Secular Right | Reality & Reason



The diversity of conservatism

The American Conservative has an interesting piece up on the redoubtable John Randolph, Who Was John Randolph?. This part spoke to me:

The danger of Buckley’s effort to construct a tradition is that it slowly became a template. Anyone who doesn’t match the specifications of “born again,” “tax-cutting,” and “foreign-policy hawk” can now officially be labeled “unconservative.” The result is that men like libertarian Ron Paul, paleoconservative Pat Buchanan, or cosmopolitan Rudy Giuliani—all of whom represented legitimate dimensions of conservatism—could no longer get an invite to the party. Republican presidential primaries have evolved from talent contests to the priest-selection ritual of some bizarre and parochial religion. “I swear by almighty God never to raise taxes…”

It’s cliche, but what history teaches is that conservatism is not a thing, but a way. One of the major reasons I participate on this weblog, despite my primary passions being scientific, is to reiterate that not all conservatives are created in the same image.


  • cynthiacurran · October 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Well Pat is not for secular conservatives he made a big deal about the democractics taking God out. The paleo-cons are e-verify group of the Republican party since illegal immirgants tend to have children that get government health care and free and reduce lunch programs. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are the opposed on immirgation they are similar to neo-cons. They believe that business interest should be able to hire who they want and maybe legalized the younger generation of illegal immirgants that came as kids. The paleo-cons and libertraians are anti-war and on foreign policy they are closer to the far left.

  • GOPagan · October 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    For obvious reasons, I fully understand and support your feelings in this matter. 😉

    Heck, a party that can have within its ranks Born Again Christians like Rick Perry, Catholics like Paul Ryan, Mormons like Mitt Romney, and polytheist Heathens like Dan Halloran (currently running for Congress in NY-6) can’t be the monolithic TBN mouthpiece some people would portray it as (or, in some cases, might want it to be).

  • John · October 12, 2012 at 12:25 am

    This was an interesting article, but I have to disagree with its final assertion. Conservatism, first and foremost, is an ideology, not a personality type or lifestyle. A straight man who helps raise his kids, has a steady job, goes to church, and supports Obamacare, open borders, and gun control is a liberal. A transsexual stripper who wants entitlement cuts, capital punishment, and opposes cuts to the military is a conservative.

    Buckley laid out three legs of conservatism: social, economic, and foreign policy, and I think it’s fair to say that someone who would take fusionist conservative positions on at least 2 out of 3 of the basic legs can be legitimately called a conservative. I have a hard time, though, with someone who only agrees with conservatism on one leg then claiming that they hold the “real” conservative positions on the other issues. If you’re foreign policy is the same as Ron Paul’s, and you are liberal on social views, then, sorry, you’re not a conservative, no matter how libertarian you are on economics. Similarly, believing in Jesus doesn’t make you a conservative if you’re an socialist isolationalist. The word “conservative” needs to have an agreed upon meaning, and I think the Buckley definition is the best there is.

  • ziel · October 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    John – I don’t think Ron Paul’s foreign policy is liberal at all. A liberal foreign policy is exactly what we’re seeing now from the Obama administration. I think its an important point to debate right now whether the hawkishness.on the right is a truly “conservative” position or an outdated holdover – perhaps _hangover_ – from the cold war.

  • Polichinello · October 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    While the “no new taxes” dogma is a hindrance to governance, and it has straitjacketed the GOP, it didn’t just come from nowhere, and it still has some justification. The problem with raising taxes is that that money is all too often wasted in the ensuing spending increases. Thus the GOP has to man this particular barricade with some gusto if it’s ever going to get corresponding cuts in government programs.

    What made real nonsense of the position, though, was Dubya’s attempt to out-Democrat the Democrats with his own social spending agendas. The GOP simply has not done enough to disassociate themselves from his disastrous administration. The more obvious problem area isn’t so much the domestic side as it is the foreign side, where Romney seems to be promising to act as another Bush Administration.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · October 13, 2012 at 2:12 am

    What I find more interesting than the diversity of Conservatives, is the diversity of Democrats. It is my considered opinion that conservatives have pretty well shot themselves in the political foot by trying to delegitamize and drive the socialists and communists underground. If they had instead been encouraged to flourish in the open and develop alternative parties participating in elections, they would not now be succeeding in hijacking the democratic party and double-speaking their mindless minions into the abject and un-reasoning hatred of capitalists.

    What would be wonderful is to encourage the REALLY left wing Liberals, and the ultra Christian conservatives, to form separate parties. The rest of us could form the “Can we just balance the budget and kill anyone who threatens our economy” pragmatist party. Let the states decide the rest… after all its easier to move to another state of ones liking, than to move to another country… which unlike some other “talkers” I will actually do if O’bama gets re-elected.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · October 13, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I have to agree with Ziel… and John. I agree mostly with Johns agreeing entirely with Buckley. I would suggest however that the social leg is much less crucial than the economic and foreign policy legs… except for where social liberalism starts to cut too much into economics or foreign policy.

    Ziel is right about Ron Paul. He is a Libertarian plain and simple. Libertarian’s, in my view, would make the best conservatives were it not for an unrealistic view on foreign policy and the military.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · October 13, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Polichinello – I would strongly disagree with too closely associating Dubya with Romney. I feel that Dubya went into Iraq under false pretenses. The WMD thing was over-blown.

    In Irans case, however, I would argue it is not. If you really study the geopolitical situation in the middle east, a nuclear weaponized Iran will simply have too much power to hold the world energy markets hostage… at least for the short term. And who knows, if the Ayatollahs feel they are losing their grip on power, they might just be crazy enough to try and slip one into Israel.

    Dubya and the neo-cons really screwed the pooch by turning the “projection of power” and pursuing our attackers into “military adventurism” and attempting to be some kind of occupying reformers… unless they had some other “real” reason for breaking off from the pursuit of Bin Laden and running up the debt in Iraq.



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