Friday, September 02, 2005
Hooray for Principled Conservatives
The nasty tone that marks current exchanges in the public sphere between liberals and conservatives is disheartening and counter-productive (even if it can sometimes be a guilty pleasure). One consequence of this all-out-attack mode is that it stifles internal criticism amongst conservatives and amongst liberals. Any breaking of the ranks is taken as an act of disloyalty. For conservatives whatever Bush does is right, and for liberals whatever Bush does is wrong.
Fukuyama was wrong, and I think he owned up to it, re his "The End of History" following the end of the Cold War. But will George W own up to his mistakes?
There are other conservatives who have steadfastly defended George W who in recent months occasionally, to maintain some sense of their remaining integrity, express some form of disagreement with George W. Include George Will, Jim Hoagland, David Brooks and even Charles Krauthammer. Perhaps they wish to avoid being in George W's lame duck category when, as they say in the Middle East, "The fit hits the Sham."
Mostly I agree with this piece, but the author can't leave well enough alone. I really doubt that an observer from Mars would conclude that Christian conservatives are uniquely desirous of imposing their own views on others. Who's trying to force the Boy Scouts to accept gay scoutmasters? Who's trying to force pharmacists to violate their own consciences? Who's trying to use RICO to get Christian books removed from school libraries? Etc.
Since principled people can cause a lot of harm, the fact that Roberts is a principled conservative is only partly reassuring.
I'd add too that intemperate words on both sides is not somehow unique to our age. Pointless ranting will do us little good, but we are talking about important things here. Some passion is expected and even desirable.
Finally, a "principled conservative" is not always a "libertarian conservative" -- they are really different animals. A principled conservative can accept, and does accept, limits on the rights of individuals. They believe public morality and well being demands that.
If you want to further levelheaded debate, one might want to underline this fact.
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