the construction of the military-industrial-national security complex, that the American government has grown beyond the bounds of law and good reason, and which has made it the greatest threat to the survival of the Republic and the freedoms of the American people. No political platform which doesn’t recognize and promise to deal with this need can call itself conservative and be true to the conservative tradition.

#19 Comment By Robert Kastigar On October 26, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

An excellent article and a good definition of conservatism in it. But I’m a little afraid the author may be overrun by history:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

Source reference: [5]

#20 Comment By tzx4 On October 26, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

Conservatism is not inherently Right Wing or reactionary, or militaristic or plutocratic.
That which loudly and proudly identifies itself as “conservative” in the contemporary USA is ultimately a profanity. It is angry, elitist, divisive, and sociopathic.

#21 Comment By ADL On October 26, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

The Holidays are right around the corner and this article certainly evokes a certain amount of Norman Rockwell.

Libertarianism is currently the only opposition– and offers the only credible alternative– to off-the-deep-end liberalism, imperial misadventures abroad, religious fundamentalism, judicial dictators, and the crony capitalism practiced by both Dems & Repubs.

It is an open-minded ideology based on Reason and Enlightened Thought. We are strong believers in the First Amendment (also the Second). It is a political movement that welcomes one and all; it’s not based on sectarian beliefs or identifications (the way it is with Repub “cultural conservatives” and liberal race-baiters).

On the other end, it’s an ideology overwhelmingly identified with “free market” economics and an emphasis on personal freedoms. It is anti-communitarian in all it’s forms– campus Maoists and puritanical Prohibitionists alike.

At a time when the center-right of American politics needs a united front against our larger foe, we have in this article the basis for a new center-right division.

#22 Comment By Emilio On October 27, 2014 @ 1:53 am

In truth, America has become much like the lands from which our (European) ancestors fled. We are not mostly freeholders, although some of us are. Most of us are merely indebted to the builders of a wealthy empire, one that is much like any other. So that’s a plain fact, and that means the plutocracy is real. Meanwhile, just like we invest in our families, we need to invest in our people. And when the invisible hand doesn’t do it, we have to supplement its labors with concerted democratic effort, funded by taxes. We also have to keep perpetuating the revolution politically through revolutionary policies, such as: women’s suffrage, affirmative action, environmental protection, labor laws. You are right that there is a great model for such action on the Left. But what does it matter what it’s called? Instead of Left and Right, liberal and conservative, maybe we can rename them as the wings of Decency and Common Sense. That might clarify the truth that we all have plenty of both strapped to us.

#23 Comment By Stephen Reynolds On October 27, 2014 @ 9:27 am

In the United States of America, ‘conservative’ means blaming all ills on government. The worst thing about the American government right now is not the national debt or welfare programs, but its captivity to private centers of enormous wealth. Apparently because I understand that this is true, I will be regarded as, well, I don’t know just what, liberal, radical, in any case I cannot be a conservative.

I wouldn’t object to giving up the word if only there were something to replace it. I sometimes try ‘syntērētist’, because everything sounds better in Greek, but of course no one has a clue what it might mean.

Libertarianism is not conservative. Knee-jerk anti-taxism is not conservative. Replacing real food with processed God-knows-what is not conservative. Segregating places where people live from place where they work and places where they shop is absolutely anti-conservative. Capitalism, as Garry Wills pointed out long ago, is not conservative. The Tea Party consists of people many of whom would probably be conservative if it were ever seriously presented to them as an option, but who now subscribe to a kind of politics that seems to bear out George Will’s mot that ‘populism is the opposite of conservatism’.

I find myself in a long-term alliance with the left because there is no politically organized conservatism (and precious little philosophical conservatism) in this country. I am a member of the Green Party because it truly wants to conserve something, which is not true of the major parties. The world I want to live in is not the one desired by the left, but even less is it the one programmed for us by transnational corporatia. I see nothing conservative about removing the federal government from any connection to health care, only to return health care entirely to huge insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. How, indeed, can we get our world back from corporate control if not by first getting government back from corporate control? There is no Republican or Libertarian answer to that question.

#24 Comment By Bettyann On February 5, 2016 @ 12:38 pm

Congratulations on muddling through. Me like. As a life long conservative, mother and grandmother, this article heartens me. Many adults my age despair today’s youth and lack of critical thinking but as I have seen brave young Americans voluntarily fight in third world sh-t holes, I, with Mark Levin, have ever defended the inherent courage and heart in our young America. You must remember in your journey that conservatism is no ideology. It is a way of life – in this it is rare to express it. A full understanding of the Declaration of
Independence helps tremendously. As well dismissing the media narrative – they get it wrong incessantly. But then,they buy that ability, and that’s one of our big problems. So,keep up the good work. You’ve made this matrons day.