Friday, May 22, 2009

Conservative Decline

The drumbeat continues of the GOP's conservatism marching toward the grave. Of course, that is hyperbole, though they've definitely lost their way when the conservative voices are turning on the GOP. They will still vote that way, as they don't want to be in the Libertarian Party, and the The Libertarian Party doesn't want them. Though some may become Obama Republicans. One notable voice - an older version who echoes some of what Brooks and Parker have been saying - is Richard Posner, whose new book decries the GOP's naive understanding of capitalism. I really enjoyed the insight in his latest blog post:

The following comments, I found particularly insightful:

By the end of the Clinton administration, I was content to celebrate the triumph of conservatism as I understood it, and had no desire for other than incremental changes in the economic and social structure of the United States. I saw no need for the estate tax to be abolished, marginal personal-income tax rates further reduced, the government shrunk, pragmatism in constitutional law jettisoned in favor of "originalism," the rights of gun owners enlarged, our military posture strengthened, the rise of homosexual rights resisted, or the role of religion in the public sphere expanded. All these became causes embraced by the new conservatism that crested with the reelection of Bush in 2004.

My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.

By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.

I hope for some pragmatic discussion by people in the GOP, but first they must turn down Hannity/Limbaugh/O'Reilly, and start reading instead.

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