Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is Conservatism Dead?
Mike Rappaport

The declarative version of the title of the post, rather than the inquisitive, is the thesis of a New Republic piece by Whitiker Chambers biographer San Tanenhaus.   He writes:

Yet, even as the right begins to regroup, it is not clear that its leaders have absorbed the full implications of their defeat. They readily concede that the Democrats are in charge and, in Obama, have a leader of rare political skills. Many on the right also admit that the specific failures of the outgoing administration were legion.

Yada, yada, yada.  Look, I believe that conservatism hurt itself badly with the lethal combination of big government conservatism with incompetent government conservatism.  But the ideas of smaller government conservatism remain strong.    

The essential problem with claims like Tanenhaus's is that they fail to recognize that incompetence and extremeness by the liberal Democrats has the power to devestate the new age of Obama.  I am not saying it is going to happen, but it is quite possible and that would be the end of talk about the end of conservatism.  Just remember that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both presided over periods that began with the end of conservatism and ended with its triumph.  Moreover, it was disapproval over George Bush's presidency and the behavior of the congressional Republican that created the problems for conservatism in the first place.

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Mike Rappaport


i've never seen a party so stuck in ideology - not living in the real world. "big government is bad" isn't a message anybody cares about anymore.

Posted by: michael | Feb 8, 2009 1:57:11 AM

Y3ffFW I to myself have bought the new car.

Posted by: fun | Feb 8, 2009 3:33:38 AM

Obama's rare political skill was described by himself---he is blank slate on which others write their wishes. That is not a governing skill.
The people who have filled his slate have run his political life and campains, but they do not govern either, and he will resist letting them run his life now. Because he is the now the One.
His true persona is that of a stiff and a bore, and it now has occasion to present itself as the rule instead of the exception.

Posted by: jamz | Feb 8, 2009 8:58:21 AM

Doesn't the New Republic run this piece every time the Democrats win the presidency? I think John Judis wrote the "end of conservatism" piece when Clinton took office.

Mind you, New Republic liberalism is an extremely rarefied brand: unlike liberalism anywhere else in the world, New Republic liberalism includes strong support for Israel, propping up the stock market and the banks, hostility to affirmative action, and a host of other enthusiasms widely shared on Manhattan's Upper West Side, but nowhere else in the world.

Posted by: y81 | Feb 8, 2009 11:14:25 AM

It makes absolutely no sense for voters to vote for the Democrats because Republicans embraced big government. You really should ask yourself why both Reagan and Bush did not try to rein in government spending and why both were reelected.

There is an underlying logic that leads to the growth of the state in most every country in the world. I'd be really happy to know how it worked, but the point is that the state tends to grow and small-government conservatism is kind of fighting the sea.

Posted by: Snuggles | Feb 8, 2009 9:16:47 PM