Scruton, Dreher, Brooks, E. Scalia, D. McCarthy: Some of the best minds in alternative conservatism debate the future of conservative politics.
One thing I hate about major elections is sorting through all the opinions of what went right/wrong afterward. But after several weeks, here is what I think was the cream of the crop. If you’re wondering if conservatism will ever be embodied in the GOP (or elsewhere) in a way that is compelling to, and beneficial for, 21st century America, here are some of the most challenging thoughts I’ve seen.
Roger Scruton: “What has gone wrong, it seems to me, is not the attachment of conservatives to the market, but the failure to see what a real market solution requires: namely the retreat of the state and its projects from every decision in which local aims and loyalties are at stake.”
Daniel McCarthy: “The art of politics—especially for the traditional conservative, who shuns utopian dreams of making men all alike, whether in class, creed, virtue, race, or anything else—has always been the art of integration: reconciling hoi polloi and hoi aristoi, the rich and the poor in the Greek city state; reconciling Catholic and Protestant, Scots and English in the United Kingdom; keeping intact the polyglot empire of Austria-Hungary or the racially and regionally divided United States. The challenges the U.S. faces today are not different in kind from those that other polities have confronted in the past, with various degrees of success; conservatism’s task is to serve as the pin that holds together a society in whirl.”
David Brooks: “If you listened to the Republican candidates this year, you heard a conventional set of arguments. But if you go online, you can find a vibrant and increasingly influential center-right conversation.”
Rod Dreher: “The weakness here is that an iteration of conservatism that came out of an era of social chaos, overweening statism, and Soviet expansionism, and that presented itself as a compelling answer to the misery, malaise, and drift of the 1970s, cannot speak to voters who didn’t live through the times that formed Reagan, or immediately preceded his ascension to the presidency. If you can’t remember the inflation of the Seventies, or the humiliation of the Iranian hostage crisis, or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the emotional weight of those times, chances are you will struggle to make sense of Reagan conservatism.”
Also by Dreher: The Rout of Traditionalist Conservatism
Elizabeth Scalia: “This election has shattered, finally the illusion that if “good conservatives just keep fighting,” somehow “another Reagan” was going to come along and restore the “shining city on a hill”. For too long I have watched friends remain enthralled to the notion that a single man or woman equipped with rhetorical skills, a bit of spine, and right-thinking would be able to resurrect what is remembered by some modern conservatives as a golden age.”
Brian Brown loves building the environments, habits, and networks that make people thrive. He is the founder of Humane Pursuits, where he writes a featured column and edits the Give channel. He started his consulting company, Narrator, to help great mission-driven organizations modernize and grow. He lives with his wife Christina and son Edmund in Colorado Springs, where they mix cocktails, hunt for historic architecture, and see how many people they can squeeze into their house for happy hour.