I suppose, after all that has happened over the past year, that I can just come out an admit that I enjoy reading Kurt Schlichter. It was a while in coming but you can only be lectured on your inadequacies and lack of principles for a certain amount of time before you develop a “screw these people” attitude that applies just as much to Vichy Republicans and Bulwarkians as it does to the left in all of its permutations. Kurt’s give-a-sh** circuit breaker tripped long before mine and it, I must admit, has been liberating to just not care what those folks think.
Yesterday, Kurt had a great piece at Townhall called The Conservative Case For Conservatism. He takes aim at a piece in National Review called “A Conservative Case for Puerto Rican Statehood.” But he does it as an example of a trend that is rippling through the right of taking dumb, leftwing ideas and saying they are actually conservative if you apply enough bright lipstick.
You look through the whole Puerto Rico article and there’s not one single new benefit that you or I or the rest of the United States derives from bestowing statehood on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Yes, we benefit from the proud service of Puerto Ricans in our military (I served with some), but we benefit from that today. It never even seeks to answer the question, “What’s in it for us?”
And it’s not wrong for conservatives to ask that question. If our ideology keeps failing to deliver for us, we’ll find a new ideology. The conservative movement needs to learn from the protest vote that allowed Donald Trump to defeat 15 good conservatives, and also Jeb!, and win the GOP nomination then win the election. We are tired of a conservatism that refuses to deliver for conservatives but happily delivers for our opponents based upon the assertion of dubious moral obligations asserted by our purported moral betters.
“The right thing to do” is the most frustrating kind of would-be moral trump card. You can’t really argue against it, both because it’s “the right thing to do,” and because it’s not an argument. It’s a means to foreclose argument. “Why do you ruffians hate doing the right thing?” And this kind of moral extortion happens a lot when alleged conservatives decide they want to do something unconservative. They dress up sheep in wolf’s clothing to weaken the pack.
He’s absolutely right. If you do a quick search you find:
A conservative case for regulation
The Conservative Case for Climate Action
A Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax. No, Seriously. (Weekly Standard, naturally.)
A conservative case for supporting clean energy
The conservative case for universal health care
The Conservative Case for Immigration Reform
The Conservative Case for NATO
The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends
Conservative Case for Gay Marriage
The Conservative Case for Hoovering Cash From a Progressive Billionaire
It is pretty doubtful that any of those ideas are either conservative or work towards building a stronger economy or society. Often they are framed it terms used by the left to market their ideas, like “clean energy” (coal can be clean with the right technology, but they aren’t talking about coal) and “immigration reform” (sure, reform is needed, just not THAT reform).
There is a smallish but feral herd of grifters that are trying to convince conservatives that a) they aren’t really conservatives because they aren’t sufficiently self-righteous and dismissive of other conservatives and b) that to be conservative you have to sign onto whatever dumbf***ery is coming down the pike at the moment. What’s coming down the pike is usually creeping socialism and bigger government disguised by “we have to do something” and “bipartisanship.” It is difficult to tell if they even believe what they are selling…some may but the main characters pretty obviously don’t believe in anything other than their next paycheck.
I think that Kurt offers a very useful analytical tool to evaluate these innovations we are supposed to adopt because a conservative case can be made for them. What does the nation get out of the deal? Are we stronger? Are we more unified? And how well does this innovation comport with the founding ideals of the nation?
If you can’t easily explain how all of this fits together, you aren’t making a conservative case for anything. You’re selling out to the latest fad. And fads ain’t conservative.
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