Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What Do We Do When We Get There?

Over at the Next Right, Rick Moran sums up the current intra-party conflict among conservatives in his post "Movement Conservatives vs. The Pragmatists: The Battle is Joined"

I could have just as easily titled this piece “Ideologues vs. The Realists” or some other descriptive caption for what boils down to a debate now fully underway among conservatives about the best way back to power.

Honestly, I didn't read the rest of what Moran wrote, beceause I was struck by the thought that Moran (and a lot of others on both sides of the argument) is misreading what this argument is about. This is not about finding the best way back to power. Our politics are cyclical, and the Republicans will have future success if for no other reason than the two party system is entrenched in our society and sooner or later (I'm guessing sooner) the party in power will screw up enough that people vote for the alternative. Want to really know the best way back to power? Just wait for it.

This fight is one of those arguments that flair up, almost generationally, to define conservatism itself. One could make the case that the argument actually started during the 2008 primary season, and we're now witnessing the populist/traditional conservative backlash to the failed candidacy of a moderate/pragmatic politician. Backdating the source of our current disagreement is less important, however, than simply and fundamentally recognizing that this isn't an argument about policy, it's an argument about philosophy.

In other words, sooner or later we'll be back in power. The real argument is, "What do we do when we get there?"

Having quickly scanned Moran's post, here's one more thought.

The "modern" conservative movement was created largely in the 1950's with its culminating victory in the the 1980's. A lot has changed in the world since then. I'm of the opinion that a "post-modern" conservatism (however it may come to be defined) should be taken as seriously as the "modern" conservative movement. The arguments between the "elitists" and the "rubes" leaves out one distinct possibility: neither side is completely right, and neither side is completely wrong.

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