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Good News For Conservatives

Our research for Democracy Corps finds that a majority of voters are looking for an America that promotes the values of strong community and a sense of togetherness over individualism and self-reliance. ~Stanley Greenberg

Via Ross

The critical flaw here is that Greenberg still seems to think (in spite of the data discussed later in the piece) that preference for strong community has something to do with preference for a more activist state.  If those on the right have ceded the language of community and solidarity to liberals or allowed them to define it in terms of government action, we have given up on one of the most enduring and powerful elements of conservatism.   

In the battle between solidarity and dislocation, conservatives should naturally be on the side of the former, and it should be conservatives who benefit from the public’s interest in “strong community” and even, yes, “a sense of togetherness.”  (For some reason, the latter sounds much less ridiculous when you call it solidarity.)  Conservatism’s “failure” has been that conservatives have defined themselves or allowed themselves to be defined as individualists and advocates for the interests of the self.  A conservatism of place and virtue has very little to do with these things.  These numbers suggest that a conservatism that is both skeptical of government action and that also encourages the building up of community life and a politics of solidarity would fare very well.  It would not be the slash-and-burn, “every man for himself” anti-government style of certain libertarians, nor would it be an endorsement of the effects of “creative destruction.”  Settling people in a location, a place, not dislocating people through the constant flux of what some might call “cosmopolitan dynamism” and what we call social insanity, is the conservative way forward.  This is necessarily very general at the moment, but it is the appropriate way that is neither an accommodation with the central state nor an embrace of self-defeating individualism that only ultimately ushers in more government regulation later.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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