Diagnosing contemporary conservatism's ills.
“Conservatism–as a philosophical, cultural, and political project–does in fact have boundaries, and those have been set by the cluster of ideas offered by such giants as Burke, Lincoln, Chesterton, Lewis, Hayek, Chambers, Friedman, Kirk, Weaver, Gilder, Buckley, and Reagan. There are, of course, disagreements among these thinkers and their followers, but there is an identifiable stream of thought. It informs our understanding of human nature, families, civil society, just government, and markets.
“What contemporary conservatism has lost–especially in its Hannitized and Coulterized manifestations of superficial ranting–is the connection to a paternity that is necessary so that its intellectual DNA may be passed on to its progeny.
The Hannitys, the Coulters, and to a lesser extent the Ingrahams, of the conservative world are intellectual mules without deep knowledge of their own patrimony. They speak of their beliefs as if they were mere beliefs whose instantiation in the culture and government can only be the result of the willful exercise of power inspired by mobs organized by them via Talk Radio and Fox TV. I have no doubt that these political celebs sincerely believe their beliefs are true. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that they do not seem to have any inclination to present arguments for these beliefs in a way that is carefully crafted, cheerfully presented, and persuasively offered. Unlike the giants from whom they received their intellectual inheritance, they think only of today and tomorrow, but not of a decade or even three decades from now. Their point seems always to embarrass their liberal guest or opponent or to come up with a clever, sit-com like, one-liner to keep their audiences amused. They don’t seem to want to plant the seeds of intellectual curiosity to inspire others. They confuse moving people with a movement of people. They want a choir without a cathedral. … [more]