For at least the past 45 years, I have considered myself a conservative, even a libertarian--well, libertarian with an asterisk (I believe in a large and fearsome military establishment). For part of my early life, I was a vaguely centrist, apolitical sort, but one who thought that America and the West were pretty much the best places to live. My great epiphany came while studying at UCLA in the early 1970s. I was appalled by the liberal mindset, even back then, which sought to denigrate America and its history, to ridicule and demean the great achievements of Western Civilization, and to point to some other system as "better." I had lots of doubts about this line of thinking, but just did not have the intellectual confidence to speak up and offer a counterargument. That aforementioned epiphany took place at the student bookstore where I happened to pick up an issue of William F. Buckley's The National Review and one of Norman Podhoretz's Commentary. I don't remember what exactly I read that night in those magazines, but, whatever it was, it made me realize it was OK to oppose the stifling liberal/progressive paradigm. I went on a reading binge of conservative thinkers from Europe and America, and basically ran a parallel education course for myself along with the leftist stuff unloaded on me daily in class.
As part of that autodidactic process, I read a very illuminating book, not by a conservative. It's one now hard to find in bookstores (available, however, on Amazon), but worth seeking, Social Sciences as Sorcery, by a leftist Polish-British author, the late Stanislav Andreski. Whatever his own personal political predilections, he so thoroughly demolished the faux intellectual pretentiousness and absurd writing style of so much modern social science that it subsequently proved tough for me to take seriously many of my classes in sociology, political-science, anthropology, and even history. Immensely liberating. Read it. Even more important, have your kids in university read it.
Sorry for the long wind-up. Here's the pitch: I find more than a little boring and even irritating the ongoing and intense debate over whether somebody or another is a "true" conservative. Much of it reminds me of the debates one saw in communist-socialist movements as different factions argued over which held truer to St. Karl's vision. These debates often turned bloody as various factions of the left, e.g., Stalinists, Trotskyites, Anarchists, Fascists, turned on and murdered each other.
Conservatives now appear doing some of the same--no murdering, however, at least not yet. I tire of the virulent tweets, the purple-prose articles, the angry televised debates, and the vile insults to-and-fro in arguments over the conservative credentials of, say, Trump vs Cruz vs Rubio vs whomever. It does little in terms of practical politics but to benefit the progressives busily destroying our country day-by-day, institution-by-institution.
In my view, a person can support an opposing candidate, have a different view than mine, and not be vile and despicable. Old fashioned, I know. I can't keep up with the times.
In recent years, we saw a remarkable phenomenon in the US, which initially gave me hope that we had reached a point in our modern history where we fought back against progressive encroachment. I refer to the Tea Party movement; it seemed a genuinely revolutionary grassroots movement that boldly challenged the ruling progressive orthodoxy. It had no established hierarchy, no well-developed infrastructure, and certainly no agreed upon leaders. It was a movement, unlike most on the left, that came from the heart and soul of the people. This movement was ridiculed and feared by the media and the other Democratic Party run institutions in the country, and, even, alas, by the old guard Republican Party itself. On this last point, note the treatment meted out to Sarah Palin and others who seemed too close to this new grassroots conservatism; the Republican Party elite, the official arbiters of what could and could not pass as conservatism, pretended to be embarrassed by the movement but, in fact, felt threatened by it. It was popular conservatism built around resentment for the arrogant ruling elite regardless of party; the endless demands made on ordinary people by that elite; and the ever-growing interference in all aspects of life by government run by, you guessed it, that same elite. I am not normally enamored of "populism" as a political philosophy or movement as it all too often ends up as a totalitarian ruin, e.g., the French Revolution, the Third Reich, Peronist Argentina. This movement, however, drew inspiration from one of the few successful political revolutions on the planet, the American Revolution, and had as its objective taking government away from the mandarins, and then--surprise!--having the state leave us alone! It could have been called the Greta Garbo movement. The Tea Party had some remarkable successes, and for a time it appeared that it would transform the Republican Party into a true conservative party that stood for individual rights and a smaller, less-intrusive government.
So what happened? How and what did the politicians put into positions of power by the Tea Party do?
Not too well. In fact, not much changed in DC. The corruption of power, well, corrupted. The Republican Party instead of getting transformed by the Tea Party victors in its ranks, transformed them into Republicans or made sure that they could get nothing meaningful done. Obamacare? Survived. A host of clearly illegal Presidential orders? Remained. Crippling budget deficit? Grew. Use of government agencies as pawns of the progressive movement? Continued. The gutting of the military? Worsened. Our delusional foreign policy? Even more delusional. The flood of illegal aliens? Unabated. And on, and on, and on.
I see the whole debate about "who is truly a conservative" as another of those "paralysis by analysis" exercises. We have, for example, the establishment GOP and the supposed conservative movers and shakers gnashing their teeth and rending their garments over whether Donald Trump is a conservative. We even have prominent conservatives telling us they would rather see Hillary "Benghazi" Clinton in the White House than Trump; somehow that would preserve the purity of the conservative cause. What four more years of progressive lunacy emanating from the White House would do to the country . . . ah, well, harrumph, a topic for another day, I guess . . .
Folks, get over it. Nobody politically viable is a "pure" conservative. Reagan, the best president of my lifetime, certainly wasn't. Would it have been better to leave Carter in office for another four years while we hunted up a pure conservative? The Soviets would have appreciated that.
The situation, frankly, now proves so dire that I gladly would take a chance on a nationalist populist as president. The trick will be for a vigilant public to ensure that this new president holds to his promises to defend the borders, restore the military, preserve the second amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights, have a nationally beneficial immigration policy, instill some fiscal responsibility in government, and basically leave the rest of us the hell alone. As I have said before, the
goal should be a government in which 95%-98% of the time it makes no difference to the average American citizen who is president. The US President should matter more to foreigners than to Americans.Dreams . . .