So, Jonah Goldberg advised the other day that one can be pro-abortion and be Conservative…in fact, he later went on to say, in effect, that just about anyone can be Conservative. I, naturally, took exception to this attitude and in some Twitter responses, gave my ideas:
Not really. Conservatism, if it is anything, is a defense of faith, family and property. Being atheist and/or in favor of abortion means you cannot defend two of the three main elements Conservatives seek to conserve. I don’t know of this is part of Goldberg’s possible “evolution” on certain issues to make himself acceptable to the left, but it is complete nonsense as a Conservative opinion.
To be sure, an atheist or pro-abortion person could *selectively* support certain elements of a Conservative philosophy, but doing such doesn’t make one Conservative. It just makes one not a complete fool. There is truth and there is falsehood. There is right and there is wrong. It is false, for instance, to think there is any moral justification of abortion. And no Conservative would ever place himself in the position of defending falsehood.
I think Goldberg illustrates what happens when someone is wise enough to reject the most obvious bad aspects of liberal ideology but fails to see that the entire liberal idea is inherently wrong. Such “Conservatism” is a mere matter of style. No one with above room temp IQ, after all, wants to entirely embrace an ideology which is laughably wrong about so much. But there’s a gulf between that and being actually Conservative
Later, I went on to note that Goldberg’s version of Conservative giggled while the social fabric of our society was ripped to shreds. That version of Conservatism is, officially at least, strong on such things as defending free speech and the Second Amendment, but it never even tried to defend average folks against the assault launched by the left not just on the concept of morality, but on the very concept of Truth. To people like Goldberg, it was ok that people were out there saying there’s no such thing as Truth – they defended people saying that. The proper response is that while people are allowed to say it, they should be hated for saying it and, as far as practical, not given a public platform to shout such a vile absurdity. Like this: there was an attitude of anger that Conservatism was driven from college campuses, but no anger that Conservatism didn’t drive away those arguing that Truth is a social construct.
Think about it: would you or anyone be in favor of allowing in a medical school professorship someone who asserted that all disease is a mere matter of mind? There are people who believe that – that we get sick only because our minds are sick and if we’ll just get our minds right, our illnesses would vanish. Of course we wouldn’t want such idiots teaching in a medical school…but its no different when we allow someone to teach in a philosophy class that Truth doesn’t exist. The very assertion negates itself: if Truth doesn’t exist, then it is untrue to say that Truth doesn’t exist. Yet we allow such people to poison the minds of college kids all the time and no one in the so-called Conservative movement ever so much as hinted that such people should be driven out. And the reason we never had a Conservatism that would do that is because our Conservatism hasn’t been about conserving the things which need conserving: Faith, Family, Property. If those things aren’t your concern, then you’re going to be functionally ok with Progressives doing their thing. You’ll end up only caring that taxes be kept low so you can make money and live well, insulted from the effects of social disintegration.
You see, I don’t think the Conservative movement was really interested in defending things like the Second Amendment – that rose up from below: the people did that. Conservative leaders only got on board when, de-facto, that issue gave them a Congressional majority in 1994. Prior to then, there was no Conservative-led effort to protect or expand Second Amendment rights…and I feel confident that if it ever became a political liability to support the Second Amendment, the movement Conservatives would drop it like a bad habit. Same with abortion – the pro-life movement is entirely grass-roots, and it gets no real help from the Conservative leadership. Just a bit of lip service…and now that plenty of Conservative leaders are locked into Never Trump, they are starting to “evolve” on the abortion issue.
When your desire is to defend Faith, Family and Property, you start getting a different view of what is important. This is why, I think, Conservatives like me are ok with Trump’s background, which is clearly hedonistic (he might not be, now, but he certainly was once upon a time). It isn’t important – what is important is Trump doing things which people like me perceive as a defense of Faith, Family and Property. Trump’s adherence to the Rule of Law (his endlessly repeated demands that Congress take action, eg) is crucial to the defense of all three Conservative ideals. He’s done more for the pro-life movement than any other Conservative President, ever. You guys all know I was a vigorous supporter of the younger Bush…but let’s face the fact, for all his clear moral qualities, he never moved the ball in the pro-life direction. Am I supposed to be more happy with W on this, or Trump? Sorry, but I have to be more happy with Trump. He’s doing the things I think need doing.
You also start prioritizing things based on your ideals. For instance: while understanding that free markets are always better than regulated markets and that trade between nations is a good thing, you start to look around and realize that, still, the market and trade have to be at the service of Conservative ideals, not the other way around. What good is it to have a completely free market and completely free trade if my fellow Americans are thrown out of work and their small and mid-sized communities destroyed because the textile mill was moved to China? Understanding that sometimes a business has to die, you still start looking around…and once you do, you start to realize some things. First and foremost, that the United States rose from agricultural backwater to global economic dominance under Protection. That while we were under Protection, we still did massive trade with the world. That a free trade agreement many hundreds of pages long and regulated by faceless bureaucrats is likely not really a free trade agreement but is, instead, a mechanism whereby those juiced in get special rake-offs. Finally, and most important, that whatever else we do, we still need to make, mine and grow most of our own stuff because that is both economically healthy and necessary for national security.
The leaders of the so-called Conservative movement never got ’round to thinking about any of that. Give the TruCons their way, and we’ll have low taxes and all our things will be made overseas and, in the by and by, every last bit of Progressive drivel about social relationships will be enshrined not in law, but in a series of Supreme Court dictates. I’d rather not, thanks very much. I happen to think that not only I, but my most vigorous opponents would do better under a genuinely Conservative governance. They might officially hate some aspects of it, but they’ll very much like the stability, rule of law and peace and prosperity that it affords. To me, to allow anything liberal or Progressive to happen is a degrading failure: that we might, in a pluralist society, have such things happen is a given…but any real Conservatism is going to fight to prevent any of it from happening. A lost political battle is a lost political battle: but what our Conservative leaders have done is merely surrender, again and again, each time the Progressives really pressed an issue (except on taxes, of course: but, here, you must note, our Conservative leaders had Progressive allies…even among the left, there are those wise enough to know that if you overtax everything, you destroy everything).
I guess, by now, I’m Deplorable. Perhaps so. But, if so, I’m in some fine company. I defy any TruCon out there to say that Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, was anything but the most rigid Conservative. And here’s what he had to say:
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
It is ok, then, to be Deplorable. Such provides the insipid common sense. I’m not an expert. Neither is Trump. Neither are all those people with MAGA hats and American flags on their social media pages. Most of them not only can’t quote Locke, they have no idea the man ever existed. They don’t know the exchange rate between Chinese and American currency. Heck, some of them would probably have trouble pointing to China on a map. But they are the people who make this country work – they grow up, get married, have kids and go to work. They work their whole lives and build up a small savings and then propose to have a quiet retirement until they die and are replaced by people who are almost indistinguishable from them. They want peace and quiet in their neighborhoods and around the world. They might gossip a bit about what the neighbors are doing, but they far more often just mind their own business. They don’t care what religion another person has, nor about what political creed they adhere to. In the day to day, they only care that a person is honest and pulls his or her weight. They have no objection to providing even generous assistance to anyone down on their luck, but they can’t stand to see someone laying about on purpose. They love their country and, if called upon, will fight and die for it. They are the True Conservatives…they are Conservative, even if they can’t articulate it. I’m with them: the Real Conservatives…and all I do will be to defend them doing what they do.